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Nick Boles on internet porn: ‘Internet is exposing our young to appalling risks and horrors’

Children growing up in Grantham today face an exhilarating but frightening world of possibility.

Thanks to the internet, they can read every book that has ever been written, listen to every piece of music that has ever been produced.

They can look at images of the most distant places on the globe and make friends with people in every country.

Every generation before this one grew up in a world that was much more tightly constrained. Our knowledge of the world was taken from atlases, adventure stories and David Attenborough.

The internet has expanded the horizons of young people to an almost unimaginable degree. But it has also exposed this generation to appalling risks and horrors.

Both intentionally and by mistake, children can be exposed to pornographic images at an age when they are much too young to understand what sex can involve.

They can stumble upon situations in which the vile degradation of women – because it usually is women – is made to seem normal. Worst of all, through the false intimacy of the internet, they can sometimes be persuaded to exchange images of themselves by child pornographers and paedophiles.

As a Conservative, my starting point is that people should be free to live their lives as they choose. And I am not going to start lecturing consenting adults about their private enjoyment of legal pornography.

But I do not believe government should leave parents on their own in the unequal battle to limit their children’s exposure to the worst things to be found online.

The Prime Minister is right to challenge the big search engines to find ways to make it harder for paedophiles to find child pornography.

And he is right to insist that Internet Service Providers have adult content filters activated at source unless the account holder makes a positive decision to ask for them to be turned off.

Childhood is fleeting. The world’s dangers have to be confronted soon enough. Parents need government to make it easier for them to protect their children until they are ready to venture forth into the world.

 

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