Lyndon Bowring

What about our children?

Executive Chairman of CARE, Lyndon Bowring comments on the causes close to the heart of the Christian community.

Fifty years ago hundreds of ‘private sex shops’ were opening up near schools, churches and in residential areas.

Local authorities were powerless to act, so CARE supported a clause in a Bill going through Parliament at the time to allow each local council to limit the establishments.

The pornographers assumed at least one would be allowed in each locality, but CARE’s lawyers were inspired to confirm that as zero is a number, councils could reject every single application.

Many did, and as a result, hundreds of these shops were closed.

Pornography is one of the most difficult issues CARE deals with. Nobody likes talking about it, but we’ve always believed it’s a crucial subject for us to speak up against.

Today the pornography industry operates through innumerable sites portraying appalling material. Even worse, children as young as seven are accessing these sites.

In 2019, the British Board of Film Classification surveyed 2,344 parents and young people. More than half of the 11 to 13-year-olds said they’d seen pornography, rising to 66 per cent of 14 to 15-year-olds.

Many parents are unaware of it, but millions of young people routinely view porn and exchange explicit messages and pictures on their devices.

Although some liberal ‘experts’ are in denial about it, research shows that viewing the violence, coercion and degradation that’s now ‘mainstream’ shapes how adolescents think about sex and approach relationships, many believing what they see is acceptable.

Online harm to children is an urgent problem and the government has a major responsibility to act.

For many months, CARE’s been working closely with parliamentarians on the Online Safety Bill which the government wants to be ‘world-leading’ legislation.

It actually follows on from their 2017 Digital Economy Act which included a clause requiring ‘adult’ websites to use age-verification checks to block children from accessing them.

But to our dismay, the government delayed this and eventually cancelled these democratically elected decisions, meaning that children will continue to be at risk online for the foreseeable future.

We can only assume pressure was brought to bear by adults visiting these sites who want to remain anonymous.

We must get age-verification back on the agenda and convince MPs and Peers to vote to protect our children, but at the time of writing the Bill has major flaws.

Pornography is hardly mentioned even though it’s such a huge problem, and parents and teachers are deeply worried about its effect on our children.

We’re encouraging Christians to pray and contact their MPs about this. We’d love to send you our excellent free ‘Ten Ways to Pray about Children and the Internet’ to guide you through this difficult issue.

Please join us ion praying for the safety of children on the internet. You can email us today to request free copies of our latest prayer resource, or head to our website to read it there:

First published in the April 2022 issue of Direction, Elim’s monthly magazine. Subscribe now to get Direction delivered to your home.

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