Children as young as 11 exposed to porn

  • RAP project: Deana Puccio (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    RAP project: Deana Puccio (File photograph by Akil Simmons)


Children as young as 11 are being exposed to pornography, parents in Bermuda have been warned.

Deana Puccio, a social-media expert and former New York court prosecutor, said mothers could not pretend their own sons were not affected.

Ms Puccio told The Royal Gazette: “The children here are very bright, they’re very engaged, they’re very open, so they really talk about how they’re feeling and what’s going on, I don’t get that at many schools so it’s refreshing that they share.

“I think they want to be understood and they don’t want to feel like they’ve done anything wrong because the problem is they’re afraid to tell us as parents and as adults if they’ve received a sext or been exposed to porn.

“One kid said, ‘I would never tell my parents, they make everything worse’.”

Ms Puccio is cofounder of The Raising Awareness and Prevention Project, and visited the island to host a series of talks in schools with pupils and parents.

She gave a talk at the Bermuda High School on Wednesday and told the adult audience they were in uncharted waters when it came to policing young people’s internet and mobile phone use.

She said: “The RAP Project is about communication; this is about getting the dialogue and starting the conversation with our young people about what is going on in their world.

“They’re not growing up in an easy time, it’s very different than when we were growing up.”

The mother of three added: “We’re all in this boat together and it’s a ship that has never sailed these seas.

“When we were growing up, when we were taught things, our parents did it through their experience.

“They could teach us how to cook or ride a bike or drive a car, because they did it themselves.”

But Ms Puccio added: “We don’t have that equipment, we don’t have that experience to understand what it’s like to receive a sext at 12.

“We don’t really know what it’s like to watch or be shown hard core pornography at 15, 16, or being asked to do certain sexual things at that age because the boy we care about is watching pornography.

“We have a very different experience.”

Ms Puccio said parents must make children feel they can talk about their online activity.

She said: “Not talking about porn is not going to mean they ain’t watching it — 90 per cent of young men watch pornography.”

Ms Puccio added: “What they’re being exposed to is not healthy relationships. They’re being exposed to very misogynistic images, acts that a lot of people would never feel comfortable doing, women being tied down and held up.

“The average age a young person is exposed to pornography is 11.”

The former sex crimes prosecutor said: “If no one explains to our young people this is not healthy, this is not normal, of course, they think it is.”

She added: “If I had one more mother tell me ‘my son would never watch porn’, if I had a dollar for every man or woman whose son is not watching porn I’d be a very rich person right now.

“They ain’t going to watch it because we start talking about it. They’re already watching it.”

Ms Puccio, who was also scheduled to speak at Somersfield and Warwick academies this week, said sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, suicide and low self-esteem can be caused by the “overwhelming” pressure to engage on social media.

She said: “There is no downtime, there is no place to run and hide. They feel like they always have to be on.”

Jillian Brydon, a physiotherapist and mother of two, attended the talk and said that her five-year-old daughter had been asking to post on video-sharing platform YouTube.

The 36-year-old, from Warwick, added: “I feel like it’s encroaching on our lives so much earlier than I expected.

“So it’s just knowing how to safeguard your children because you do hear the horror stories of children who get bullied and commit suicide or get pressured into doing things they don’t want to do.”

She said the most surprising thing she learnt was the age at which children start to see pornography.

Ms Brydon said the information would help her have an “open dialogue” about what is “healthy and normal” in relationships as her daughter grew older.

On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on a story that we deem might inflame sensitivities. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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