Proposed South African law to protect our children from pornography
The South African Law Reform Commission, as part of an broader investigation into a review of all sexual offences, recently issued a Discussion Paper which seeks to:
- Review the legislative framework that currently applies to children in respect of pornography and sexual abuse material, and
- Consider the need for reforms to legislation governing children and pornography
- Read our submitted commentary on this proposed legislation or download the official Discussion Paper
Be In Touch, together with our alliance partner, Dial a Nerd, have submitted comments on this paper, focused on the proposal by the Commission to comprehensively criminalise all acts of exposing children to pornography and content not suitable for them, in whatever manner.
One of the key risks that children face when engaging with the mass media and using electronic or digital tools, is that they may intentionally seek or unintentionally be exposed to, pornography or material of a sexual nature which may be legal for adults, but may also be completely illegal. Either way, it is not at all advisable that children and teenagers be exposed to pornography, given the scientifically documented chemical effects on the developing brain, leading to psychological, emotional, and physiological disorders and issues.
The porn industry is just that: an industry. It’s entertainment, for profit, like movies and TV. Today, it is believed the online porn sector is worth around $97 billion, and it reaches more people, and younger people, every year.
Obsessive use of pornography can be compared to gambling and food addictions, as the addiction is to a behaviour (watching pornography), not a chemical substance. Using the experience of the last 12 years since smart phones were first launched, and the huge concerns being raised by psychologists and educational specialists about the impact of pornography specifically on children, the intentions behind the proposed legislative changes are commendable.
One of the solutions suggested by the Commission includes ensuring that all devices, both new and second-hand, be issued or returned to a default setting that blocks inappropriate content, with an opt-in possibility depending on proof of age of the buyer /user as being 18 or over.
We are looking forward to working further with the Commission, with a view to making practical recommendations as to how currently uncontrolled sources of pornography, including via games and Apps, can best be controlled for under-age users.
Contact us if you would like to learn more, or be a part of supporting this new proposed law!