Yesterday a licence was given to a TV station which would usher in a new era of access to pornography in South Africa. This is been communicated as the rights of adults to engage/ indulge and explore their sexuality. Apparently this is one of the new freedoms in our young democracy.
Less than 10 weeks ago the country was appalled at the rape stats, child abuse stats and seeming breakdown in understanding of sexual ethics, morals, values – pick one and I am sure you will find opinion pieces on it somewhere. Over the last 3 years in private practice, some of the children I worked with who had been sexualised had all inadvertently been exposed to pornography. The children I am talking about are all below the age of 8 and seemingly from what we would all call ‘normal’ homes – their issues emerged when playground games and night time dreams lost their innocence and pants which had been dry for a very long time suddenly were being wet again.
Recently I have been made aware – it was discussed this week again at a professional talk I went to – about the increase in sex addiction. Like, AA and NA groups, we are seeing growing numbers of SAA groups (not the airline –Sex Addicts Anonymous). Pornography and its impact on the men and women in these groups as well as the other issues that result are part of what the 12 step programmes seek to address. And these are not church run groups by ‘conservatives’ who think that sex belongs in a dark room for procreation only. These groups are open to all creeds, all ages and are about finding healing in the space of sexuality.
There is lots of good, bad and indifferent research out there to defend what you want to defend.
In practice we know that children act out what they see. Play Therapy as a discipline developed after the 2nd World War when it was observed that children were acting out the blitz over London – with emotional processing happening; after the soccer world cup, everyone was Messi, or Ronaldo and the theme for children’s parties was pretty much about soccer, boots and balls (across genders). These were innocent processes. My young clients whose acting out of sexual stuff impacted other children, meant we had social challenges, shame, discipline, social isolation and psychosomatic things to manage as a result of seeing something and then voicing, acting or exploiting other children in an effort to act out what they had seen.
Children, according to our constitution have a right to be protected. Freedom comes with responsibilities and privileges. It makes no sense that the privileges (of adults and those who stand to profit) over rides the right to be protected from abuse and exposure to things that impede optimal growth and development. A 12 year old in a workshop I ran last year said the following to me:
“Why do adults allow porn to be out there if they know it’s not good for our brains and our development? It teaches me to think in certain ways and makes me think I want to practice what I have seen with the girls around me.”
An 11yr old girl voiced that she had bought a DVD from an informal shop – and when she got home to play it was hard core porn. Are we keeping her safe?
These kids come from a community where child prostitution, sugar daddies and rape is a part of life.
Do we really need another channel that is going to mess with their minds, bodies and the development of healthy sexuality?
Feeling somewhat more than disturbed today.