The time has come! The Canadian Parliament is back in session for the fall, and by early October Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor make a decision on what the government will do about online pornography. It’s been a long journey to get to this point, but here’s the breakdown:
MARCH 2016: MP Arnold Viersen introduced Motion M-47. If passed, the Standing Committee on Health would study the public health effects of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on men, women, and children.
DECEMBER 2016: Motion M-47 is passed unanimously in Parliament.
SPRING 2017: The Health Committee conducts their study. They hear testimonies and examine briefs from organizations, researchers, and individuals.
JUNE 2017: The Health Committee releases their recommendations, which leaves out much of the evidence and testimony presented in the hearings (you can read about our response to the recommendations here.)
Next step: Minister of Ginette Petitpas Taylor will review the recommendations and make a decision on what action the government will take. This will happen by early October 2017.
We’d love as many people as possible to write to the Health Minister before October 6, so we’ve created a template you can personalize and email her way. Be sure to personalize the parts in red before you send the email to Ginette.PetitpasTaylor@parl.gc.ca.
Make sure to CC your MP as well. Don’t know who yours is? Find out by plugging in your postal code here!
E-mail subject line: Protecting our kids’ mental and sexual health
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Health Minister Petitpas Taylor,
In December, the House of Commons passed Motion M-47, prompting the Standing Committee on Health to study the public health effects of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on men, women, and children.
The Committee has released its four recommendations, three of which have little or nothing to do with graphic sexual violence on the Internet. This concerns me. Online pornography is drastically different from the porn magazines of the previous generation, but currently there is nothing restricting kids from accessing any of it.
Studies have shown that the forward-thinking part of the brain (frontal cortex) doesn’t fully develop until the early to mid twenties, placing kids and youth at heightened risk for porn addiction. Porn use also has ramifications on their relationships.
- 53% of boys and 39% of girls who have seen porn believe it’s a realistic depiction of sex
- 44% of boys and 29% of girls who have seen online pornography say it’s given them
ideas about the types of sex they want to try out
- For men, violent/degrading pornography use has been significantly associated with
reduced bystander willingness to intervene in potential cases of sexual violence
[Explain why this matters to you. Do you have kids or grandkids? Are you a teacher? Are you a teenager struggling with porn? Here’s where you can make this personal.]
As a society, we agree that children shouldn’t be able to walk into a convenience store and buy a porn magazine. Until recently, people have had to show their ID at the store to be able to purchase or rent adult content. We also ask for age verification for lottery purchases, at gambling establishments, and for online gambling sites, even when moving from one device to another. Implementing protection for children in the online realm when it comes to streaming sexual content is not a major hurdle and should be a priority.
Surprisingly, despite the testimony, age verification did not make the Committee’s list of recommendations at all. In fact, once the hearings were concluded, the committee adopted a formal motion to limit evidence that could be included in the final report to only evidence that was provided by individuals with published peer-reviewed scientific research. Such a narrow focus excluded witnesses who work directly with individuals who have been most impacted by violent and degrading sexually explicit materials.
I would like to see the Government move on:
- the introduction of meaningful age verification, as the UK has done, which would include
working with tech companies to protect the privacy of Canadians,
- the development of opt-in filters and a mandate to implement them for all explicit
websites that do not employ strict age verification, and
- funding for more research
As you prepare to respond to the committee’s recommendations, please consider looking at all of the testimony and evidence that was presented during the hearings.
As a Canadian who cares deeply about children, I would appreciate your support for these initiatives. I want to live in a country where kids can thrive, and protecting them from stumbling upon explicit content online is a big part of that.
[Your name, address, email, and phone number]
We’ve also created an infographic to demonstrate some of the negative effects of pornography, which shows why this is such an important issue. Please share!