No. 2 Summer 2017

WELCOME

Hope you’re enjoying the summer. TRF staff has been busy preparing for the new season ahead with school lessons starting on 1st September, talks for GPs and workshops. We have been writing papers, applying for funding and meeting a range of people in government, local authorities, in charities and in the media who may be able to help take our work forward. We’ll keep you informed as those contacts develop.

All feedback is welcome to Mary Sharpe mary@rewardfoundation.org.

In this edition

Child abuse prevention in Germany and UK


On 28th July TRF attended a one-day training event by NOTA (National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers Scotland) with 2 excellent speakers. First was Professor Klaus Beier (pictured), a leading international expert on child sexual abuse prevention and the architect of the Dunkelfeld Prevention Project in Germany. The second was Professor Kieran McCartan, a criminologist at Bristol University who explored the current and potential future responses to work with sexual offenders in the UK in light of the lessons from the Dunkelfeld project. See our story here.

Preventing adolescent harmful sexual behaviour

Mary Sharpe, our Chief Executive Officer was a co-author of a ‘think piece’ on Preventing Adolescent Harmful Sexual Behaviour for NOTA, the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers. NOTA is a charity that provides support for professionals dealing with sexual offenders. In this analysis of recent research, Mary joined a UK-wide a team led by Stuart Allardyce, the National Manager of Stop It Now! Scotland.  You can see a story on this here.

Research: Health focus

The item I’ve selected for this newsletter is called The Impact of Internet Pornography on Children. It was written by the American College of Pediatricians as a policy statement and dates from June 2016.

ABSTRACT:  The availability and use of pornography has become almost ubiquitous among adults and adolescents.  Consumption of pornography is associated with many negative emotional, psychological, and physical health outcomes.  These include increased rates of depression, anxiety, acting out and violent behavior, younger age of sexual debut, sexual promiscuity, increased risk of teen pregnancy, and a distorted view of relationships between men and women.  For adults, pornography results in an increased likelihood of divorce which is also harmful to children.  The American College of Pediatricians urges healthcare professionals to communicate the risks of pornography use to patients and their families and to offer resources both to protect children from viewing pornography and to treat individuals suffering from its negative effects.

Book recommendation

I would like to recommend a book for parents, teachers and professionals. Man, Interrupted – Why Young Men Are Struggling & What We Can Do About It is by Stanford Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Coulombe. It builds on Professor Zimbardo’s excellent 4 minute TED talk The Demise of Guys which was the partner talk to our colleague Gary Wilson’s popular TEDx talk The Great Porn Experiment.

The premise of the book is that we are facing a not-so-brave new world; a world in which young men are getting left behind. The authors say that an addiction to video games and online porn have created a generation of shy, socially awkward, emotionally removed, and risk-adverse young men who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school, and employment. Taking a critical look at a problem that is tearing at families and societies everywhere, Man, Interrupted suggests that our young men are suffering from a new form of arousal addiction. It introduces a bold new plan for getting them back on track.

The concluding chapters offer a set of solutions that can be affected by different segments of society including schools, parents, and young men themselves. Filled with telling anecdotes, results of fascinating research, perceptive analysis, and concrete suggestions for change, Man, Interrupted is a book for our time. It is a book that informs, challenges, and ultimately inspires.

Interviews

Over the past two months we have interviewed four more experts.

In June we interviewed Kenneth Cloggie, an Edinburgh criminal law solicitor explaining the procedure that a parent and child might face if charged with a sexual offence. He has seen a rise in offences related to internet offending. His interview will appear on the website in due course.

While visiting Australia in July we did a 45 minute interview with Liz Walker, a leading sex educator. Liz was first exposed to extreme pornography on the school bus aged just 6 years of age. Her story makes good reading. She now also works with anti-porn campaigner Professor Gail Dines at Culture Reframed.

Dr Paula Banca (pictured below), a neuroscience researcher from the University of Cambridge provided useful insights into the research paper she published on Novelty, conditioning and attentional bias to sexual rewards. This excellent research was recognised when it won the 2016 Research Award from the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health.

Back in Scotland, we did a preliminary interview with Anne Chilton, head of Professional Practice for Counselling with Relationships Scotland to learn about the training process for sex therapists in Scotland. She said there were around 30 professionals now trained to deal with couples and the rise in porn-related sexual health problems. She was dismayed at how little financial help there is from the Scottish Government for this growing problem.

Reward Foundation in schools

TRF will be delivering classes to pupils at Edinburgh Academy, George Watson’s and St. Columba’s Kilmacolm schools on the impact of internet pornography on health, relationships, criminality and relationships starting 1st September. We will also be speaking to parents and pupils at George Watson’s Festival of Ideas in September and to parents of pupils at Tonbridge School, England in October too.

Doctors in Edinburgh

On 13th October we are giving a lecture to the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Edinburghabout the impact of internet pornography on adolescent health. This Society has been debating medical matters since 1821.

Hear us speaking in Edinburgh

Come and join us on 16th November in the Sanctuary of the Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL when our CEO Mary Sharpe will be the main speaker as part of the Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace. She will talk on “Spirituality, Compassion and Addiction”. This will be followed by a panel discussion with other experts including parent and deputy head teacher Audrey Fairgrieve, along with dad and health campaigner, Douglas Guest. Speakers will be introduced by Darryl Mead, the Reward Foundation’s Chair.

Conference in USA

We will be delivering a workshop to a range of healthcare professionals, educators and lawyers at the annual conference of the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health in Salt Lake City on 5-7 October. The title this year is Sexual Health in a Digital World.


Family conference in Croatia

On 21st October we will be speaking at the annual family conference in Zagreb, Croatia entitled  “Family, Schools: The Key to Freedom from Addiction”. Our contribution will begin with a formal lecture in the morning and we will lead a workshop later in the day.

New strapline for the Reward Foundation

We have recently changed from “our brain on love and sex” after The Reward Foundation, to “love, sex and the internet”. The idea is to shift the emphasis to the internet without mentioning the word “porn”. We are still focused on teaching about the reward system of the brain. Some people found that the word “brain” a bit off putting, believing pre-existing knowledge of medicine or neuroscience was required to read our material. This is not the case.

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