Pornography is sexually explicit material that may be sold or distributed through a variety of media. With the internet making it readily available for anyone to view, it is estimated that over 28,000 individuals are consuming pornography at any given second. Victims of pornography may include those who are also being trafficked for sex.
According to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, “pornography is a social and physical toxin that destroys relationships, steals innocence, erodes compassion, breeds violence, and kills love. The issue of pornography is ground zero for all those concerned for the sexual health and wellbeing of our loved ones, communities, and society as a whole. Pornography is correlated with a wide-range of harms.”
MYTHS & MISCONCEPTIONS
MYTH: Watching porn is harmless to me.
FACT: Pornography is a health crisis, affecting the brain in many ways. Studies have shown that those who frequently consume pornography have brains that are “less connected, less active, and even smaller in some areas.” Pornography can fuel mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, leaving viewers to feel lonelier than before. In addition, those who frequently consume porn tend to be more violent and have less deep relationships.
MYTH: I’m not harming anyone else by watching porn.
FACT: There are many people who are harmed by pornography. First is the “actors” and the “directors,” many of whom are participating because they are being trafficked. Others are participating because they believe they have no other way to make money. Pornography is also harmful to relationships and pornography addiction often leads to divorce.
MYTH: Any pornography that I can find online only includes individuals who agreed with it.
FACT: Many individuals who are being trafficked for sex are also being forced to take part in pornography. Since anyone can put videos, photos, and information on the internet, there is never a guarantee that those featured in pornography are doing so willingly.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Be proactive. Start the conversation with your children while they are still young (ages 3-5). You could begin by giving them books and other resources that help them to develop a solid understanding of good and bad images. As they grow into pre-teens and teenagers, consider using the Theology of the Body for Teens from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Be accountable. Place filters on all electronic devices including computers, tablets, phones, and video game systems to block questionable sites. Monitor their internet usage, especially on social networking sites. Be aware of the movies and shows they are watching and ensure they are appropriate.
Be educated. Learn more about the dangers of pornography for yourself. There are some resources below for you to start.
The Safeguard Alliance complied 10 easy conversation starters to talk to your kids about the dangers of pornography.
Protect Young Minds has compiled 3 simple steps to protect kids from the skyrocketing numbers of pornography searches during the summer.
National Center on Sexual Exploitation has compiled resources for those who have been affected by pornography or sexual abuse.