An incident, back in June 2014, left me shaken.
I was leaving a private secondary school in Lagos after a visit. I walked past three female students, adolescents, maybe 15 or 16, all three of them standing and discussing. I figured they were SSS3 students who were concluding their WASSCE exams and were about to leave school. It was sometime around noon.
I overheard one of them, unaware I was within earshot, say, “Let’s go and watch porn.” When they turned and saw the shock on my face, they were embarrassed.
I’m certain watching porn has become a pastime of many minors. Also, pornography among the youth has crossed the boundary of being a male-related problem.
Childhood is a critical stage of life. During this period, it is necessary that kids maintain a certain level of innocence. A skewed exposure to sexuality at this time can alter the course of a child’s life. Children have a surplus reserve of energy, time and imagination. Pornography could serve as a hurtful distraction should it become their focus. It could lead them into sexual habits, addictions and passions that hamper growth and development in vital areas of life: mental, social, and spiritual.
I am tempted to explore how early sexual abuse and/or exposure has affected children, but I will remain focused on the porn addiction epidemic and its impact on minors.
According to the Nigerian law, a minor is anyone who has not attained the age of 18 years. Two key attitudes of minors make them susceptible to derailing due to porn: curiosity and poor judgment. Curiosity is a gift that’s intense in children and adolescents, and pushes them to learn their environment. Sexuality is a fascinating subject; it is able to draw the attention of first-timers to explore further.
Minors are known to be inept when it comes to making informed judgment. Wisdom and knowledge in humans increases with learning, either through instruction or experience. Since children are lacking in experience about life in general, they depend mostly on instruction to make wise decisions. Hence, they are likely to make wrong sexual choices where effective instruction is lacking. Poor judgment will make a child tow the path of curiosity, regardless of its risk.
Therefore, children and adolescents need to be protected from the unsafe exposure to sexuality and pornography. It is our responsibility to provide a safe space for them to develop physically, psychologically and socially. This should be seen as our own way to give back to a world that shielded us while we were growing up. Even if it didn’t provide the security we deserved, we can nip the evil cycle in the bud.
My experience at that secondary school made me value the work I was doing at the time with teenagers. It also underscored the necessity for stakeholders – parents, educators and leaders – to act quickly in order to prevent porn (from the internet and other sources) from perverting minors who use modern technology. The insidious evil called pornography must be stopped. Quoting Taryn Hodgson in Porndemic, “It is not a question of if you and your children will be exposed to pornography, but when.”
We want to hear from you. What are your thoughts? How has porn affected children that you know? Did porn affect you as a child? What effects did it have on you as a minor? How can we protect our children from the negativity of this sexualized world? Your comments will be appreciated.
This article was originally published at BellaNaija.