Can Porn Exposure Lead to Child Abuse?​​​​​​​

There’s this old phrase: monkey see, monkey do.  I see it in my kids all the time.  They are often shining examples of the worst of their parents.  Their angry responses mirror ours, they use the same phrases as us, they’re like us in miniature. Monkey see, monkey do.  

But what if it turns out that this ‘monkey see, monkey do’ can also be the case when children are exposed to pornography.

Some research came out earlier this year from Gemma McKibbin who works at the University of Melbourne.  

McKibbin looked at 14 cases of child abuse carried out by children.  She found that for children who commit acts of sexual abuse, pornography was a significant factor in 12 out of the 14 cases looked at in the study.  3 child abusers directly related their abuse to porn.  One of the 3 main points of prevention was to help young people manage their pornography consumption.

Porn harms kids.  In some cases, it is a factor in children becoming abusive.  It harms the abuser, who then harms the abused.  And sexually abuse does not harm in isolated ways.  For individuals and families, it’s not so much a pebble in the pond as it is an earthquake under the sea.

As people discuss and research the impact of pornography on young people, conservatives are often accused of being inflammatory.  They argue that porn is the cause of all evils and ills in the world.  So let’s be clear.  Here’s what this research isn’t saying.  It isn’t saying that everyone who watches porn will become sexually abusive: that would be an absurd and clearly unbackable claim.  Rather, it’s saying in the bulk of cases where children sexually abuse other children pornography is at the least a significant factor, and at worst a causative factor.

McKibbin isn’t alone in her research.  The late Freda Briggs also pointed out the alarming and growing rates of child sexual abuse perpetrated by children.

So what are we doing to protect our kids from pornography? 

We’re often giving them a phone, a laptop, a tablet. We’re assuming because they’re good kids that they won’t get up to mischief. We’re sticking our heads in the sand.

In the article linked above, McKibbin noted that “The access that young people are having to pornography, as well as our collective ‘turning a blind eye,’ is akin to a kind of cultural grooming of children”.

Maybe we can start by opening our eyes.  By rethinking the access to technology we give our kids.  By taking responsibility as parents and calling on our schools and government to help us raise and protect our kids from the clear harm that pornography can cause.