Current Affairs

Increasing trend of younger people seeking help for sex and porn addiction

(Source: www.channelnewsasia.com)

SINGAPORE: Counselling centres said they are seeing an increasing trend of younger clients aged 25 and below, seeking help for sexual and porn addiction.

According to psychologists, one main risk factor that is causing more youths to grapple with sex addiction issues is the easy access and repeated exposure to Internet pornography.

We Care Community Services Centre, started offering its Sex, Porn and Love Addictions therapy in 2015, after they noticed that more people were enquiring about help for sexual addictions.

Executive director of We Care Community Services Centre, Ms Tham Yuen Han, said that when they started out these sessions, those seeking help were above the age of 25.

But as of this year – about 10 out of its 55 clients are below 25 years old.

Ms Tham said that some of their clients struggle with intense and compulsive sexual thoughts and urges while others are hooked on Internet pornography, or suffer a compulsive need to satisfy themselves sexually.

“Most of the time, we have a situation where parents discover a history of porn websites on their phone, or laptop at home and they are referred for help,” she said. 

“Young people grow up with social media and there’s a lot of sexual content on digital media that’s easily available and accessible.”

Ms Tham added: “We have many people who are just accessing porn on their mobile phone and they could be sitting across you at a dinner table or a meeting room, and no one is any wiser that they are actually browsing sexual content at the same time and right there in front of you.

Its recovery programme includes six individual mandatory sessions and two family and group and sessions that are optional.

A screening will be conducted in the initial session to identify the presence of sexual addiction and the presence of other existing mental health conditions.

Subsequently, an assessment is done to understand the severity of the addiction and to tailor make a treatment plan according to the client’s needs.

The Singapore Counselling Centre is also seeing a similar trend.

Five years ago, it saw about three clients a month below 25 years of age seeking help for sex and porn addiction.

But now, it sees about 15 clients a month requiring counselling for these addictions.

GET HELP BEFORE IT LEADS TO SEXUAL OFFENDING: MSF

The Social and Family Development Ministry acknowledged that there are many individuals who are struggling and need help with excessive or compulsive sexual behaviours, and that it is important for those suffering from these issues to seek help as it could have adverse consequences if left untreated.

For example, the time consumed when engaging in such activities, impact the other areas of their life negatively – such as relationships, work or health. In some cases, the preoccupation with sex could result in them committing sexual offences.

Ms Mavis Long, a psychologist with MSF’s Clinical and Forensic Psychology Service, said that there are several risk factors that may lead to sexual offending.

These include a struggle with intimacy issues, a lack of coping skills to manage their sexual urges and negative feelings like loneliness.

Easy access to Internet porn is also a reason why most of the sexual perpetrators they see start experimenting with sex at a younger age, says on pyschologist. (File photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

Easy access to Internet porn is also a reason why most of the sexual perpetrators they see start experimenting with sex at a younger age.

“In this day and age, Internet porn is readily available,” said Ms Long. 

“Many of the clients that we see don’t have to buy hard copy magazines of sexual material or DVDs. They can access porn with mobile phones or iPads. In that way, their parents wouldn’t find out as well.” 

She added: “With that, we’ve found many of the sexual predators start accessing porn at an earlier age, so they start experimenting with sexual acts at an earlier age. 

“Repeated exposure to this material, especially those that are deviant material, involving sexual activity with children or coerced sexual acts such as peeping or touching people without their consent may lead to them to develop deviant or atypical sexual interest.”

THE SEX ADDICT TURNED SEX OFFENDER

Ms Long recounted one example of her client, Darryl (not his real name), who used to be a top performer in primary school.

His parents described him as a good-natured and sensible child who had no behavioural problems in school.

But when he went to secondary school, he was frequently bullied by his classmates, which led him to become withdrawn and he spent most of his time at home surfing the Internet.

At 13, he chanced upon Internet pornography and this became his escape from the unhappiness he faced at school.

By 17, he was satisfying himself several times daily. Darryl added that he frequently fantasised about pornographic scenes he viewed and he found it difficult to concentrate in school which caused his grades to deteriorate.

But shortly after, he found the selection of pornographic videos online boring and took a step further by entering female toilets to peep at strangers on several occasions between 2014 and 2016.

Darryl admitted that he enjoyed the thrill subsequent to each voyeuristic act.

However, in 2016, the law caught up on him.

Ms Long said that Darryl’s situation could have been avoided if he had sought treatment earlier.

“There were a few risk factors that resulted in his sexual offending,” she said. “As he was bullied and teased in school, he isolated himself and withdrew from social contact. 

“He then turned to sexual means of coping, like watching voyeur porn, and became increasingly sexually preoccupied. 

“The lack of parental supervision as well as the thrill of peeping further reinforced his sexual offending behaviour.”

100 SUCH REFERRALS EACH YEAR: MSF

The Social and Family Development Ministry gets about 100 such referrals seeking help from the Clinical and Forensic Psychology Service (CFPS) each year.

CFPS accepts referrals to assess and treat intra-familial and extra-familial perpetrators of sexual crimes.

They are referred by the Probation and Community Rehabilitation Service, Child Protective Service, Adult Protective Service and Youth Residential Service in MSF as well as the Voluntary Children’s Homes from the community.

The majority of the cases involve peeping, exposing and taking up-skirt photos

Of these, about 90 per cent of them are assessed to need some form of treatment, which could range from individual to group therapy sessions aimed at enhancing self-esteem and reducing the risk of re-offending.

It also noted that the sexual perpetrators referred to them in the last three years are getting younger – with about 45 per cent of them aged 16 and below and the youngest aged 12 years old.

For those who underwent the treatment programmes, 80 per cent of them demonstrated a reduction in the risk of sexual re-offending at the end of the treatment.

The recidivism rate is much lower when compared to other jurisdictions. International research shows that around 50 per cent of the untreated sexual offenders reoffend sexually.

LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX

Psychologists said that one way to help prevent youth from sexual offending is for parents to have open conversations with their children.

Ms Long said: “For most of the parents I see, they haven’t had any conversation with their children about sex at all. 

“Some of them said that they think the school will do it; they don’t feel comfortable doing it themselves. So often, its only after they have committed a sexual offence then the parent sees the need to talk to their child about sex and about girls.”

Counsellors also added that the sexuality education programme in schools also play an important role in helping the young develop healthy relationships with the opposite sex.

More Info: www.channelnewsasia.com

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