Children being led to a moral wasteland by Internet Porn

Internet porn is leading children on an ‘unstoppable march into a moral wasteland’, warns ex-Playschool presenter Floella Benjamin

Lib Dem peer warns that young women and girls are the ‘main casualties’ of an ‘epidemic’ of violent material found online
NSPCC found more than 5,000 under-18s have been questioned by the police over sex offences over the past three years

By Daniel Martin
PUBLISHED: 16:55, 7 March 2013 | UPDATED: 17:57, 7 March 2013
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2289738/Internet-porn-leading-children-unstoppable-march-moral-wasteland-warns-ex-Playschool-presenter-Floella-Benjamin.html

An ‘epidemic’ of violent online porn is leading youngsters on a ‘seemingly unstoppable march into a moral wasteland’, former children’s TV present Floella Benjamin warned today.

Baroness Benjamin – who sits as a Lib Dem peer in the Lords – said girls were becoming increasingly sexualised while more and more boys were treating them as little more than ‘sexual objects’.

In an impassioned speech to mark tomorrow’s International Women’s Day, she said boys were pressurising girls into degrading behaviour such as being filmed performing humiliating acts copied off the internet.

‘I believe we have opened a Pandora’s box and I have no answer as to how we can reverse the trend of the sexual objectification of women and how to protect our children against its influence,’ she said.

The former Play School presenter said violent pornography was ‘only a mouse click away’ and was a ‘pan-global epidemic, underpinned by the media and the internet’.

Too many children were growing up believing that happiness could be gained purely by using sex as a commodity, she warned.

The Daily Mail has been campaigning for tough restrictions on web porn to protect youngsters, following fears it is warping children’s views of sex and relationships.

David Cameron has promised new protections whereby all new computers will be automatically fitted with web filters unless parents specifically lift them.

But no timetable has yet been put in place to implement the scheme. Last month a 15-year-old boy was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl after becoming hooked on internet porn.

And the NSPCC revealed that more than 5,000 under-18s have been questioned by the police over sex offences over the past three years. Three police forces said they had spoken to children as young as five.
The NSPCC has revealed that more than 5,000 under-18s have been questioned by the police over sex offences over the past three years

The NSPCC has revealed that more than 5,000 under-18s have been questioned by the police over sex offences over the past three years

In her Lords speech, Baroness Benjamin said the media put out ‘images and attitudes which relentlessly promote the idea that social emancipation and free speech equal a freedom to flaunt the boundaries of decency, self-respect and the sanctity of our bodies and our souls’.

She said: ‘It is women, especially young women and girls, who are the main casualties of this.

‘No wonder we witness highly sexualised behaviour by children and young people when they are being influenced so strongly to believe that stardom, success, fame, riches and happiness can be achieved by using sex as a commodity.

‘Young boys are learning to see their female counterparts as sexual objects who are expected to perform the same way as they see on the porn sites which are so easily accessible to anyone with a smart phone, a computer or a tablet.
Baroness Benjamin, a Lib Dem peer, urged the government to back schemes which help parents to protect their children online

Baroness Benjamin, a Lib Dem peer, urged the government to back schemes which help parents to protect their children online

‘We now have degrading behaviour by boys who force young girls to perform sexual acts, film the humiliating action and then shame the girls by putting it on the web. The girls turn to self-harm or even take their own lives. This has to stop.’

Baroness Benjamin attacked internet service providers for doing to little to shield youngsters from harmful material, saying that mothers felt ‘disempowered by an environment that ignores their right to protect their children online’.

She backed a charter of parents’ online rights launched by the organisation Parents Zone.

The peer said: ‘This is the sort of initiative we must promote and encourage in order to help parents, especially mothers, to fight back against a seemingly unstoppable march into a moral wasteland, and I hope that the Government will give support to this initiative.’

Trinidad-born Baroness Benjamin was a familiar face on children’s TV in the 1980s, presenting programmes such as Play School, Play Away and the sketch show Fast Forward.

She is backing a bill presented by Baroness Howe, the wife of former Tory Chancellor Geoffrey Howe, to force ISPs to automatically block out all adult material – with people over the age of 18 only being able to see it after specifically opting in following a strict age verification.

Alan Wardle, head of public affairs at the NSPCC, said: ‘This is an issue we are extremely concerned about and we know from calls to ChildLine that it’s a growing issue for young people, especially girls.

‘It’s vital we protect young eyes from this explicit material. These videos, which are often violent and degrading, are warping young people’s views of what acceptable behaviour is. It’s one of the main child protection issues of our age.’

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