Child Safety Experts Balk at UNICEF Pornography Report
WASHINGTON, D.C. May 28 (C-Fam) More than 400 child safety experts and advocates from 26 counties condemned the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) for its recent report “Digital Age Assurance Tools and Children’s Rights Online,” which the Friday Fax reported upon last week.
In a letter to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, child safety experts highlight research that directly contravenes UNICEF’s report which says “…there is currently no universal agreement on the nature and extent of the harm caused to children by viewing material classified as pornography.”
The experts charge UNICEF with putting the psychological and social development of children worldwide at risk by ignoring “the vast body of research demonstrating the harms of pornography to children.”
The growing body of research strongly suggests that pornography can be psychologically addictive, and can negatively affect the quality of interpersonal relationships, sexual health and performance, and social expectations about sexual behavior.
One study found exposure to sexually explicit material during childhood often led to sexual dysfunction in young adulthood. The experts say this suggests that children may not have the psychological resiliency to handle disruptive overexposure to sexually explicit material and not that, as UNICEF claims, “children’s exposure to a certain degree of risk . . . helps them to build resilience.”
“Several studies have shown pornography consumption to be associated with both verbal and physical sexual aggression and actual and anticipated dating/sexual violence among adolescents,” the letter says.
A study involving adolescents in juvenile detention found that those “who had sexually offended were significantly more likely to have had early exposure to pornography” and reported “higher rates of exposure to pornography.”
Pornography use among adults has been linked to “decreased brain gray matter volume in the areas of the brain associated with motivation and decision-making.” Experts have no reason to believe, and certainly the research does not support the conclusion, that teens, whose brains are less developed, are more resilient and immune from the negative effects associated with pornography and motivation.
UNICEF says the use of age verification tools may infringe upon the rights of children to access educational information. The experts point to research that “has shown that the more adolescent boys viewed pornography, the poorer their grades were after six months.” In addition, they cited a study that found adolescents with “pornography addiction suffered a 13.36% reduction in their verbal memory.”
One disturbing trend not cited by UNICEF is how pornography has become increasingly violent. In 2019, the BBC reported the shocking rise of young women being choked and slapped during sex.
Studies have also found “adolescent pornography use to be associated with lower life satisfaction, psychosomatic symptoms, depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts,” the experts said.
The letter asks UNICEF to review the research about the impact of pornography to children and to update its report to reflect the verified negative impacts of pornography to children and the right of states to protect children from such harm.
UNICEF initially published its report on the UNICEF website but removed it when the Friday Fax reported its contents. A revised report was published, strategically edited but even this was again removed. As of now, the report has not been reposted to UNICEF’s site.