Thursday, November 18, 2010

Violent Pornography Linked to Sexually Aggressive Behavior in Children and Adolescents

/PRNewswire/ -- Viewing violent x-rated material may contribute to sexually aggressive behavior among 10-17 year olds. X-rated material without violent content does not appear to have the same impact, finds a new study conducted by Internet Solutions for Kids and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published in Aggressive Behavior, the study is expected to be highly influential. "Because of the obvious ethical problems of purposefully exposing kids to pornography," Dr. Michele Ybarra, the primary author of the study, explains, "little was known before about how viewing x-rated material may be related to sexual aggression in children. We asked kids whether they had looked at x-rated material before, and then looked to see if the kids who said 'yes' were more likely to also say that they were sexually aggressive."

The study finds that youth who look at violent x-rated material are six times more likely to report forcing someone to do something sexual online or in-person versus kids not exposed to x-rated material. Watching violent pornography does not always lead to sexual aggression and not all sexual aggressors have been exposed to pornography, Ybarra cautions; nor does the study prove that violent x-rated material causes sexual aggression.

Exposure to Internet pornography is relatively common. Findings from the Youth Internet Safety Survey – 2 indicate that 15% of 12-17 year olds have purposefully looked at x-rated material online. Data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project suggest that 70% of 15-17 year-old Internet users accidentally view pornography "very" or "somewhat" often. Nevertheless, Ybarra's study also finds that the Internet is not the most common source of x-rated material – even violent x-rated material. Fourteen percent looked at x-rated material in movies, 12% in magazines, and 11% online.

"There's an assumption out there that the Internet has somehow increased kids' exposures to deviant content. Our data don't support this. We're learning that just because content that we find disturbing is accessible online, doesn't mean kids will seek it out," Ybarra explains. She agrees that blocking and filtering software will likely prevent exposure to violent x-rated material online. "But, these things won't do anything to prevent exposure through magazines and movies. That's why it's important to talk to your kids also."

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