Manitoba MLA calls on feds to make it harder for kids to access online pornography
Published Tuesday, March 14, 2017 5:19PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 14, 2017 5:53PM CST
Tasha and Al Deschambault noticed a change overnight in their son Joseph's behavior when he was eight years old.
"(He was) just downright mean and started becoming belligerent and he started becoming violent and started beating up on his sisters,” Tasha said.
As teachers, the parents said these were the tell-tale signs of a child who was sexually abused. However, they soon discovered Joseph's outbursts were caused by the online pornography he had watched for a year.
"It was hard to believe that it was my youngest son. It was hard to believe that at that age, that that was being accessed,” Al said.
Today, online pornography can be accessed in many ways -- home computers, tablets and cell phones. Currently, many adult websites have warnings. Users under the age of 18 are warned not to enter, but there's nothing stopping a minor from ignoring the message.
"Obviously, it’s not effective in protecting children from accessing that type of material,” said Manitoba Progressive Conservative MLA James Teitsma.
The Radisson MLA worries online pornography is degrading and violent. He wants to make it harder for children to access it online.
Teitsma is calling on Ottawa to pass a law requiring meaningful age verification, putting the onus on the websites.
"For instance a credit card, and then the website queries on that credit card, it says ‘yeah, the owner of this card is 18 years of age or older’,” Teitsma explained.
Children and family advocates support the resolution.
"I think it's an epidemic at this point,” said Tammy Nelson with the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, which helps indigenous families.
Nelson said pornography viewing by children and teens is damaging and can have long-lasting effects.
“The rippling effects are going to be family domestic violence. You're going to be looking at rape. You're going to be looking at violence, and this is projected at both men and women,” Nelson said.
The Deschambaults said Joseph, now 14, is still dealing with issues from his addiction. They know this is not a silver bullet, but hope it leads to changes.
"The resolution isn't a law, but it's at least an acknowledgment that what's happening to our kids isn't okay,” Tasha said.