Saimone K. Vuki

It is with a heavy heart that I write this article. In fact, I am lodging a formal complaint as a Tongan citizen with great concern about the issue of uncensored online adult contents that our young children have access to so readily on a daily basis. I urge the Minister responsible for Communication and his Communication Commission to have an urgent and serious look at this serious matter.

Modern technology via mobile and computer devices are the tools of communication of this generation. It becomes our “daily newspaper” as well as our “real-time radio and TV stations” on the move. Every household in Tonga owns one or more of these devices and so are many young school children.

Parents buy them for convenience of communication, but most do not really understand that these devices if connected to the internet and unprotected with proper safety and secured filtering is also a tool extremely dangerous for their children.

We know how important and convenient it is to communicate via the internet through emails and social media networks. But as concerned adults we also fully understand the evil lurking behind the screens especially the indecent, obscene (pornography) and excessive violent contents that are too dangerous for our children’s mental, moral, and spiritual wellbeing.

This is the modern-day’s newest destructive drug (pornography) that many parents are not aware or rather complacent with. It creeps into the tranquility of our homes without us suspecting of its destructive effects on our children’s mind, body, and

soul.

It affects the wellness of mankind and for children to be affected so early in life, it will take a lifetime to undo the damage done with immense consequences.

That is why more and more sexual crimes are committed by young children in Tonga today because of this dangerous drug. Reports from the Ministry of Police, our Courts, Media and the Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) regard increasing incidents of sexual violence against women, young children, and incest.

Confidential data also reveals that about 70% of Tongan boys are not doing well at school, a trend that should be alarming to all leaders in government and society as a whole. The new and main denominator I would suggest is their constant viewing of online pornography and other adult contents that they should not be allowed to have access to. It seriously affects their brain function with lack of concentration and interest in their studies.

Just the other day I heard on the radio that the WCCC was saying they are dealing with a new but very serious problem of 10 – 15-year-old girls starting to run away from home. Obviously, these young children have access to internet pornography and their minds are now affected with sexual fantasies and false promises of early sexual excitement.

Their innocence has been corrupted and stolen from them. In fact, if we do not do something to protect our children now, we will see a Tonga full of violence and immoral conduct in the not-so-distant future.

I urge the Minister responsible together with his Regulator the Communication Commission to move and enforce the following Sections of the law under the Communication Act 2015 immediately.

In fact, you can just type search any of the “prohibited content” [Section 106 (6) (a)] specified by the law under the Act on any device in Tonga and anyone can easily access all prohibited contents without any barrier or hindrance:

  1. Section 98 Censorship – A licensee shall not supply any content which:
  2. is indecent or obscene;
  3. displays excessive violence;
  4. is blasphemous;
  5. is treasonous or seditious;
  6. is defamatory; or
  7. will contravene the laws of the Kingdom.
  8. Section 106 – Take-down notices
  9. Section 108 Opt-out filtering. I recommend that the Government should fully fund the required internet Family Friendly Filtering (FFF) service for all Tongans. This is needed to ensure that every family in Tonga access to the FFF service without hindrance of cost.
  10. Section 108 & 109 Mandatory Filtering and Child pornography – This is serious and without internet Family Friendly Filtering service available and enforced plus enforcement of Section 98 (a) the risk of child pornography being access widely in Tonga is possible.

Studies have shown that pornography stimulates the same areas of the brain as addictive drugs, making the brain release the same chemicals. And just like drugs, pornography triggers pathways in the brain that cause craving, leading users back for more and more extreme “hits” to get high.

Jesus talks about the importance of our eyes to our body and soul in Matthew 6:22-23:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

One prominent minister of the gospel Josh McDowell who deals with youth problems on online pornography rightly stated: “I would rather build a rail at the top of a mountain than have an ambulance service at the bottom of the valley.”

I believe the Government should build a rail now to protect our children. We already have the laws (Communication Act 2015) under your authority to put in place safe and proper safeguards to protect our children, but we need leaders with Godly wisdom and discernment to make it happen. We need to protect our children, let them be children until they make informed decisions as adults for themselves. We can do this at the same time not infringing on any freedom of information and access online for the rest of the adult population as is fully addressed by the said law.

To-date numerous states and countries around the world have come to the realisation that online pornography is damaging to the wellbeing of their young and innocent children. The French Government in February this year launched “I protect my child” providing online tools and parental control applications for parents to protect their young children from viewing online pornography on their mobile devices.

The Australian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs after an extensive public enquiry in March 2020 concluded that: “The evidence was clear that exposure to online pornography is associated with terrible harms to young people’s health, education, relationships, and wellbeing,” the committee chair, LNP MP Andrew Wallace, said in a statement.

As a result, the Committee has tasked the Australian e-Safety Commissioner to create a “roadmap” for the creation of an age filter within 12 months for accessing online pornography in Australia.

Whilst Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron was a strong advocate for protecting the innocent of UK young children from early exposure to online pornography. He warned the UK Parliament and Internet Service Providers were “not doing enough to take responsibility” despite having a “moral duty” to do so.

I applaud PM Cameron for what he stood for and I quote: “I want to talk about the internet, the impact it is having on the innocence of our children, how online pornography is corroding childhood. And how, in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out. I’m not making this speech because I want to moralise or scaremonger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come. This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence.”(UK PM, David Cameron, July 2003).

In fact, numerous bold and strong leaders around the world are coming to the realisation that it is not an option to just stand by and watch this new dangerous drug being dished out openly to our young children. We need such leaders in Tonga and we need them now.

Finally, lets open our eyes, mind, and spirit to this warfare. Let’s not sit on the sideline as spectators but as responsible leaders of this nation, take the leading role in combatting this immoral issue. I beg you, whoever is listening, please help stop immediately access to internet pornography and extreme violence contents by our children here in Tonga.

Let’s protect their mind, body, and soul until they are old enough to make informed choices for themselves and their future.