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Protecting Our Children

Good Advice on Porn Addiction: Never Do Once What You Don't Want to do for the Rest of Your Life

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

Researchers have compared pornography to heroin, and they called on Congress to finance studies on “porn addiction” and to launch a public health campaign about the dangers (Connie Cass, “Senators told about evils of porn,” Deseret Morning News, Nov. 19, 2004).

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science, responded by organizing a panel for a senate hearing. The panel pointed out that Internet pornography is corrupting children and hooking adults into an addiction that threatens their jobs and families.

Senator Brownback pointed out that children run across pornography while researching homework on the Internet, and he pointed out that vulgar ads arrive unexpectedly by e-mail. Of concern to parents should be the fact that David Rose of the Utah Crimes Against Children Task Force estimated that 95 percent of our children have been accidentally exposed to Internet pornography in one form or another.

And my experience after talking to hundreds of addicts and asking them what initially started them on the path to addiction is that 95 percent of them said the initial item that served as a starter toward addiction was just a magazine picture or swimsuit images. Most youth don't even look at those pictures as being pornography. Sometimes the images just initiate curiosity that then moves the child or teen on to more explicit material. We need to talk to our kids.

No child, no youth, no adult, no grandfather would pursue this in any way if he/she realized the end result. Even if addiction is not an element, it changes how a person views women and girls. It often changes a person's capability to build a wholesome relationship in a marriage.

Now in today's world the Internet is “starting” lots of children, youth and adults on the path to sexual addiction, but we need to realize that the curiosity elicited by magazine covers and their content also is a major contributor.

Mary Anne Layden, co-director of a sexual trauma program at the University of Pennsylvania , said pornography's effect on the brain mirrors addiction to heroin or crack cocaine. She encouraged billboards and bus ads warning people to avoid pornography and activities that are related to it.

As we ask our children and our teens what they have been exposed to, it is important to show no anger. If we do so as parents, our children will not talk to us about this subject. They can find pornography in many locations. Education on the subject is the key. Addicts tell me that those inappropriate images appear in their minds every day of their lives, even after they are “recovered addicts.” They realize that they have lost some of their agency by getting involved, and every addict I know is sorry he ever looked at that first picture.

One addict gave this good advice: “Never do once what you don't want to do for the rest of your life.” Good people get caught in this addiction just because they were curious or perhaps they were accidentally exposed.

Someone involved needs help from an ecclesiastical leader, a counselor who understands the problem and a support group or person, and there are good programs available.

Pornography is not a harmless or victimless addiction. “Studies . . . show prolonged use of pornography leads to ‘sexual callousness, the erosion of family values and diminished sexual satisfaction,'” said James B. Weaver, a Virginia Tech professor who studies the impact of pornography.


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