In a parliamentary inquiry report released last week, British members of Parliament sounded the alarm about the consumption of online pornography by children and teenagers. Although the stats disclosed warrant a shocked gasp, it’s the raucous yet pitifully misguided reaction of the media and government leaders that’s most disheartening.
According to the government inquiry, four out of five 16-year-olds view porn online regularly. Meanwhile, one in three 10-year-olds have viewed similar content. The images these youths are viewing go way beyond mere nudity too. With the click of their fingers, they’re accessing the “whole history of human sexual perversion,” noted the authors. It’s a tragic discovery: millions of children viewing the vilest, most depraved perversions—images and scenes that would make many adults cringe.
In their report, the M.P.s expressed concern that porn-viewing among teens is corrupting an entire generation. They’re alarmed that children and teens will pervert their minds, saddling millions with selfish, twisted, often vile viewpoints in regard to sex, the role of men and women, and marriage and family.
There are also other concerns beside the subversion of an entire generation’s morality and inner values. In this tragic heart-to-heart, the mother of an 11-year-old boy recites her son’s imprisonment to online pornography. Much like a drug addict, “Charlie’s” affair with online porn transformed him from a wholesome, energetic and friendly “sunny sort of chap” into a withdrawn, moody, hollow-eyed, self-loathing recluse who could neither eat nor sleep normally.
Porn didn’t simply alter his “behavior, but his entire character,” his mother cried.
Naturally, these revelations have set off a national debate on the need to protect children from smut. But as is so often the case in today’s intellectually and morally muddled world, the conversation has quickly gravitated toward a side issue. The Daily Mail summed it up best, explaining last week that the solution to keeping porn from children and teens lies with Britain’s “Internet providers.” (This was the focus of the parliamentary inquiry too.)
If only the four companies that beam the Internet into British homes were more responsible, many argue, the problem would be solved. The best solution, we’re told, is the use by these companies of more filters and virtual gateways to make it tougher for children and teens to access online porn.
There’s no denying such features would have a positive effect. However, debating about the responsibility of Internet providers distracts attention from those ultimately responsible for this problem.
After all, who’s paying for the computers, televisions, game consoles and the Internet service used by these youths? Who’s allowing their children and teens to slink into the seclusion of their screen-lit bedrooms? (More than half of children ages 7 to 16 have Internet access in their own room; among 11-to-16-year-olds, the figure is 61 percent.) Who’s purchasing the smartphones, then paying the monthly bill? And who’s allowing these youths to take these gadgets to private places where they can text, sext and surf to their heart’s desire?
Forget Internet providers, this inquiry reveals a crisis in British parenting.
From a practical standpoint, the solution to teens viewing porn is fairly straightforward. A few measures would include relocating computers and tvs to the living room; downloading free, easy-to-install Internet filters, and taking the time to regularly monitor a child’s online dalliances. The same applies to smartphones. If parents took them away after a certain hour, monitored texts and conducted spur-of-the-moment checks, teens would find nefarious activity much more difficult and much less enticing. What if the child goes to a friend’s home to engage in this behavior? That’s simple too: Sever the relationship.
These measures might sound harsh. But isn’t the moral, emotional and psychological damage inflicted by pornography, including the unnecessary sabotage of future relationships, ten thousand times worse? Talk to the family member of a drug addict; with the benefit of hindsight, many say there isn’t anything they wouldn’t have done to prevent the enslavement of their son or daughter. A fleeting fit, the angry slam of the bedroom door—these are small prices to pay to prevent a son or daughter becoming another “Charlie.”
These actions are simple, attainable without huge cost or state intervention, and will not deprive a child of his basic needs physically, mentally or emotionally. But they’ll never be considered viable, and never employed on a large scale. Why? Because they’re predicated on a social construct that today is virtually obsolete: the authority of the parent.
Most parents will never implement these measures because they’ve abdicated authority over their children.
To quantify this reality, visit a restaurant, mall or ballpark. Everywhere you look you’ll see parents willingly (often unknowingly) relinquishing control: from the 2-year-old who throws a temper tantrum to demand candy, to the child who refuses to eat his veggies and is never made to by parents who fear confrontation, to the rebellious scowls shot at Mom or Dad by children upset at being asked to take out the trash. It’s in the snippy remarks, slammed doors and silent treatment so common among teens. This is to say nothing of the millions of parents slaving night and day so their children can have Internet access, a smartphone and laptop, an iPhone and an endless wardrobe of designer clothes.
The 21st-century parent has little interest in maintaining control over the behavior and attitudes of his children.
As children grow, their disregard and disrespect for authority affects their other relationships. At school they lack respect for teachers, principals and administrators. In society, there’s little to no respect for police, government leaders and others in authority. The results of this authority-less upbringing surround us. Too many of our teachers work in fear of verbal and physical abuse. Malls and shopping centers, overrun by aimless youths, lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year to theft and property damage. Our streets are filled with gang violence.
Last summer, London, one of the largest, most enduring cities in the world, was brought to its knees amid violence and rioting—by teenagers with no fear of authority!
It’s time we faced reality. More than anything, the problem of porn addiction among teens, as well as most of the other social crises Britain faces—the plague of public drunkenness, the thuggery and gang violence, youth unemployment, single motherhood—is a direct result of family breakdown!
Traced to its origins, every social problem facing Britain (and America) is the result of some form of family dysfunction. Gang violence and general street crime; sexual perversion and promiscuity; unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease; rape and sexual abuse; fatherlessness/single motherhood and the resultant exploitation of the welfare system; divorce and its many costly byproducts—each stems from the dissolution of the traditional family!
Culturally, there has for decades now been a war on traditional marriage, on the roles of the mother and especially the father, and on the role of children within a family. Traditional laws and values regarding marriage and family, many of which were gleaned from the Bible, have been tossed aside and replaced with perverted values that undermine the family. The results are obvious. As Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex, “Since it is a basic truism that a solid family structure is the foundational bulwark of any stable and permanent society, this fact means only one thing—civilization as we know it is on the way down—and out .…”
Is there a better way to describe a nation in which millions of teens are allowed to go online and in the privacy of their own bedrooms explore the “whole history of human sexual perversion”? Where are the parents? Where are the healthy, stable, law-abiding, morally sound families? Why isn’t there an authority—a father, mother, grandparent, elder brother or sister—putting a stop to this? Truly, as Mr. Armstrong warned, British “civilization as we know it is on the way down—and out.”
Not because of its irresponsible Internet providers, but because of its broken families. ▪