Pornography: the harm

New Canadian meta-analysis of harms of pornography


new study has found that viewing pornography is harmful to the viewer and society.  In a meta-analysis (a statistical integration of all existing scientific data), researchers have found that using pornographic materials leads to several behavioural and social problems.

One of the most common psychological problems is a deviant attitude towards intimate relationships such as perceptions of sexual dominance, submissiveness, sex role stereotyping or viewing persons as sexual objects. Behavioural problems include fetishes and excessive or ritualistic masturbation.  Sexual aggressiveness, sexually hostile and violent behaviours are social problems as well as individual problems that are linked to pornography.

"Our findings are alarming", said Dr Claudio Violato one of three authors of the study. Dr Violato, Director of Research at the National Foundation for Family Research and Education (NFFRE) and a professor at the University of Calgary, said, "This is a very serious social problem since pornography is so widespread nowadays and easily accessible on the Internet, television, videos and print materials".

Studies have shown that almost all men and women have been exposed to pornography.  An increasing number of children are also being exposed to explicitly sexual materials through mass media.  The rise in sexual crimes, sexual dysfunction and family breakdown may be linked to the increased availability and use of pornography.  The rape myth (belief that women cause and enjoy rape, and that rapists are normal) is very widespread in habitual male users or pornography according to the study.

"There has been some debate among researchers about the degree of negative consequences of habitual use of pornography, but we feel confident in our findings that pornography is harmful", Violato noted.  "Our study involved more than 12,000 participants and very rigorous analyses.  I can think of no beneficial effects of pornography whatsoever.  As a society we need to move towards eradicating it".

The authors of the study concluded that exposure to pornography puts viewers at increased risk of developing sexually deviant tendencies, committing sexual offences, experiencing difficulties in intimate relationships, and accepting the rape myth.  Dr Elizabeth Oddone-Paolicci and Dr Mark Genius, researchers at the National Foundation for Family Research and Education, are co-authors of the study that was published in the scientific journal Mind, Medicine and Adolescence.

Calagary, 12 March 2002.

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Does erotica really turn women on?


Extracts from an article by Esther Rantzen



ornography has no joy, no art. It deliberately excludes tenderness, and objectifies women.  It is blatantly manipulative, designed to produce the most primitive of responses.  There is a myth that making pornography is harmless fun.  Maybe some women are tough enough to take part without being scarred by the experience, but many are badly hurt.  It’s not just coincidence that most women I have met who were involved with pornography were abused as children, as a result their bodies were no longer their own private property; their personal boundaries had already been transgressed.  Some had reached the point where they loathed their own bodies and wanted to punish themselves.  There is no way these women enjoyed the experience of making pornography, or regarded it as ‘fun’.


Daily Mail 1/1/2004


Teacher strangled to satisfy macabre sexual fantasy



teacher was strangled by her best friend’s perverted lover who was acting out a ‘bizarre and macabre’ sexual fascination with asphyxiated or dead women, a court was told yesterday.  Graham Coutts was said to have kept Jane Longhurst’s naked body as a trophy for five weeks before dumping it in woodland and setting it alight.  Mr Coutt’s two home computers had shown that he had made Internet searches for pictures and small videos using words that included ‘strangled women’ and ‘rape, murder’.  Many of the searches had been carried out the day before Miss Longhurst vanished.  Mr Kelsey-Fry added that the computer contained 809 pornographic pictures, 699 depicting strangulation, rape, torture, violent sex and pictures of dead people.


The Times 15/1/2004


Murder teacher’s mother demands online porn ban


Killer who acted out sexual fantasies is told by judge that he must serve at least 30 years



he family of a special needs teacher murdered by a man acting out a gruesome sexual fantasy called yesterday for the abolition of pornographic internet sites that fuelled his obsession.  Graham Coutts had earlier been sentenced to life imprisonment for strangling to death Jane Longhurst, 31, a talented musician.  Miss Longhurst’s mother, Liz, 72, said outside the court that a lasting memorial to her “beautiful and talented” daughter would be achieved only if such “vile and monstrous” web pages were banned. “I feel pressure should definitely be brought to bear on internet service providers to close down or at least filter out those pornographic sites that played such a prominent part in this trial, so that people like Jane’s killer will no longer be able to feed their sick imaginations and cause harm to others”, she said.

The Times 5/2/2004

Cracking down on net predators


Writing in The Sunday Times, 15/2/2004, Martin Wroe examined the many obstacles facing the police in fighting pornography on the Internet. 


“Last week a 33 year old former US marine pleaded guilty to abducting a 12 year old Wigan girl he met via a children’s website.  The case emphasises the contradictions surrounding the growing threat of internet ‘grooming’.  Barely a week passes without the alarm being raised over online predators and the exponential growth in child porn growth.  The UK already leads the way: for example, the Internet Watch Foundation, which runs a 24-hour hotline to investigate illegal material online, reports complaints at a record high of 20,000 last year.  It also points out that detection is better than ever.  The problem, it admits is that 99 per cent of the child-abuse images it substantiates are traced to countries overseas.  More than half last year were traced to the United States – many of those sites actually being created elsewhere, but hosted on US servers.   John Carr (of the NSPCC) believes a serious step towards cleaning up the net would be for the American authorities to take the matter as seriously as this country – and that is what the UK government must urgently begin lobbying for.”  Derek Wyatt MP for Sittingbourne says that “we urgently need a new global body to take on management of the net”


Computer porn plagues school playgrounds


he first large-scale survey of computer pornography in British schools has revealed that tens of thousands of children, some as young as eight, are offered explicit material in classrooms and playgrounds.  Half of the 8,500 schools that responded to a confidential university survey admitted that computer pornography has been available to its pupils.  “The results are horrifying, but not entirely surprising given the wide availability of computer pornography,” said Vicki Merchant, of the University of Central Lancashire, which commissioned the survey.  Teachers reported disturbing effects on pupils and a lack of awareness that easily available pornography has become a serious problem.

Sunday Times 5/12/1993

Boy,13, attacked girl after watching porn on computer


 boy of 13 attempted to rape a six-year-old girl after watching pornography on a computer at school, a court heard.  He said he had been ‘tipped over the edge’ by images displayed by a friend’s computer disc.  The boy, who said he had intended to have full sex with the girl, was put under a two-year supervision order after a youth court heard he was too young for a custodial sentence.  The case comes a fortnight after Mr Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, promised measures to curb the spread of violent and pornographic video games.  It has lead to renewed calls for action from MPs and anti-pornography campaigners.  The boy had an ‘unhealthy interest’ in pornographic material and he thought it was quite normal to have sex with girls of his age and younger.

Daily Telegraph 3/3/1994  

Government aims to tighten law on computer porn


he rising tide of computer pornography has prompted the Government to consider tightening obscenity laws.  A committee of senior officials from across Whitehall has been set up to monitor developments in the whole are of obscene publications and to look at ways in which existing legislation can be improved.  The committee, which is made up of officials from the National Heritage, Trade, Health and Education departments, is being co-ordinated by the Home Office and is expected to report back to ministers by June.  The initiative was disclosed in a letter from Downing Street to Mary Whitehouse who met John Major last year to push for tougher obscenity controls.  The Prime Minister asked Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, to co-ordinate a government-wide review of possible moves to strengthen controls over obscenity and pornography in addition to existing measures.

The Times 28/3/1995

Seven years for boy who raped girls in park


 schoolboy who carried out knifepoint sex attacks on young girls after watching a pornographic film was ordered to be detained yesterday for seven years.  The 14-year-old boy, who wore a black balaclava, admitted raping one victim and indecently assaulting the others in the space of two months, Manchester Crown Court was told.  He admitted getting the idea for the attacks from the soft porn video, Physical, which police found wrapped inside women’s underwear in his bedroom.

Daily Telegraph 7/11/1995  

Hoard of video porn and sex aids


 hoard of 99 pornographic videos, including one of a terrified girl being abused in a cellar, was found in Frederick and Rosemary West’s house.  The discovery, in a separate inquiry, was made 18 months before detectives found the first of nine bodies at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester.  The jury heard yesterday that a large number of sex-aids, whips, a rice flail and leather straps and buckles were also seized in August 1992.

Daily Mail 24/10/1995