Being a law firm that often works with families, children and schools, we are always shocked to see how early on in life children in South Africa are exposed to pornography. According to recent statistics, it has been found that the average age of exposure by children to hardcore pornography in South Africa is 10!
The bigger problem though is the lack of control that parents have over this …they can police their children as much as they want, but still they will be exposed. We believe the main reason for this is the prevalence of the Smartphone. Realistically speaking, the Smartphone is really just a gateway for children into another (often times frightening and adult) world. The prevalence of phones at schools has also become a tool in spreading this early exposure to pornography. You can implement all the rules you want at home but your child goes to school everyday where they are not only being exposed to other children but also the billions of other people accessible on their cellphones.
It seems that the legislature is finally becoming aware of this and the SA Law Reform Commission has recently tabled a proposed new crime to be added to the Criminal Procedure Act – the crime ofgiving a child a cellphone that does not have a “porn blocker” enabled.
This means that if accepted, it will become a crime to so much as hand a child any computer or cellphone capable of accessing pornography in South Africa. (Remember in terms of the Child Justice Act – this crime would also apply to children providing access to other children).
The crime would be a serious one, directly equivalent to showing a child what will in future likely be termed “child sex abuse material“, under another proposed update, but which is currently known in law as “child pornography”.
At the same time the definition of “pornography” would be expanded to cover images and videos that are of “an explicit or sexual nature” even if they are not “intended to stimulate erotic feelings” – removing a current protection covering the likes of sexual education material.
To ensure this is more effectively policed, the SA Law Reform Commission also proposes that any adult wanting to access porn must provide their ID and also allow their name to be noted in a register of people accessing pornography.
As yet we do not know whether or not the Bill will be passed but we will keep you updated regarding same.
In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts on this? A necessary measure or an unfair infringement of one’s rights to access information?