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House of Lords debate Porn

The Lord Bishop of Chester was recently able secure a debate on the “impact of pornography on society” which took place in the House of Lords on November 5th. One of Naked Truth’s stated goals for 2016 is to continue to inform and influence policy and legislation regarding pornography, thanks to our friends at Care, Naked Truth was asked to provide research and evidence for the Bishop’s speech and also to write a briefing for a further 150 peers in preparation for the debate.

You can read a copy of the briefing here, which highlighted 3 main areas where we are able to see the social cost of pornography; addiction, family breakdown, children and young people. The briefing asked the Peers  for a call to action in the following ways:

Public health awareness and education: The government has done much to educate the public regarding the harmful impact of gambling, alcohol and smoking. With increasing evidence of pornography’s impact on public health, similar awareness and education programmes should be considered to prevent and reduce the harm to individuals and society.

The importance of future research: Although research has been published, this has largely been conducted in the United States; the majority of which is over five years old. Particularly in view of the accelerated changes in pornography use in recent years, there is a need for further UK-based and current research to be commissioned, particularly in the areas of addiction and family breakdown.

Improved education and support for young people and parents: Although this requires an update to the SRE curriculum to ensure that awareness of the harmful impact of pornography is taught in schools, we must ensure children and young people have people they can talk to and places they can go to receive 24/7 support if they need it. In addition, parents need resources to help equip them to protect their younger children and have healthy conversation with young people.

All 3 areas were discussed during the debate, with Naked’s Truth’s work being referenced 3 times particularly in view of our work with individuals struggling with porn use.

 

In addition to our recovery work such as clicktokick.com, you will know that Naked Truth is equally as passionate about delivering education programmes in schools, providing support for parents and finding ways to inspire and support couples and families to forge healthy relationships. So it was encouraging to hear the Peers pressing the government to explore a strategy in all these areas also. Our next step is to seek meet individually with the various speakers to continue the conversation.

A full transcript of the debate can be read here or if you have 2.5 hours you can watch it here.

Some key statement made include:

I believe that the impact pornography is having on society is, almost bizarrely, something of a no-go area for polite conversation, yet it is imposing considerable harm, particularly on young people and particularly on their perception of how healthy relationships should look and feel. Unless there is some basic honesty in this area, we are in danger of sleep-walking our way through deeply concerning changes to norms of decency and acceptability in our society and neglecting the young on a massive scale.- Lord Farmer 

As the majority of online porn is created for men and is often aggressive, if not violent, the premature sexualisation of young minds is re-embedding constructs we have battled to eradicate: that women are primarily sex objects, there to provide men’s sexual gratification, and their significance is dependent on them being desirable and attractive to men.- Lord Farmer

Today, I want to draw to our attention an issue we are not very happy describing and talking about. Doing nothing does not seem right either, given the evidence that pornography clearly harms adults as well as children—men and women, but especially women. My question to the Government, and to us all, is whether it is right to strike a post of neutrality in the face of the obvious damage and dangers of the adult use of pornography.- Lord Bishop Chester

For some individuals using pornography or gambling, their behaviour becomes a problem for themselves and those around them. We need to face up to this fact, as it relates to pornography use, and consider the appropriate public policy response. I conclude by asking the Minister two questions. First, what are the Government currently doing to engage with public policy challenges emanating from pornography addiction? Problem gamblers are assisted by various provisions including, for example, self-exclusion, which mean that they can, on a strong day, limit their access to gambling opportunities for a period of their choice and get help during this time. It is not 100% foolproof, but the provision is helpful and appreciated. We now need to seriously consider this kind of provision in relation to pornography addiction. Secondly, would the Minister be willing to meet with recovering pornography addicts, to hear what public policy changes they believe would help?- Lord McColl

However, there is a growing recognition that pornography, rather like gambling, can have profoundly negative implications for some adult users as well as for children. The challenges faced by problem gamblers are very similar to those experienced by people who are addicted to pornography. In the same way that, while we do not ban gambling, the gambling industry is called to account for the very significant economic costs arising from legal, adult use of the services it provides, the time has come for the Government, similarly, to call pornographers to account.-Baroness Howe

“My heart hurts for individuals caught in the web of pornography. When you see grown men crying in your office because they can’t quit and when they tell you that porn is costing them everything, you quickly realize that pornography is not just a leisurely activity. Then, when you meet a woman who feels rejected, not good enough, and unloved by her partner because of porn, you want to change something about the way things are being done”.- Lord Bishop of Bristol quoting Dr Kevin Skinner

It is assessed that the cost of family breakdown per annum is £47 billion. Other noble Lords have drawn parallels with the gambling industry. Both pornographers and the purveyors of gambling services provide a product that comes, for some, with a very real social price tag. A judgment has been made not to ban either product because others utilise the services without a problem, but the scale of the problem posed by these services in some contexts is such that the providers should be called to account. It seems to me that at present the Government calls the gambling industry to account to some degree. The industry has the threat of a levy over it in the Gambling Act, and, on the basis of that, it provides £6 million per annum. What are the Government doing to call pornographers to account for the negative effect of pornography on our social environment and, specifically, for the fact that these activities undermine government policies to counter family breakdown by promoting commitment and stable two-parent families? I look forward to the Minister’s response.- Lord Bishop of Bristol 

1Comment
  • Craig Martin
    Posted at 18:57h, 07 November Reply

    Really great too see this being discussed at the higher level May Gods hand of influence be upon these talks and bring about a shift in attitudes towards this. I pray that a decision will be made to impact the next generation for good. Keep up the great work guys

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