Porn causing children to mature earlier, sexually

Porn causing children to mature earlier, sexually

KUALA LUMPUR: Easy access to pornographic materials, coupled with the curiosity factor, is leading to children attaining sexual maturity at a younger age and causing them to commit shocking crimes, according to experts.

They put the blame on parents who give their children free rein to do what they want with their smartphones and tabs and fail to keep a close watch on the content that they are accessing.

Last month, a 12-year-old boy in Batu Gajah, Perak, was remanded by police after he admitted to raping a four-year-old girl thrice since May. The incidents had taken place in the boy’s house while the girl was in the care of his babysitter mother.

The boy was apparently influenced by the pornographic videos he had watched on a mobile phone.

Psychologist and criminologist Associate Prof Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat, who is attached to Universiti Sains Malaysia, told Bernama that compared to 10 years ago, children these days were becoming sexually mature earlier, no thanks to their exposure to pornographic videos made accessible to them by their friends, older siblings and even parents.

“Children’s early involvement or exposure to sexual activities often begins at home,” she pointed out. “Their parents or babysitter themselves may possess pornographic materials in compact discs or downloaded from the Internet which they keep in their personal gadgets.

“A lot of parents allow their young children to play with their phones or tabs unsupervised, without any concern about the pornographic content they are exposing their children to.”

Geshina said consistent exposure would pique the children’s curiosity to the extent of imitating what they have been watching. And, in order to explore the world of sex, they would invite their friends or even force or threaten them to be their partner.

Restorative, not punitive

Following the onset of inappropriate sexual behaviour, the young perpetrators would start to see it as a way to get gratification and over time, they may grow more aggressive and even become addicted to sex, said Geshina.

She also said many studies have shown that when an individual’s involvement in criminal activities begins at a young age, he is likely to remain a criminal over the long term as he has become accustomed to his criminal behaviour.

“The frightening thing is these young children have no idea that a particular type of behaviour or activity violates the law, norms and values of life. The negative impact will be the development of criminal behaviour, which will reflect in the way he interacts with other people, his perceptions and attitude towards others,” she said.

Geshina said even if an offence has been committed, instead of punishing the offender, the restorative or rehabilitation approach should be taken to ensure justice for not only the victim but also the perpetrator.

“The young offender should also be regarded as a victim who has to be given due attention simply because he was neglected (at home) and subject to sexual exposure in his own house which is supposed to be a safe place for him,” she explained.

Mirror Neurons

Early childhood education expert Dr Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli said it is imperative that parents control and monitor their children’s usage of smartphones, tabs and computers to prevent them from becoming entangled in negative elements.

“While it is best that these devices are kept away from children below the age of six, the four- to six-year-olds can be given limited access to them, like an hour a day,” she said, adding that parents should install applications to block inappropriate content from their children.

Putri Afzan warned that excessive use of tabs and smartphones can affect the emotional development of children and that exposure to these devices in the first six years of their lives was not suitable for brain development.

The formation of neurons in a child’s brain is at a critical and fragile stage when he or she is below six years of age. This is due to the existence of mirror neurons that stores other people’s behaviour and actions as observed by the children, she explained.

Putri Afzan also advised parents to be more open-minded and communicate with their children even if it means having to explain to them about the birds and the bees.

“Some parents are embarrassed to provide answers when their children ask about sex. They will then seek information from the Internet (from inappropriate sites) and because of their curious nature, they may want to imitate what they see on the screen,” she said.

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