Newsletter No. 9 Spring 2020

Welcome to Spring! We hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather and coping well with the strange environment we are all finding ourselves in this Springtime. Stay safe.
At The Reward Foundation we have taken the opportunity of gaps in our diary to catch up with a range of jobs including this belated newsletter. Ahem! Here are a few of the activities that have kept us busy these past few months: presenting workshops and talks in a range of places; studying new research; producing research papers ourselves; speaking in schools and to journalists and planning our strategy for the year ahead. Fun, fun and more fun.
In addition to news highlights, we’ve selected a few blogs from the past few months in case you missed them on the website. Here’s a link to the main list of  blogs

It’s too easy to spend free time fretting and ruminating about the negative side of this time. So to redress the balance a bit here are a few aphorisms to put our thoughts on the positive:

“I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears of all my life!”  by Elizabeth Browning

“Love is all we have, the only way that we can help each other.” by Euripides

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says: ‘I need you because I love you.’ “ by E. Fromm

 All feedback is welcome to Mary Sharpe [email protected].

Breaking News for Spring 2020

New Documentary by Parents for Parents about Porn’s Effects on Kids

Please sign up for Vimeo to watch the trailer for this new documentary made by parents in New Zealand. The mother is Scottish. 

The trailer is free, but viewing the underlying video costs a few dollars. Rob and Zareen made this on a shoestring budget using their skills and sheer determination, so please purchase it if you can. Thanks.

Poster for Our Kids Online. Porn, Predators and How to keep them safe.
BBC Scotland: The Nine – Sexual Strangulation

In December last year, BBC Scotland The Nine interviewed TRF’s Mary Sharpe about the alarming rise in sexual strangulation cases following the death of Grace Millane in New Zealand. See the interview here.

Mary Sharpe, Jenny Constable, Martin Geissler and Rebecca Curran
Mary Sharpe, Chair of The Reward Foundation and journalist Jenny Constable, with The Nine studio hosts Martin Geissler and Rebecca Curran

This sad case is not an isolated one and is more complicated than it first appears. According to a 2019 survey by The Sunday Times twice as many young women under the age of 22 years (Generation Z) pick rough sex and BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism and masochism) as their favourite forms of porn compared to young men. This poses huge problems for courts in sexual assault cases when considering whether or not there has been true consent to sexual strangulation, a form of BDSM.

Valentine’s Day in Belfast

We were delighted with the warm reception we received on Valentine’s Day in Lisburn, near Belfast. We came to participate in Northern Ireland Sexual Health Week. There was a marvellous turnout of professionals across the healthcare and social work sectors. We presented on the subject of “Internet Pornography and Sexual Dysfunction.” Again, we were not surprised to discover that many GPs, male and female, were unaware of the link between high levels of internet pornography use and sexual dysfunctions in young men. They would like to invite us back for more.

TRF at the Lagan Valley Civic Centre, Lisburn in Northern Ireland.
TRF at the Lagan Valley Civic Centre, Lisburn in Northern Ireland.
Listen to the addiction experts

It would be really worth your while to take the time to listen to and learn from these two professors of psychology. Kent Berridge from the University of Michigan, USA and Frederick Toates from the Open University in the UK are leading experts on addiction. What drives motivation, pleasure and pain? It is so important to understand how our children and young people are becoming addicted to pornography, gaming, gambling etc. It is the first step so we can help them lead healthy lives in the future. 

Professor Kent Berridge and Professor Frederick Toates
Professors Kent Berridge and Frederick Toates
Teaching in Scotland

We were lucky to manage one last full day workshop on 17th March in Kilmarnock before the lockdown took hold. The subject was “Internet Pornography and Gendered Violence”.
An interesting fact that emerged from an earlier workshop with this Council was that sex offenders and those charged with domestic violence are treated differently by the legal authorities. For instance, there are different risk assessment tools for each category and in neither case is the issue of pornography addiction ever considered. By making the link to how compulsive use of internet pornography can lead to poor decision making, aggression and impulsivity in some users, criminal justice social workers can find better interventions to help reduce the incidence of domestic violence going forward. Heavy porn use can lead to both domestic violence and sexual offending. We hope to work with this Council again later this year.

East Ayrshire Council logo

Fun, short video for children of all ages!

The Reward Foundation is part of a consortium of organisations. We are campaigning the UK government to implement the Age Verification legislation for porn sites. Please send this video out to as many children, parents, youth organisations, MPs, social media influencers as you can to support the messageFind it here:

Age Verification for Porn

Spring Blogs


“Capping” is about tricking children into doing something inappropriate, for example, while they are livestreaming. Then without the child’s knowledge, images or recordings of the inappropriate behaviour are “captured”. They are subsequently used to extort or sextort the victim. Pedophiles and other sexual predators are ardent cappers but so are people who have absolutely no sexual interest in children. They are just looking for easy ways to get money or goods. This can be extremely distressing to children who have no idea how to cope with such threats.

Capping is capturing livestreaming images of children for exploitation purposes
Big Porn Seeks to Capitalize on the Pandemic

“At a time of crisis, the porn industry adds yet more human misery. Pornhub has made premium content free all over the world.” Viewing and sales have rocketed as a result…
“In the 1980 movie Airplane!, the air-traffic controller Steve McCroskey struggles to guide a plane whose crew have all been knocked out by food poisoning to safety. “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking,” he says, sweating profusely. Later, he adds that it was also the wrong week to “quit amphetamines” and then again “the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.”

Image by Sebastian Thöne from Pixabay
WePROTECT Global Alliance

Parents often ask us what governments should be doing to reduce the risk of online harms to their children. This blog introduces some of the most important players, including the WePROTECT global alliance.

Click here to learn more about the Global Alliance and the “Five Eyes” group.

WePROTECT Global Alliance
Sexting and the Law

Parents may be shocked to know that while consensual sexting is widespread, coercive sexting is pretty common too. Research shows that it is influenced by pornography watching as it encourages bullying, manipulation and deceit. This blog includes our own pages about sexting and legal liability. It also has an interesting article from The Guardian newspaper.  

Free Parents’ Guide to Internet Porn

Cooped up at home during the pandemic, many children with easy access to the internet will be accessing adult material. This may look like harmless fun, but the effects will show in due course. If you are a parent learn as much as you can about how to talk to your children about pornography. It’s nothing like porn of the past. See our Free Parents’ Guide to Internet Pornography for a variety of videos, articles, books and other resources. It can help you have those difficult conversations.

Free Parent's Guide to Internet Pornography

The Reward Foundation on Twitter

TRF Twitter @brain_love_Sex

Please follow The Reward Foundation on Twitter @brain_love_sex. There you will find regular updates about new research and developments in this field as they appear.