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Where can I go when the battlefield is my own mind

by JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton This is a question asked by youth. If you have an open and honest conversation with any young man these days, he will admit that he hates the bombardment of sexual messages that he is constantly exposed to. "Everywhere I go and almost everywhere I look, I see sexual images," youth tell me.

The people who say, "It doesnít bother me," have already been desensitized. The pornography in their minds will escalate and at some time cause them problems unless they consciously work with it.

Dr. Victor Cline tells us that images exposed to the brain in an emotional manner remain there available for recall at unwanted times. Physically abused people can retreat to a shelter, alcoholics can attend AA meetings, but where can our youth go so they can get relief from the images in their brains that surface at unwanted times?

So when we ask who the victims of pornography are, we must list our youth first because they will spend a lifetime dealing with the images in their minds, some of which come from a movie that was excellent but only had "one bad scene." Other images come from magazine covers seen in grocery store checkout lanes, from catalogs or from a porn magazine found in the gutter. And unless we are shopping in "Family Friendly" grocery stores that cover inappropriate magazine covers, we need to list our children as victims because of their exposure to pictures and "teasers" on the magazines displayed there. I might add that Maceys Grocery store, Dickís Market on Pages Lane in Centerville and Winegarís Market Place, the latter on 3371 So. Orchard Drive in North Salt Lake, have "family friendly" checkout lanes, i.e. they cover inappropriate magazines, leaving them available for purchase by those who want them but not open to the exposure of our children.

If you want a "family friendly" grocery store near you, tell the manager that you are sorry. You would like to continue shopping at his store, but you just canít allow your children to be exposed by the magazines he has on display. The manager will want your business. If a neighborhood group sends letters to him individually or makes this comment in person, he will listen to you. If not, shop elsewhere. Your purchasing ability has power. One owner told me that the requests of five or six families would cause him to make a change in his store.

If you have a good relationship with your children and they are open with you, you might be surprised at how many young children are dealing with "bad thoughts." Hopefully parents can help them, but Enough is Enough, a nonprofit organization that fights pornography, sent out a newsletter showing that 60% of the unwanted exposures to sexual material and 75 percent of the sexual solicitations were not reported to a parent. That means the child or teen is getting no support to deal with the problem in a world where addiction comes so quickly, sometimes in just three months, on the internet. Forty four percent of the unwanted sexual exposures were not discussed with anyone, even peers. The study, "Online Victimization: A Report on the Nationís Youth," was funded by the U.S. Congress. (Enough is Enough, Fall, 2000, p. 6)

As mentioned in a previous article, children who see pornography often sexually abuse other children, sometimes in the name of play. Now friends and siblings are among the victims. Because pornography escalates and changes the thinking of the viewer, there are more date rape and incest victims. The wife of a pornography viewer is a victim because she canít compete with his experience on the internet, empty as it becomes. She is a victim. He is a victim. Usually if the father is involved, at least some of the children get involved. And we havenít yet mentioned the people who are photographed and used. Children used in child porn are devastated and the women involved pay a price.

I have mentioned before that there is a four step road to getting back into control:

Time spent with a member of your clergy, working with the atonement of Jesus Christ, a counselor who is experienced in working with sexual addictions and a support person who has either been through this process or really understands it. And even when the person is "in control" the battle can reemerge in the mind of the person.

The biggest problem that I see is the lack of parent awareness about this issue. Parents who understand how easy addiction comes will protect their child. They will shop in stores that do not display openly the sexually explicit material on magazine covers, they will help their children role play what they will do when someone on the elementary school ground wants to show them a "bad picture." They will teach their children at a young age that there are videos, movies and television shows that are teaching false values and showing things that are not appropriate. They will set a good example by not personally getting involved with any of this. They will engrain in the souls of their youth that it is not "just a bad picture." It will mess up their happiness in their marriage.

And then youth need to be taught how wonderful intimacy in a marriage can be. They need to realize that lust is empty and causes all sorts of problems. Lust is displayed on the television screen as if it has no consequences. Real love shows respect, is honorable, and wonderful in the bounds of a marriage.

Many surveys indicate that married people are happier, live longer and are more content. This needs to be taught by example as well as precept so that our youth avoid pornography in any form and therefore do not grow up feeling like they will always have a battlefield in their mind and no place to retreat from it.

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