News Analysis

Friday 29 August 2014

Government sits idly by while children remain unprotected

Sinead Moriarty

Published 19/07/2013 | 05:00

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I THINK it's fair to say that most parents would welcome an anti-pornography filter on their home broadband connections. With the advent of the internet and the explosion of online porn, children these days only have to type in the word 'breast' to be greeted with an onslaught of hard-core images and videos.

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As parents, we want to protect our children. It's our job to keep them safe and secure. Home is a child's haven, a place where they can be themselves, a place where they can get away from the stresses and strains of the school yard. Surely then, we would want them to be protected inside the home from disturbing images?

Why then does the Irish Government, many of them parents themselves, feel it is unnecessary to follow the UK's lead in introducing anti-pornography filters? These filters are aimed at all home broadband connections and are being sought in Britain as part of an initiative to prevent children from seeing adult imagery. But Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte says: "This isn't something that is being prioritised by the Government here." Why not?

Is he so 'open-minded' and 'free-spirited' that he doesn't think it's distressing for a nine-year-old to type in an innocent word like 'breast' or 'bum' and be confronted with porn?

Society protects children from pornographic images in magazines, in cinemas, and on DVDs, surely it's time to act to protect them online, too. The filter would stop most pornography from reaching our computers, as well as mobile phones and smart TVs, thus protecting our children.

Studies have shown that viewing pornography leads to an acceptance of violent and unhealthy notions of sex and relationships. It also objectifies women and normalises aggressive behaviour. Yet the Government isn't interested in protecting its young. People have said it's up to parents to police what their children watch and search online.

While many parents are disappointed, the internet service providers have welcomed the Government's indifference. "We are of a view that this is not an ISP issue, but that the legal adult pornography industry should control its online services in the same way that they control their offline shops."

And there we have it, everyone is already passing the buck. Everyone will blame everyone else and claim that it's the other side's fault . . . and on it will go while our children remain unprotected.

And so, we already harried parents now have to do laps of the house, checking all of the various internet-enabled devices in our home for any signs of misadventure. Here's hoping my kids don't type in Pat the Rabbitte by mistake. . . God knows what might come up!

Irish Independent

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