A conversation I had with a friend the other day really got me thinking. She was telling me of a child she knew – a 12 year old boy – who had been caught by his parents looking at pornography on the internet. While I was still reeling from shock at his young age (such naivety) she said something else that made it worse: most boys by the age of 11 or 12 have been exposed to pornography. I won’t go into the jumble of emotions this caused, but as I have a son that age, and I had done far less than it sounds that other parent had done to protect him from pornography, let’s suffice it to say I was a little freaked out.
Soon, though, I was remembering something else I knew: according to darknesstolight.org, 40% of children who are sexually abused suffer at the hand of an older or stronger child. Could there be a connection?
As I did some research on the internet, this is what I learned:
- Children often imitate what they’ve seen, read, or heard. Studies suggest that exposure to pornography can prompt kids to act out sexually against younger, smaller, and more vulnerable children. Experts in the field of childhood sexual abuse report that any premature sexual activity in children always suggests two possible stimulants: experience and exposure. This means that the sexually deviant child may have been molested or simply exposed to sexuality through pornography. (www.protectkids.com/effects/harms.htm)
- In a study of six hundred American males and females of junior high school age and above, researchers found that 91 percent of the males and 82 percent of the females admitted having been exposed to X-rated, hard-core pornography. (www.protectkids.com/effects/harms.htm)
- 87% of convicted molesters of girls and 77% of convicted molesters of boys admit to using pornography, most often in the commission of their crimes. (www.netnanny.com/learn_center/article/144)
Exposure to pornography does not a pedophile make, but it certainly raises questions about the prevalence of childhood perpetrators. If 40% (40%!!) of abused children are abused by other children, and nearly 100% of children are exposed to pornography at some point, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a link between the two.
What do you think?