Raise your kids as pillars of society!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Do you sometime get the feeling that you have stepped into a time warp?

I was a guest on Radio Lotus' Talking Point this week. The subject was pornography, and I spent an hour sparring with Horace van Rensburg, co-founder of a Johannesburg-based anti-pornography group.

My position was not pro-pornography, it was anti-censorship.

A necessary result of being anti-censorship is that one has to be prepared to accept that pornography has a right to exist – along with Mein Kampf, Oh You Hindu Awake, The Satanic Verses, and any other document that some person somewhere in the world may find offensive.

Like the abortion issue, this position is obscured by emotionalism.

When arguments are reduced to statements like "this is degrading to all women and children", or "I speak for all decent upright people in this country", there is little hope of rational discussion since I speak for no person but myself.

The reason I ask about the time warp is that the three paragraphs above were written by me in “Natal on Saturday” in 1995.

Today, I pick up The Mercury (or the digital equivalent of it at any rate) to read that anti-porn organisations have called for a boycott of Top TV, arguing that porn leads to the abuse of women and damages children.

“Pornography is the theory – rape is the practice,” said Women And Men Against Child Abuse spokesman Luke Lamprecht. “It messes up children’s sexual development in that it objectifies women, and children exposed to child porn are internalising dangerous deviant sexual behaviour,” he said.

Errol Naidoo, chief executive of the "Family Policy Institute", says: “Pornography is also proven to be highly addictive to men, causing them to change the way they view women.

“The proliferation of hard-core sexually explicit images in South Africa has also led to a dramatic increase in child-on-child sexual abuse."

As I said, this is a time warp.

So let's put aside the arguments of whether pornography is good or bad and look at what's changed in the 18 years since I last wrote on the subject.

In 1995, the Internet as we know it in the form of websites and browsers was just two years old. Google did not exist. Facebook did not exist. Twitter did not exist. Skype did not exist. I was the only person in my immediate family to have a cell phone.

Today, many of our kids have Apple iPhones, or Samsung Galaxy phones, or RIM Blackberry phones – and any of them can call up youporn.com or any one of thousands of similar sites. There, they will be greeted with cheery words of welcome:

"What Hot Free Porn Videos are Popular in your Country? Find out with YouPorn's New Popular by Country List! Porn Videos being watched right now: Getting caught in her …; Squirting, Ambush Creampie, and First; Allison rubs and grinds against her boyfriend;" and many others which cannot be printed in this newspaper.

Let me get this straight, we're worrying about Top TV screening a few cheesy skin flicks when all of that other stuff is out there for the taking?

Have we lost it completely?

So before you go rushing out to confiscate that cellphone from your teenager, stop and reflect.

I'm a parent. I want my children to grow up to lead happy and fulfilled lives, free from fear and doubt. I want them to be proudly independent. I want them to leave the world a better place for their having been here.

Do I believe for a second that the likes of Luke Lamprecht or Errol Naidoo will help them achieve that?

The only way I know to have your kids grow up to be pillars of society is to be there as they are growing up. No formal religious structure or institution supposedly devoted to their protection should be trusted to do that on your behalf.

If you have a problem with certain TV channels, don't subscribe to those channels. If your children are visiting friends, make sure you know their parents and that they share your concerns.

Better yet, stop using television as a baby sitter. Read your kids bedtime stories, take them to the beach or the zoo, play soccer or cricket or chess with them.

And most importantly, talk to them about sex early in their lives. There's a fabulous picture book called "Where did I come from?" by Peter Mayle suitable for 4-8 year-olds which explains the facts of life in a humorous way which will not leave you feeling embarrassed.

If you are abusive or derisive with your spouse or partner, chances are that that will be what they grow up believing is "normal".

Instead, as they grow older, emphasise the importance of mutual respect and honesty in relationships by leading by example.

That way, when they grow up and watch "Ashlynn Brooke & Faye & Devon Get A Toy" on a porn site, they will do the appropriate thing: laugh.