by Karen Karpinski, Director of Education

As a nation we can no longer ignore the fact that pornography has an overwhelming presence in today’s society, and that it is causing great harm to our youth.  As young people develop and try to determine who they are and what they believe, the idea that sexual exploitation of individuals, abusive sex, and violence are acceptable should never be communicated to them. Yet it is – in movies, on TV, in books and definitely on the internet.  An unregulated Internet has made it difficult to protect children from these exposure. Anyone, including a child that has access to a computer or a smart phone can type in a harmless word and instantly be flooded with pornographic images.  The average age that children are exposed to pornography is 11, but we know many are expose at even earlier ages.  Young people have related that while they did not seek that exposure, when bombarded by pornography via various media it naturally raises their curiosity.  They tend to continue watching as well as searching more content to support or formulate their own ideas and concepts about sex. Researches find that children do not always act immediately on what they have viewed, but rather they store those images and knowledge to be used when their own situation brings it out. However, learning about sex through pornography distorts a child’s developmental process and provides misinformation about sexuality and a sense of self that leaves the child damaged and changed.

The Journal of Adolescent Health reports the following:

  • Pornography gives children unrealistic ideas about sex and the opposite gender (often that violence is appropriate and women are to be subjugated), affecting their ability to develop healthy relationships. It becomes difficult to form normal intimate relationships.
  • With over 90% of youth ages 12-18 using the Internet, the media has arguably become the leading sex educator in the U.S. today instead of parents and school education programs.
  • Children exposed to pornography tend to engage in sexual acts at younger ages, resulting in increased STDs, unwanted pregnancy and many other emotional consequences.
  • The average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 11.  90% of 8-16 year olds have viewed porn online, and most admit that it is while doing homework.

Pornography is leading to life-long addictions for children and adults, to the increased demand for trafficked women and children, to violence against women and increased child sexual abuse and child pornography.  We need parents, caring adults and every person in this country to take a stand and demand that our children not be exposed to this immoral and destructive material.  I encourage you to contact your state and federal representative and let them know we want internet providers and the technology industry to block this kind of content.  If individuals want pornography on their devices, they should have to ask for it when they purchase the technology!