CatholicCare Specialist addresses educators on the “new drug”

By Catherine Sheehan

Pornography use causes great harm to the developing brains of children, Dr Lucimey Lima Perez told the 150 participants at the recent Edmund Rice Education Australia National Safeguarding Conference in Melbourne.

Dr Lima, who is a Therapeutic Specialist and Educator with CatholicCare Tasmania, spoke on the topic of “The New Drug of Pornography Addiction”.

Just like drugs, pornography produces changes in the brain reducing an individual’s ability to control their behaviour, Dr Lima said. This involves dopamine, a chemical transmitter in the brain, being produced in excess amounts through over-stimulation, leading to decreased functionality of the brain.

Consumption of pornography was particularly damaging to children, Dr Lima said, as their brains were still developing and were therefore highly susceptible to “changes in patterns plus the role of mirror neurons ‘imitating’ behaviours they view”.

The Edmund Rice Education Australia National Safeguarding Conference 2022 was held in Melbourne. Photo: Supplied

Although pornography has existed throughout human history, she said, with evidence of pornographic images in China dating to 3000 BC, today it was more widely available and easily accessible due to the internet.

“In Australia, 40 percent of nine to 16-year-olds had encountered sexual images in a [one] month period,” Dr Lima said.

 “Consequences are permissive sexual attitudes, premarital sex, pregnancy, sexual infections, fear, anxiety, misconception of [the] sexual life, degradation of females, and [the] exclusion of love.”

Addiction to pornography impacted many areas of life, she said, including damaging relationships by warping a person’s view of sexuality, leading to a lack of love and empathy, as well as exploitation and abuse.

Dr Lima pointed out, that like drug addiction, pornography use also leads to decreased performance at work or school. Someone who is addicted to pornography will often have mood swings, the tendency to withdraw from others, and to have increased conflict with others, she said.

Dr Lima outlined strategies to address porn addiction involving education around healthy sexuality, early detection, early intervention, and the involvement of parents.

While acknowledging it was a difficult topic for parents to address, due to the shame and negativity associated with pornography addiction, Dr Lima said urgent action was needed in light of compelling data demonstrating pornography’s harmful impact.

“We have the data and we do need action,” she said.

Dr Lucimey Lima Perez provides education and counselling for pornography addiction through CatholicCare Tasmania. For more information contact 6278 1660 or 1800 819 447.

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