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(LifeSiteNews) — If we are going to halt the rise of sexual violence in our culture, we are going to have to find a way to deal with the problem of pervasive and compulsive porn consumption. Scarcely a week goes by without more stomach-churning evidence for this fact – and yet, despite that, most people seem determined to conclude that there is not much that can be done. A recent report in Unherd by the feminist intellectual and journalist Julie Bindel titled “How porn breeds paedophiles” highlights this fact once again. From Bindel: 

‘Mainstream, freely available porn gives men permission to go that step further,’ says Michael Sheath. ‘It’s what normalises the sexual abuse of children.’

Sheath, an expert in child protection, can rattle off the titles of mainstream pornography as well as any habitual user… These are real videos found on mainstream sites, and all are legal.

‘But this legal stuff, accessed mainly by men who are surfing Pornhub or whatever site, can be a gateway to the illegal content in which real children are horrifically abused by adults,’ says Sheath. ‘You can’t have child abuse images without child abuse having taken place.’

The scale of the problem is shocking. According to a major study released a couple of months ago, one in 10 men have carried out sex offences against children, either online or offline. And it is a problem that Sheath is determined to shine a light on, having dedicated the best part of his career to raising awareness about the link between freely available, mainstream pornography and illegal child abuse imagery.

I have been reporting on this sick phenomenon here in this space as well as in many other publications for years now. Let me recap a few statistics. What we are seeing with the normalization of sexual violence is the culture-wide consequences of men and boys imagining themselves as the aggressor in millions upon millions of porn scenes. Consider a few statistics, with citations for each study provided below: 

  • A British study found that 44 percent of boys between the ages of 11 and 16 who viewed pornography said that porn gave them ideas about sex acts they wanted to try.i 
  • A 2016 study found that 53 percent of 11-16 year-old-boys and 39 percent of 11-16-year-old girls said that they believed pornography was a realistic depiction of sex.ii 
  • A 2021 study found that 1 out of every 8 porn videos shown to first-time users on porn home pages feature acts of sexual violence.iii  
  • A 2021 study found that 24.5 percent of young adults cited pornography as the most helpful resource for learning how to have sex.iv 

What we are witnessing is the dual rise of child-on-child sexual assault, as well as “porn-made pedophiles” – people who were not initially attracted to children having their brains rewired by compulsive porn consumption to be attracted to children, often because they escalate to increasingly extreme content as their porn addiction progresses. Many, in fact, have told Michael Sheath this in as many words: “I am not a paedophile, I am an ordinary man that went down a dark path.” 

If you don’t believe the stats, perhaps you’ll believe the perpetrators. As Sheath, who “qualified as a probation officer in 1988 and has spent his career working to understand male sex offenders,” observed: “Many of the men talked about mainstream, free and legal porn having been a gateway to the illegal stuff, and some went on to create porn themselves, which, of course, requires children to be abused.” Before the internet, he observed, it was very difficult and very risky to obtain child pornography – with the internet, it is horrifying simple, and the use of child porn has exploded as a result. 

What can be done? At the moment, Sheath says, “Stop It Now” has “chosen to dance with the devil” by making an arrangement with Pornhub that has users who search certain terms told to sign up at Stop It Now. “There are more than 45,000 triggering words that activate the bot to send them to the course,” Sheath told Bindel, “such as the combination of ‘rape’, ‘child’ and ‘torture’ for example. Pornhub are telling us: ‘We don’t want those customers.’”  

Pornhub is being incredibly disingenuous: they push videos with women and girls who are dressed to look like children, and sexual torture and rape porn is featured prominently on their platform. “Barely legal” is one of their most popular categories. 

Considering all of that, alarm bells should be shrieking; politicians should be springing into action; the porn industry should be facing attacks from academics, journalists, and world leaders as a primary purveyor of “hate speech” against women and children as well as a global grooming operation contributing to the sexual abuse of millions of people every year. And yet, here is Bindel’s conclusion: 

It’s very difficult to tackle porn’s role in pedophiles’ crimes without being accused of shutting down free speech, and spreading an anti-sex message. In my view, long-term education – or rather, re-education – is the only thing that will bring about change. Men who have chosen to stop using porn need to have serious conversations with boys about its harms. “Hard questions have to be asked about why so many men find the idea of abusing underage kids sexually exciting,” says Sheath. “Until we find a way to talk to boys about what they are viewing, and how it’s affecting them, we don’t have a chance in hell to change things.” 

“Re-education” isn’t going to even scratch the surface of this problem. In fact, it will do very little. If you want to stop the torrent of poison, you’re going to have to turn off the tap. When it comes to this problem, we can, in fact, do more than talk. We ban pornography, and, as the French attorney general recently advised, prosecute those who are pumping this poison into the minds of millions.  

REFERNCES

i. Martellozzo, E., Monaghan, A., Adler, J.R., Davidson, J., Leyva, R., & Horvath, M.A.H. (2016). ‘I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it’. A quantitative and qualitative examination of the impact of online pornography on the values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of children and young people. London: Middlesex University. NSPCC. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/media/1187/mdx-nspcc-occ-pornography-report.pdf 

ii. Martellozzo, E., Monaghan, A., Adler, J.R., Davidson, J., Leyva, R., & Horvath, M.A.H. (2016). ‘I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it’. A quantitative and qualitative examination of the impact of online pornography on the values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of children and young people. London: Middlesex University. NSPCC. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/media/1187/mdx-nspcc-occ-pornography-report.pdf 

iii. Vera-Gray, F., McGlynn, C., Kureshi, I., & Butterby, K. (2021). Sexual violence as a sexual script in mainstream online pornography. The British Journal of Criminology, doi:10.1093/bjc/azab035 

iv. Rothman, E. F., Beckmeyer, J. J., Herbenick, D., Fu, T. C., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2021). The Prevalence of Using Pornography for Information About How to Have Sex: Findings from a Nationally Representative Survey of U.S. Adolescents and Young Adults. Archives of sexual behavior, 50(2), 629–646. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01877-7 

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.

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