pornography and its risks
Studies show that more than 50% of children under the age 18 in Cambodia have been exposed to some type of pornographic material online. Pornographic material however of any kind, should be avoided by children entirely. Besides containing images that are highly inappropriate for children to watch, it also exposes children to many risks; Children who have been exposed to pornographic material are more easily lured by sexual predators online and can become a victim of sexual abuse and exploitation or take part in abusive behavior towards others thinking it is normal.
You may be exposed to pornography by different means:
- Unintentionally – you accidentally entered a link that takes you to a pornographic website or mistakenly downloaded pornographic material which is labeled as something else. Many online predators will upload and mislabel the material intentionally for children to find, making it easier for them to sexually exploit them.
What you can do: You should always be very cautious about what you click on when you are on the web. Only download files from reliable and verified sources. If you are entering a link that was shared by a friend, check who was the original person that posted the link before pressing on it and make sure it is a trusted source. Also be careful while using video sharing apps such as YouTube, as they may also unintentionally lead you to a video with sexual content.
- Someone sends you pornographic material online against your will. Someone may send you via messaging apps, e-mail, social media or chat-rooms, files or links to videos or images which contain pornographic material.
What you can do: If it is a friend who sent you the material, you can ask them to stop and tell them it is not something that is appropriate to watch or share. If the person is an online stranger you should be extra cautious of their intentions and remember you can block them. If the pornographic content contains children, remember it is illegal to distribute and you should report it immediately.
- You actively seek out pornography out of curiosity or will to learn more about sexual relations. Consensual sexual relations between two adults is normal and it is natural to feel curious and want to learn more about it. Learning through pornographic material online however will not lead to the right answers and can also be dangerous for children. It can make you believe that what you see is normal behavior, and put you at risk of being sexually exploited. It is important to understand that pornography depicts unrealistic sexual relations which often involve violent and abusive behavior. Such behavior should not be adopted or encouraged, and pornography should never become a source to learn more about sexual relations.
What you can do: If you want to learn more about sex and healthy relationships try to think if there is someone you can trust to talk and learn more about the topic. Maybe a parent, an older sibling, a teacher or an older friend. Many children feel too shy or embarrassed to ask questions related to sex, or feel they may be judged for being interested in it. However, learning how to have a healthy relationship and learn more about sexual issues is not something to be embarrassed about.
If you still feel you cannot talk to anyone, check if your school or local library has books with more information that you can learn from. There are also many safe online sources which provide information on sex education and healthy relationships. Make sure you choose the right sources which can be trusted to give you age-appropriate and accurate information on sex education.
You can start by checking the following links:
http://childhelpline.org.kh/km/ – provides counseling, information about healthy relationships, and answers frequently asked questions about sexual health
http://rhac.org.kh/km/ – provides information on reproductive health, biological changes, sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and more
http://www.youthchhlat.org/ – provides a platform for asking questions regarding sexual issues, reproductive health and gender-based violence.
http://mariestopes.org.kh/ – provides information on reproductive health, contraceptives, safe sex, STIs, safe abortion, and more
Child Welfare Group, 2003. A Preliminary Study into the Accessibility by Minors of Pornography in Cambodia