UNICEF Report Says Pornography Not Always Harmful to Children

C-Fam 13 May 2021
A UN agency is again immersed in controversy for a recent report suggesting there is no conclusive evidence that children exposed to pornography are harmed.

The report published by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) addresses how government policy can be used to protect children from harmful, abusive and violent content online.  Its conclusion is based on a European study of 19 EU countries that found in most countries, most children who saw pornographic images were “neither upset nor happy.” In fact, the report UNICEF relies on says 39 percent of Spanish children were happy after seeing pornography.

Porn fighters disagree with the UNICEF data. “UNICEF’s report ignores the vast body of research demonstrating the harms of pornography to children. By ignoring the real harms pornography can have, UNICEF is playing roulette with children’s health and safety,” said Lisa Thompson, vice president and director of the Research Institute at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Thompson’s organization, which provides expert research to inform policy decisions to end the sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children, has found that pornography can be a central driver of this abuse.

“Mainstream pornography contains horrific sexual abuse, rape, incest, racism – all of which children should not consume,” continued Thompson, and “UNICEF’s milquetoast assessment of the impacts hardcore pornography on children does nothing to challenge the political narrative that pornography is benign, and as a result, puts children in harm’s way.”

The 2020 EU Kids Online Study concluded that some children and young people “intentionally seek out sexual content” for a variety of reasons and that seeing sexual images “might also represent an opportunity” to provide answers to questions about puberty and sexual identity. The study encouraged “seeing the nuances” which lead children to seek out and view sexual content online.

UNICEF says any efforts to block children from accessing pornography online might infringe on their human rights. UNICEF bases this claim on an expansive interpretation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
READ MORE: https://c-fam.org/friday_fax/unicef-report-says-pornography-not-always-harmful-to-children/

UNICEF Takes Down Controversial Report
C-Fam 20 May 2021
UNICEF took down a controversial report from its website, and when it reappeared a few days later, it was carefully edited. The report had asserted that children are unaffected by viewing sexually explicit material.

The United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) recent report “Digital Age Assurance Tools and Children’s Rights Online” concluded that pornography may not always be harmful to children. The report suggested that children could be able to access sexually explicit material according to their age and maturity, and that children have a human right to access pornography online and through sex education.

Shortly after the Friday Fax reported this last week UNICEF removed the report from its website, only to republish a strategically edited report that deletes key statements cited in the Friday Fax, but retains the same positions of the original report.

UNICEF spokesperson Najwa Mekki told the Friday Fax, “UNICEF’s position is unequivocal: No child should be exposed to harmful content online.” But Mekki would not comment on whether UNICEF believes pornography is harmful to children.

UNICEF also declined to comment on the circumstances which led to the removal of the report from its website.
READ MORE: https://c-fam.org/friday_fax/unicef-takes-down-controversial-report/

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