UK MPs Get It Right On Pornography Harm

Media Release 23 October 2018
Family First NZ is welcoming a report from a select committee in the UK calling on pornography to be treated as a public health issue similar to cigarettes, and is calling on New Zealand politicians to appoint an expert panel to investigate solutions to an already-established health hazard.

“Pornography has a damaging effect on intimacy, love, and respect and at its worst, leads to sex role stereotyping, viewing persons as sexual objects, and family breakdown. Yesterday’s pornography is today’s mainstream media, and is much more graphic and often disturbing. Today’s pornography teaches boys to be users, to be aggressive, and it tries to persuade girls that they are to be used,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ who sponsored the petition to Parliament last year.

“Social scientists, clinical psychologists, biologists and neurologists are now beginning to understand the psychological and biological negative effects of viewing pornography both online and through the media and video games. They show that men who view pornography regularly have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression, and sexual promiscuity. Prolonged consumption of pornography results in stronger perceptions of women as commodities or as ‘sex objects’.”

“The evidence is clear in New Zealand that there is a public health crisis. It’s time we focused on the solutions.”

The Ministry of Health, in its submission to the Select Committee considering the 22,334-written petition said that “the content of pornography has changed significantly over the last 20 years and has become more extreme, deviant and violent.” It also acknowledged that “violence towards women and girls is depicted in 80% of online content. This has a variety of harmful impacts on children and young people’s sexual expectations, attitudes, and behaviour.”

A nationwide poll in April 2017 found high levels of concern around the effects of online pornography and its link to sexual violence, and the easy access that young people have to offensive material. It also found significant support for action from government and internet providers in terms of filtering and Opt-Out provisions.

Some of the solutions which Family First referred to in its submissions included:

  • safeguarding homes with filters and device apps.
  • Internet Service Providers (ISP) to provide filtering software free of charge
  • age-verification processes to access pornographic websites
  • mobile device restrictions through use of SIM cards that restrict access to adult content unless and until the account holder completes an age verification procedure.
  • compulsory safe internet for businesses operating in public spaces
  • awareness and education regarding the harm pornography can cause, and where they can seek help for porn addictions for themselves or their loved ones.

“If we want to tackle sexual violence, we must first admit the role that pornography plays and the harm that it does to attitudes and actions,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Family First’s written submission to the Select Committee is on our website: