Monday, July 28, 2014

In our opinion: Pornography's young victims

Deseret News editorial,

Published: Sun, Jan. 5 12:00 a.m. MST

 Parents face the enormous obligation to teach their children how to avoid such images and to guide them through the landmines they might encounter both at home and on computers at friends' houses or elsewhere.

Parents face the enormous obligation to teach their children how to avoid such images and to guide them through the landmines they might encounter both at home and on computers at friends' houses or elsewhere.

(Igor Mazej, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The visceral reaction in Britain to Prime Minister David Cameron’s new rule requiring all Internet providers to block pornography unless users specifically request otherwise has been astounding.

One person has devised an extension to the Chrome browser that reroutes access and allows people to get around the restrictions without making their intentions known. He calls it “Go away Cameron,” or GAC, for short.

The sheer foolishness and cruelty of such a device should be obvious to people who understand pornography’s effects on modern society. Not only does it compromise and degrade the psyches of the subjects it portrays, it distorts human interactions and expectations among those who view it, and in many cases leads to addictions that can cause people to cease functioning.

Cameron has explained he wants to prevent children from accidentally stumbling upon pornography online. If nations truly value children and their futures, his initiative ought to be copied worldwide. But the way people quickly are developing work-around strategies to thwart Cameron points out the difficulties involved in protecting young people.

Parents face the enormous obligation to teach their children how to avoid such images and to guide them through the landmines they might encounter both at home and on computers at friends’ houses or elsewhere.

That is clear also from the Deseret News report on adolescent pornography addiction, by Sara Israelsen-Hartley. Perhaps the most heart-wrenching quote in that piece is from Clay Olsen, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Fight the New Drug. He asks, “As a 7-year-old gets not just exposed, but develops a compulsion to viewing hard-core, violent pornography, what is that doing to their attitudes and perceptions toward women, love and what intimacy looks like?”

Pornography, he said, is “really kind of messing our society up.” That may be an understatement. As more young people are exposed to it and develop habits associated with viewing it, they will have trouble developing healthy relationships that could lead to well-adjusted family life.

At its worst, such an early exposure can lead to murder. In Colorado late last year, a judge sentenced 18-year-old Austin Sigg to life in prison for murdering and dismembering a 10-year-old girl. Sigg said the trouble started when he became addicted to pornography at an early age. He wrote to a Christian Therapist asking for help. But the problem started anew after the therapy ended. He told a detective he watched violent porn and decided to act out his fantasies, the Denver Post reported.

That is an extreme case, of course, But even at its best, early exposure to pornography likely results in distorted expectations from members of the opposite sex and an inability to see them as much other than objects. Early exposure leads to a greater likelihood of engaging in promiscuous behavior, often involving aggression, research shows. Young minds are developing connections that set the tone for a lifetime of behavior.

And while finding a 7-year-old who is addicted to hard-core pornography is unusual, it is not unheard of. As the Deseret News report says, the age of first exposure is continually getting younger. Today it is around age 11 or 12, on average. Many parents can attest to the difficulty involved in keeping children away from unwanted images, even of a softer variety, that are so prevalent on the Internet.

Viewed with a full understanding of the risks and hazards involved, and the innocent age of the youngest victims, to spend time and energy thwarting Britain’s new restrictions should be unthinkable. Instead, public opinion ought to be squarely behind the prime minister and urging politicians in the United States to follow his lead.

The stakes are as high as the public’s level of ignorance on the subject.

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1. Pagan
Salt Lake City, UT,
Jan. 5, 2014

The one thing I have noticed…

‘Utah No. 1 in online porn subscriptions, report says’ – By Elaine Jarvik – 03/03/09 – DSNews

Line:
‘That's the conclusion of a Harvard economics professor who tracked subscriptions to online porn sites. Utah ranks No. 1 in subscriptions, according to Benjamin Edelman, who reported his findings in the article "Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?," published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.’

Is that people rallying 'against' pornography, are typically the ones who use it, the most.

And yes…

this article was reported by our own Deseret news.

2. Mukkake
Montreal, QC, 00,
Jan. 5, 2014

[One person has devised an extension to the Chrome browser that reroutes access and allows people to get around the restrictions without making their intentions known.]

I, as well as others, mentioned the ease of these kinds of technologies on numerous articles diacussing the British, Icelandic, and other initiatives.

This is what you get when policy makers lack basic understanding of information technology. Usually their restrictions do nothing to curtail the targeted content, but actually inhibit legitimate uses and fuether innovation.

The sad thing is it was a Brit, Tim Berners-Lee, who gave us the Web in the first place, and now another, Cameron, that's trying to sabotage it.

3. DavidNL
Holladay, UT,
Jan. 5, 2014

This is a complicated question yet one part of the answer is clear: parents must discuss sexuality with their children at an early age -- frankly, honestly and without shame or embarrassment then keep the door open for many follow up conversations. While schools can assist (if allowed) and religions can add their bit for those aligned, it is within the home that these conversations must be had and it's simply not happening. I realize that sexuality is a sensitive topic, but I am astounded by the extreme taboo that surrounds this topic. Until parents can resolve their own discomfort and begin frank conversations of sexuality, including pornography, there is little hope for our kids -- they'll simply turn to what is easy and available. While technology made graphic imagery ubiquitous and simple to access, it's not the problem and likewise it's not the answer. Parents are the answer. We owe it to our kids to get our act together on this topic and give kids the guidance they deserve in a world full of extreme challenges.

4. Tumbleweed
Centerville, UT,
Jan. 6, 2014

Consider the following contrast:

Pray is not allowed in school because of the concern that an atheist child could be offended, however, pornographers are allowed to pipe an admittedly highly addicting product into our homes that several mass murderers, including Ted Bundy, have admitted contributed to their crimes. Twisted?

5. raybies
Layton, UT,
Jan. 6, 2014

We need to stop trading our children and children's children's future happiness and their chances at one of the most sacred and special human relationships possible for our own data-conveniences. Open data was a nice idea, until we discover that not all data is created equally. Our networks are mired with predators seeking to take advantage. A majority of young adults see nothing wrong with porn, even justifying it as a healthy sexual alternative to real human contact (I've heard it argued that it prevents sexually transmitted disease).

Children are still forming basic connections in their brains to what's normal and brings happiness. They do not have the cognitive capacity to discern, and cannot simply "stop" once an addictive pattern takes root in their minds. We adults need to stop justifying the need to keep the internet "free", when it already isn't. It must stop being funny to take a childhood toy and sexualize it and then publish it on the local jokesite. We need to stop laughing at filthy minds. It's time, for our children's sake, we grew up.