Response 42896897

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PRIORITY 1: Scottish society embraces equality and mutual respect, and rejects all forms of violence against women and girls

1. Do you agree or disagree that the actions listed under priority 1 are the right actions to help meet the objectives of priority 1?

Please select one item
Agree
Disagree
Ticked Neither agree nor disagree

2. Please tell us about any of the priority 1 actions that you are particularly supportive of.

Comments:
The Reward Foundation applauds the goal to ‘Work with the education system and key stakeholders to develop a holistic approach towards addressing gender stereotypes and norms in schools and education settings’. As a key component of this approach we strongly advocate the addition of an element to raise awareness of the harms that can be generated for some people by consuming internet pornography. Ways need to be found to get the issue of raising pornography harm awareness into all schools as a part of the Curriculum for Excellence. To date we have been restricted by funding issues to working mostly with the independent school sector who can afford to pay for our services. We currently have a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to help us develop lesson plans on pornography harm awareness for upper primary, mid-secondary and end of secondary pupils in state schools. We applaud the creation of the Advisory Council on women and girls and would appreciate an opportunity to contribute directly to its work. We particularly support the ongoing work with further and higher education institutions. The Reward Foundation hopes to offer an innovative train-the-trainer programme in this area in the near future and has a live grant application to initiate internet pornography harm awareness work in all Scottish universities. We strongly support the work of the Mentors in Violence Programme, though the current programme does not currently deal effectively with internet pornography.

3. Please tell us about any priority 1 actions that you don’t agree with.

Comments:
The involvement of the Mentors in Violence programme is highly commendable, but you also need broader ways of addressing the hearts and minds of all men in a positive and proactive way. Please also provide better recognition of the potential role both Fathers Network Scotland and the ManKind Project could play in Equally Safe. These groups help create the sort of men you seek, without undermining their masculinity.

4. Are there any actions that you think are missing under priority 1?

Comments:
The current action plan does not address the issue internet pornography. This is a serious omission, though it has only become relevant in the past 15 years. In that period internet pornography has moved from being something consumed by a very small minority of technically-literate people, mostly men, to a socially acceptable form of free adult entertainment accepted as normal across our society. Calculations by The Reward Foundation suggest that people in Scotland currently consume around 590,000 sessions of hardcore pornography per day, every day. Men consume about 78% of the pornography viewed in Scotland. The level of consumption of internet pornography is growing at a compound rate of about 7% per annum. The creation of pornography is a known factor driving human trafficking and consumption of internet pornography is a significant vector in encouraging commodification of sex through the commercial sex trade. The consumption of legal pornography is implicated as a vector in the rapid rise in crimes involving the viewing of illegal child pornography. A characteristic feature of the addiction process is tolerance and the need for higher level of stimulation to achieve the same buzz. With drugs it means more of the same, but with pornography it means new and more shocking material. This process sees some pornography users escalate to illegal material, primarily child sexual abuse images. The neuroscience behind this process is now well understood. Academic studies have concluded that a significant portion (or even most) of the commercially-produced heterosexual pornography typically consumed by people in Scotland includes overt physical and or verbal violence. This violence is almost exclusively perpetrated by men against women. Both the explicit and subliminal messages of commercial heterosexual pornography are about male sexual dominance and female submission. Internet pornography is one of the key factors driving violence against women. The widespread use of smartphones and tablets by children gives them easy access to violent pornography at an age when their brains are most vulnerable to sexual conditioning and addiction.
Do you have any suggestions for additional actions to focus on?
Internet pornography needs to be considered by the Scottish Government as a potential negative stimulus underpinning male violence generally and male sexual violence specifically towards women and children. It is a stimulus for violence before an offence is committed and it is an exacerbating factor during continuing offences, particularly in domestic violence. Ongoing pornography use is also a factor which can make it much harder for men to sustain civilised behaviour after a conviction, charge or violent act. There is a wide literature in this area demonstrating many ways in which internet pornography is a very unhelpful contributor to men's problems. There are two separate but related issues here. Pornography’s role as adult entertainment should be critically examined by the Scottish Government and ideally measures should be encouraged to reduce both supply and demand. First there is the supply. Hardcore pornography is now available in Scotland on tap through nearly every internet connection. For most consumers it is free service with an unlimited variety of videos available. Pornography is considered to be adult entertainment. If the material was being sold through a licenced sex shop, it would be regulated with regard to what it can depict and who it can be supplied to. Up until now these constraints have not applied to pornography supplied through the internet, with the exceptions of child abuse imagery and other illegal pornography. Credible research from the NSPCC, Middlesex University and the Children’s Commissioner for England all point to many children using internet pornography as the key tool to learn about sex. Boys have their first exposure at an average age of 12 and girls a couple of years later. Nearly all youth are influenced by internet pornography in some way or form with the UK Government figures in May 2015 suggesting at least 1.4 million under-18s per month were viewing porn voluntarily. The UK government has already begun to address this issue for consumers under the age of 18 years through the Digital Economy Act. However, this Act has only covered a small, though important, part of our population. It will not come into force until a regulator has built the tools and systems to enforce its work. This may take quite a long time. It is also generally agreed that it will be far from 100% effective in blocking young people from viewing pornography. The largest positive effect is expected for the youngest children. Research is recommended to identify policy options to reduce the supply of internet pornography in Scotland. It is a potential behavioural addiction. We know that measures to control supply have had some success in reducing the scale and intensity of substance and behavioural addictions such as gambling, sugar, alcohol and tobacco. There is also a growing movement world-wide to manage internet pornography use as a public health issue. Then there is demand. All adult men have access to pornographic material which models potentially very dangerous messages and content. The statistics noted above suggest that a substantial proportion of them are using pornographic material frequently. They are being harmed by it in a variety of ways, though the harms are often slow to appear. Many users fail to link their behaviour, mental health issues or sexual health problems to their pornography use. After all, their logic is that it would not be free and available everywhere if it was not safe. In the absence of legislation or effective technology to block supply, the main option available to reduce demand is education. This is the area where the Equally Safe programme could make a substantial contribution.

PRIORITY 2: Women and girls thrive as equal citizens: socially, culturally, economically and politically

5. Do you agree or disagree that the actions listed under priority 2 are the right actions to help meet the objectives of priority 2?

Please select one item
Ticked Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree

6. Please tell us about any of the priority 2 actions that you are particularly supportive of.

Comments:
We are pleased to see that Understanding Gender has a strategic role within the Equality Budgeting process.

7. Please tell us about any priority 2 actions that you don’t agree with

Comments:
None.

8. Are there any actions that you think are missing under priority 2?

Comments:
Within Understanding Gender, it is essential that the role of pornography in establishing gender stereotypes becomes a key component of the role of gender in policy making. This is particularly important with regard to establishing the norms of sexual behaviour. Pornography’s messages that women are always sexually available, that consent is not required and that practices such as hetero-anal sex, group sex and facial ejaculations are always wanted by women are teaching men unhelpful ideas and helping to socialise women to go along with sexual practices they may not want. Simply ignoring internet pornography as a factor because it is taboo, unpleasant or not comfortable to discuss is to fail to acknowledge internet pornography as a growing source of male violence and male sexual violence.
Do you have any suggestions for additional actions to focus on?
It would be helpful if the team responsible for ‘Develop a programme of engagement with key parts of Government to improve understanding of gender in policy making’ included expertise in mental and physical health and other harms generated by the use of internet pornography. The Reward Foundation would be willing to fulfil this role.

PRIORITY 3: Interventions are early and effective, preventing violence and maximising the safety and wellbeing of women, children and young people

9. Do you agree or disagree that the actions listed under priority 3 are the right actions to help meet the objectives of priority 3?

Please select one item
Ticked Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree

10. Please tell us about any of the priority 3 actions that you are particularly supportive of.

Comments:
We are supportive of the proposed actions. We have suggestions which we think will improve three of them.

11. Please tell us about any priority 3 actions that you don’t agree with

Comments:
None.

12. Are there any actions that you think are missing under priority 3?

Comments:
No.
Do you have any suggestions for additional actions to focus on?
There are three actions where the introduction of an understanding of the harms of consuming internet pornography would make the actions stronger. In 'Develop the health service response to preventing and tackling violence against women using the World Health Organisation’s resolution on gender based violence as a framework', there is no recognition of men viewing pornography as a vector to drive or exacerbate sexual violence against women and children. The WHO proposal is excellent, but it has not taken account of this new vector for harms. We recommend that the Scottish Government goes further and adds harms arising from the consumption of internet pornography to issues you will deal with. In 'Expand the Medics Against Violence Ask, Support, Care programme to train more healthcare students, NHS staff and non-health care professions to spot, document and respond to the signs of potential abuse', again there is scope for the harms of consuming internet pornography to be added to the existing curriculum. The Reward Foundation's experience in dealing with mainstream sexual health professionals, staff in the NHS and in rape crisis centres shows that that some staff do recognise that porn is exacerbating male sexual violence, but at the same time they have not been trained in what to do about it. There is also a serious shortage of trained staff in both the public and private sectors of medicine and psychology to deal the ever-increasing demand for treatment. The Reward Foundation is in the process of seeking accreditation for a one-day Continuous Professional Development workshop for healthcare professionals from the Royal College of General Practitioners. This will be the first training opportunity on this subject in the UK and will be available to all healthcare professionals from the latter part of 2017. In 'Commission the development of a sustainable model of training around gender based violence for public and third sector services' we see an opportunity for the recognition of internet pornography harms to become a component of the tool kit available to women's aid organisations and rape crisis centres. As a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, with specialist knowledge, The Reward Foundation is well placed to contribute to the development of content within the sustainable training model.

PRIORITY 4: Men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and effective response

13. Do you agree or disagree that the actions listed under priority 4 are the right actions to help meet the objectives of priority 4?

Please select one item
Ticked Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree

14. Please tell us about any of the priority 4 actions that you are particularly supportive of.

Comments:
We are particularly supportive of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act. It is an example of innovative legislation which has potential to address one strand among the many where technology intersects human sexual behaviour with undesirable consequences. For pupils aged 14 to 18 we have now incorporated a section about this legislation as a part of our wider internet pornography harm lessons in schools.

15. Please tell us about any priority 4 actions that you don’t agree with

Comments:
None.

16. Are there any actions that you think are missing under priority 4?

Comments:
See below.
Do you have any suggestions for additional actions to focus on?
We suggest two areas where additional material incorporating a recognition of the harms arising from over consuming internet pornography has the potential to produce better outcomes. In 'Review training provided for all professionals within the Justice System to ensure that there is an understanding of the new offence for those investigating domestic abuse cases including trauma informed practice for all people who work with women and children' our suggestion is that the curriculum for trauma informed practice-trained staff also encourages them to undertake questioning about male perpetrators internet pornography use. It is often an exacerbating factor and on occasions it is the root cause of domestic violence incidents. In 'Continue to look at perpetrator programmes and consider where further efforts are required to identify and tackle behaviour with a view to rehabilitation and change' it is important to ensure that the men's use of pornography is bought under control, and ideally eliminated, to remove this as a factor in generating future violence. Scotland already does this for sexual offences involving children, with the Government supporting the Stop it Now! anti-child abuse charity. Some of the curriculum materials used by Stop it Now! are supplied by The Reward Foundation. Extending this pornography abstinence approach to all men who use internet pornography and have problems with violence towards women or children would be beneficial.

Cross cutting actions

17. Do you agree or disagree that the actions listed as cross cutting are the right actions to help meet the overall objectives of the delivery plan?

Please select one item
Ticked Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree

18. Please tell us about any of the cross cutting actions that you are particularly supportive of.

Comments:
Ratification of the Istanbul convention would be a huge positive step.

19. Please tell us about any cross cutting actions that you don’t agree with.

Comments:
None.

20. Are there any cross cutting actions that you think are missing?

Comments:
The Scottish Government should recognise that while the scope of the Istanbul Convention is wide, it does not mention pornography at all. Male consumption of internet pornography is a factor in generating some of the violence which the Scottish Government is trying to eliminate. The production of pornography also contributes to international human trafficking and helps to fuel the paid sex trade.
Do you have any suggestions for additional actions to focus on?
In response to the goal 'Hold an event comprising key stakeholder to look how we better tackle online hate and misogyny' The Reward Foundation would appreciate an opportunity to participate in the discussion. Within our specialist area we have a range of powerful ideas which could contribute materially to tackling online hate and misogyny. We have spoken at a number of conferences on these subjects in the UK and internationally. Similarly, for the goal 'Publish a refreshed action plan on child internet safety to ensure appropriate training, support and information is in place for professionals, children, young people and their families', The Reward Foundation is in a position to assist in further development of this action plan. We have provided relevant training sessions to more than 1,000 people in Scotland from all of these target groups in the last two years.

Performance Framework and Indicators

21. Do you agree or disagree that the draft performance framework is right to help ensure that we understand the progress we are making?

Please select one item
Agree
Ticked Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree

22. Please tell us about any sections of the draft performance framework that you are supportive of

Comments:
Everything in the draft performance framework is useful.

23. Is there anything you think is missing?

Comments:
The framework is fundamentally flawed in that it does not place sufficient emphasis on helping men to be good men, good citizens and good sexual beings. It is all about preventing or discouraging them from doing negative things towards women. It is not about empowering them to do positive things towards women and children. This comment is in no way an attempt to deny all aspects of male privilege embedded in Scottish society, or to diminish the reality that many Scottish men engage in a very wide range of violent and sexually aggressive acts towards women and children. In our opinion the framework should include a meaningful way of measuring the ways and means of changing men's hearts and minds about violence towards women and children. The emphasis at present is on stopping men from behaving badly. Work towards this goal will be much more effective if it has a large active component to help empower men to always want to behave well towards women and children. The question should be reframed to: how can men avoid having the urge to use violence in the first place? First, positive non-violent male role models need to be available for all men and boys. These role models need to be known and respected throughout Scottish society. They have to become seen as the 'normal' model of male behaviour. Their visibility has to be to other men. This element is core if we are to create a positive environment of prevention. The principles of the non-violent communication movement are one option for helping here. Second, there should be a deep analysis of the factors that drive men to become violent towards women or children. All humans have the potential to behave violently, depending on their circumstances, their personality and the environmental stimuli they are exposed to. Men generally show much more predisposition to violent behaviour that women, so the framework should look at the positive things which can be done by government and wider society to ameliorate this propensity in men. The current statistics on male sexual violence in Scotland are going in the wrong direction and strongly suggest that using a law-based approach alone will not be sufficient to eliminate male violence. The Reward Foundation has identified the consumption of internet pornography as an important issue. It models negative gender stereotypes depicting male dominance and female submission and has become a significant new vector in driving the sex crime and domestic violence figures up. This is especially so when the pornography viewed is violent towards the female performers, depicting exactly the sort of violence that Equally Safe seeks to prevent. It can contribute to an acceptance of rape culture and desensitise viewers to violence against women. Internet pornography is frequently used by contact offenders as a tool with which to groom children for sexual abuse. A key issue is that the sex and the violence shown in pornography are real. This violence is not simulated as it generally is in the violence depicted on TV or in the cinema. Equally, the depiction of consent is an issue which is generally absent. Women are shown as enjoying or at least submissively accepting violent or coercive behaviour. Safe sex with condoms or other ways of preventing the transmission of sexual diseases is rarely depicted. Pornography viewing has been shown to have a causal relationship to peer-to-peer sexual abuse among youth and The Reward Foundation has presented at conferences on this theme. Our numerous discussions with men around Scotland demonstrate that many of them struggle with the impact of pornography on their mental and physical health. Pornography use harms them and their relationships with women and in some cases children. They feel it is wrong, but everyone else is doing it. There is also a clear taboo against having effective conversations about the harms of pornography among Scottish adults of either gender. Internet pornography has become a health issue which in turn leads to legal and gender-based problems. Another effect of consuming large amounts of internet pornography is for it to make some men impotent through a condition known as Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED). Historically, before internet pornography was invented, only 2% to 5 % of the men presenting to urologists with erectile problems were men under 40 years old. The last eight international studies in this field report levels of 27% to 35% of men under 40 now making up the workload of urologists. Female university students in Scotland now talk about this as “the guys’ problem”. PIED contributes to male isolation, depression and anxiety. Some of these men with PIED may later substitute violence for their inability to perform sexually with a real partner.

24. Do you have any suggestions for additions to the draft performance framework?

Comments:
There should be a third group in the Equally Safe Priorities for 'Society'. Fundamentally it would be about creating a positive behavioural model for men. Ideally it would lead to a programme to help reduce the drivers of male propensity to violence across our society. This will have to be carefully nuanced if it is not to be counter-productive. Measures that are seen to threaten core masculinity by saying that men cannot be masculine will fail. A new view of men with positive masculinity needs to be encouraged, just without the violent component. Our initial draft for suggested wording is… “Men in Scottish society feel supported to have a positive mindset towards women and children and are empowered to reject all violent and misogynist thinking” Within the Draft Indicators, we recommend the addition of another indicator: “Amount of internet pornography consumed” with an Outcome of… “The volume of internet pornography consumed as adult entertainment is reduced”

Questions for Groups & Organisations

25. What role could your organisation have in contributing to this delivery plan?

Comments:
The Reward Foundation was created as a Scottish charity to help educate the public about how our brains learn to seek rewards and to build resilience to stress. We are now the leading body in Scotland researching and communicating about the impact internet pornography is having on the mental and physical health of individuals, their relationships, educational attainment, criminality, and our collective wellbeing as a society. We have access to a wide network international researchers working in the field. We also have the policy development skills to help make the delivery plan become more inclusive of men’s motivations and to build ways to ameliorate the negative impact that consumption of internet pornography is having on the successful delivery of the policy objectives.

26. In responding to this consultation, how are you drawing on the experiences and views of the women, children and young people who access your organisation?

Comments:
Our Chief Executive Officer Mary Sharpe is an Advocate with substantial Scottish court experience in sex crime and family law, working for both the prosecution and the defence. She also worked in law and policy development at the EC Commission in the 1990s. Mary established The Reward Foundation to ensure that the harms from over consuming internet pornography become recognised in public policy and to help create ways of reducing the potential for harms over time. Mary is a board member of the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health in the USA, a member of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Addictions and she is active in committee work for the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers. In the past three years, she has supervised the work at The Reward Foundation of four school-aged volunteers and five student placements from universities and colleges. The Reward Foundation’s experience in delivering porn-harm and mental health awareness training includes coaching over 230 teachers and trainers, providing workshops to more than 1,000 parents and direct delivery of lessons to over 1,300 secondary pupils in Scotland. This includes repeat business. Our work is firmly rooted in evidence drawn from peer-reviewed literature. We run the largest and most comprehensive website on pornography harm awareness in Scotland. As a part of this work we are building a teen-focused website and making video recordings both of experts in the field and of individuals whose lives have been impacted by pornography. These recordings will be published on the web in due course.

27. Do you have any further comments on the delivery plan?

Comments:
None.

About You

Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

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Individual
Ticked Organisation

What is your organisation?

Organisation
The Reward Foundation