This is what creates confusion in the minds of young and vulnerable people." (p. 1)
Concerning this vulnerability, our research suggests that upon entering an adolescent age, individuals who are not yet emotionally or intellectually prepared for the responsibilities of sexual engagement are yet beginning to experience emotions hinting at this impulse. Schwartz warns that encounters with explicit and potentially deviant materials such as those which may incorporate violence, exploitation, pedophilia or even simply a predilection apart from the individuals such as homosexuality, group sex or fetishism, will impede with the child's process of learning sexual boundaries.
This is underscored in the article by Flood (2010), which reports on the general range of effects that have been associated with exposure to pornography at a young age. Flood reports that "especially among boys and young men who are frequent consumers of pornography, including of more violent materials, consumption intensifies attitudes supportive of sexual coercion and increases their likelihood of perpetrating assault. While children and young people are sexual beings and deserve age-appropriate materials on sex and sexuality, pornography is a poor, and indeed dangerous, sex educator." (Flood, 1)
Indeed, it is at this age that an awareness of the social parameters relating to sexuality begin to surface in children. The period of adolescence can be crucial for helping children to develop a greater sense of sexuality as a normal and healthy human function but one with distinct limitations provided for by social and ethical parameters. As noted by Dunn et al. (2006), the age of adolescence will help to reveal patterns to developing young persons and can also help to reveal to those around him or her the presence of any number of sexual dysfunctions or correlated emotional abnormalities. As the text by Dunn et al. notes, "children learn a lot about sexuality through these years. They also learn much more about what it means to be a boy or a girl. Also, children may start using sexual terms to insult each other. Sexual language is also used more at this age, to call others names or to show others what they know. Children at this age usually understand the secrecy that surrounds sexuality as well as what behavior is appropriate in public." (p. 1)
This is to indicate that adults such as parents or teachers must not fear the implications of childhood sexuality. There is a danger in attempting to repress normal and healthy sexual feelings, which can then become psychologically associated with feelings of guilt and shame that may be misplaced and instigative of a lifelong psychic disturbance. Moreover, a blanket fear of childhood sexuality may cause adult members of a support system to miss crucial symptoms of a problematic or abnormal sexual behavior pattern. Such pressures may even cause the child to resort to internet pornography as a way of relieving otherwise stigmatized or repressed feelings of sexual arousal.
This is an especially challenging area in terms of fostering positive development. For some children who become precociously aware of their sexuality but who do not yet possess the social or psychological mechanisms to control ideas and impulses, there may be awakened a fear of sexual deviance for the child's parents. As the source by Harorian (2000) tells, "of greater concern is the child who is very public with sex talk and sex play, masturbation with self or with peers. Parents are concerned that the child is abnormal genetically or hormonally, that s/he will be censured by other adults and children, that his/her sexual behavior will reflect badly on siblings and family, that s/he will be a target for sexual abuse or exploitation by adults or that s/he will grow up to be promiscuous or perverted." (p. 1) it is difficult to know to what extent sexual explicitness at an early age is a signal of abnormal or deviant development or whether it is a distinctive expression of a normal, healthy drive. However, it is clear that this age represents a challenging intercession between the presence of sexual proclivities but the incapacity yet to understand or act on these proclivities.
It is in this regard that the accessibility of pornography inherently attracts the attention of those who are too young to fully understand the implications of sexual intercourse in all of its dimensions. So reports the article by Skoog et al. (2009), which denotes that exposure to such materials at an age too early for sexual activity has been shown to relate directly to behaviors which overstep the boundaries of appropriate sexual behavior. Skoog et al. report that in a study from 2006, it was found that "the more the boys report viewing pornography, the more often they have sexually harassed a peer and forced somebody to have sex. Curiosity and sexual arousal are typical reasons why adolescent boys view sexually explicit material online." (p. 2)
This indicates that in a certain regard, there may be evidence of a causal relationship between the viewing of materials either stimulating this natural arousal or in removing appropriate expectations regarding social-sexual behavior. Images on the internet eroticizing sexual violence or rape may have a confusing and distorting impact on the young man. In the study cited above, it suggests that this impact produces a miscomprehension of sexual limitations. The article by Skoog et al. is particularly useful to this discussion though as it relates both sides of the discussion on youth viewing of pornographic material. Reinforcing the above-cited study, Skoog et al. report that "most pornography is created for adults. Among others, Jacobs and Klaczynski (2002) reason that cognitive abilities such as judgment and understanding consequences may not be fully developed during early adolescence. Therefore, young boys who view pornography might be at higher risk than older people are for being affected negatively. (p. 5)
Such negative effects may include the incapacity to fulfill later sexual urges due to unrealistic expectations concerning the nature of sexual intercourse; a tendency toward inappropriate or deviant behaviors that endanger others; and a long-standing conflation over pornographic arousal and sexual orientation. By the same token the research investigation by Skoog et al. is concerned with the correlation between the stage of 'pubertal' maturation and the proclivity to seek out pornographic materials. Framing it in this context, Skoog specifically identifies the exposure to such materials as voluntary, active and stemming from biological proclivities toward curiosity, interest and a need for stimulation. In this context, it may not be fully appropriate to contend that the impacts of pornography are inherently negative. The article reports that while many social scientists and moral hygienists have argued that pornography is an inherently destructive force, some have argued that "on the other hand, viewing sexually explicit material may be seen as playing a role in normative development and may be regarded as a normal way to explore sexuality (Swedish Medical Council, 2006). It is plausible that the type of pornography boys view may also be important." (Skoog et al., 2009, p. 6)
Particularly to the extent that sexual arousal and desires are a normal part of adolescent maturation, this may be an outlet with limited to absent sociological or health-related consequences such as may be the case with premature engagement in sexual intercourse. Further endorsement of this suggestion may be found in the article by Sabina et al. (2008), which produces to resolutions. The first of these is that there is a significant distinction in the nature, frequency and extent of exposure to pornographic material experienced by adolescent boys as opposed to adolescent girls. The second of these is that among both genders, this exposure is so common as to debunk any broad and sweeping claims as many drive many of the claims produced by the above-considered sources. To this point, Sabina et al. report that "ninety-three percent of boys and 62% of girls were exposed to online pornography during adolescence. Exposure prior to age 13 was relatively uncommon. Boys were more likely to be exposed at an earlier age, to see more images, to see more extreme images (e.g., rape, child pornography), and to view pornography more often, while girls reported more involuntary exposure. If participants in this study are typical of young people, exposure to pornography on the Internet can be described as a normative experience, and more study of its impact is clearly warranted." (p. 1)
This is important to resolving the current discussion in a number of regards. First and foremost is the understanding that as hypothesized, there is a clear correlation between the proliferation of the internet and the higher exposure and younger age of exposure for children and adolescents to pornographic materials. Additionally, as the research here above illustrates, it remains obscured to us whether we can make any wholesale claims about the likely impact of early pornography exposure on the sexual development of young boys. While the research explores some sources which warn of the risks believed associated with such exposure,…