boys on phonesWhile Britons debate controls on internet porn, a case involving children has come to light which lends weight to the argument for more effective controls. A 14-year-old boy has been prosecuted in the High Court in Edinburgh for a sexual assault committed when he was 12 years old, copying a hardcore film he saw on the internet.

The boy, who had “unfettered access” to the internet, forced a nine-year-old girl to perform a sex act on him, telling the police later that he wanted “to feel gown up”. A 12-year-old friend of the boy witnessed the act. His lawyer argued in court that the case could be “the tip of the iceberg” and many other cases may not be coming to anyone’s attention.

He told the court pornography was discussed by first-year pupils at secondary school, concluding: “There is a real risk that young people of the current generation of teenagers are growing up with a skewed view of what sex is and sexual activity.”

The judge ordered the boy to be kept under supervision instead of in custody. She told him he would receive advice on relationships and sexual development, adding:

“You should not and must not regard pornography as any guide at all as to how to behave sexually.

“You should not have engaged in sexual activity of any sort with a nine-year-old girl or indeed any other young girl who, under our law, is not able to consent to it.”

Beyond teaching the boy the legal boundaries, I wonder what the court-mandated advice on sex and relationships will be. In school, at the age of 14 he could well be hearing about “safer sex” rather than no sex, and there are some sex education materials around that present the topic in a way that can only be an inducement to experimentation.

Isn’t this the problem, then: the vacuum in society when it comes to identifying true and wholesome values about sexuality? And where there’s a vacuum there will always be some garbage to fill it up.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet