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Tackling the problem of pornography from a Catholic perspective

James Bundy argues that the ‘dark web’ means a coming porn ban could cause more harm than good.

I was first exposed to pornography at the age of 11 in my final year of primary school. I did not seek to view pornographic material. In fact, I did not even know it existed, but I was introduced to it because friends from school were viewing it on their handheld devices.

Even though I was not interested in watching it, the glimpse that I saw triggered temptation. Something within me wanted to see more but deep down I knew that this would go against all my morals.


Overcoming temptations

I was lucky because I had Faith. While there was, and still can be, a battle with temptation, I know that by praising and loving God I can overcome any lure of lust because as the prayer our Lord taught us says: “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

Unfortunately, however, few young people today have a Faith to guide them away from viewing pornographic material. The material that children are being exposed to at a younger age than I first saw it is also becoming more extreme.


Effect on the brain

Many neurological studies have shown that porn has similar effects on the brain to drugs such as nicotine, cocaine and ecstasy. It releases dopamine which makes the body feel pleasure but there is the impact of diminishing returns. The more you view porn or take drugs, the less ‘pleasure’ you feel.

That leads people to watch porn or take drugs even more. It can also lead to watching or taking harder forms. This type of cycle is commonly known as addiction, and as a society, we know how damaging addiction can be because of the efforts to tackle addictions to gambling, drugs, smoking, and alcohol.


Adverse effects

As a society, however, we have not tackled the issue of porn addiction. Porn can have a devastating impact on your sexual life, forming relationships and even on getting to know yourself personally.

It puts a cast over your heart which dulls emotions and the impact of this is greater the earlier a child is exposed to porn.

That is why the UK Government is entirely right to take action to try and protect young children from being exposed to porn, just as they have taken action to protect young children from being exposed to alcohol, smoking, gambling and drugs.


Porn block

The government has legislated to introduce an age verification system for online pornography. Though it has been long-delayed, when it comes into force, it will mean people who wish to view pornography will have to hand over ID proving their age.

The question we must ask ourselves, however, is this: will the government’s plans of online age-verification work? When writing about Just War Theory, St Thomas Aquinas said that the probability of success is one of the criteria for a just war, and this point can be expanded. The probability of the success of a policy, therefore, must be a factor in determining if a policy is just.



There are many criticisms about the government’s policy for online age-verification. These include freedom of expression, data security, and exposing children to the ‘dark web.’ The first two, I believe, are easily refutable so I will address them quickly.

We have age-verification in the cinema. We have age-verification for tobacco and alcohol. We have age-verification for gambling. Society does not see this as limiting our freedom of expression but trying to protect children from being exposed to addictive substances. Online age-verification would fall under this category.



When doing online shopping we put our bank details online. When setting up a Facebook and Twitter account we hand over details such as our email and phone number. When booking a flight online we put our passport details on their system.

Your driving licence details are required when working with the DVLA. Society accepts handing over personal data for use of other services on the internet. Viewing online pornography should be no different.


‘Dark web’

The third criticism—exposing children to the ‘dark web’—is harder to refute.

The dark web is section of the internet not easily accessible, often hidden behind encrypted software.

Children nowadays are tech savvy. If they want to find something on the internet, they will know how to get their hands on it. One common example is the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s). These allow users to state they are anywhere in the world.

These are commonly used by children so they can declare that they are in the USA so they can use Netflix USA. This is apparently because Netflix USA has a greater choice of movies than Netflix UK.

As online age-verification would be UK domestic law and not international law, this would be an extremely easy loophole.



The dark web, however, is my greater concern. Though I have never used it, I have read that the trading of weapons and drugs is common on the dark web. Regulations are not the same, and in the porn industry that should cause great concern to all humans.

Porn has an extremely dark side not only for the user but for those in the industry. Some actors are victims of horrific crimes such as human trafficking, rape, and forced drug use. Due to the lower regulation of the dark web, the likelihood is that these crimes are more common, and the porn is more hardcore. This is the last thing we need to expose our children to.

That is why I have reservations about this policy. It is a truly just cause but they are many loopholes which makes it unlikely that the policy will be a success. In fact, it could actually lead to children to being exposed to more harmful porn.



A more effective solution to avoid exposure to online porn is parent responsibility. If you are going to purchase a technological device for your child, make sure you monitor the device.

Once at an appropriate age, you must have a conversation with your child about the negative effects of porn, and the joys of pursuing a true, loving and intimate relationship.

We also need God in our lives. The power of Government is nothing compared to the power of God. If we keep in our hearts the beauty and joy of our Lord, the temptations of earthly desires will disappear.

We must be an example to our children by living a life of chastity or being devoted and loyal to your partner. This is the best solution to halt the exposure of children to pornography.

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