02 Jun Internet Pornography Harms Families
“[Online pornography] is a serious national problem that is causing irreparable injury to our most important resource — our children.”
– Solicitor General Theodore Olson, in oral arguments to the U.S. Supreme Courtviews
The Internet is a wonderful and amazing invention that truly gives us the world at our fingertips. It often makes our lives easier and offers tremendous mechanisms for doing business, keeping in touch with people, shopping, learning, etc. It has also provided a tremendous opportunity for pornographers of every kind to come right into our homes and into the minds of our children.
“Since the arrival of the Internet . . . pornography has become the most pervasive and immediate threat to marriages and families – adults and children. Addiction and divorce are the most recognizable social costs of pornography, but the costs run much deeper.” (UFI Family Guide – Pornography) The Internet has truly brought pornography into places that society has not seen before and has offered it to children and adults alike in huge quantities through computers, phones, electronic games and music players and anything else that connects to the Internet.
Pornography is highly destructive to families and the relationships between men, women and children. It tears at the fabric of healthy society and even threatens our democracy as its terrible effects play out in increased crime, violence and family destruction.
Why Pornography is so Dangerous
The preponderance of social science research demonstrates how pornography harms men, women, children, families and marriages and poisons homes, workplaces, governments, communities – while corrupting the mass media culture.
Pornography is highly addictive – for some people even more addictive than cocaine. Dr. Robert Weiss defined sexual addiction as an inability to stop despite negative consequences, such as lost sleep, lost wages or damaged relationships.
Fantasies do affect behavior, by altering sexual preferences and actions. In the normal progression of the addiction, pornography addicts eventually act out their fantasies. Law enforcement authorities find evidence of ties between pornography and individuals engaging in sex crimes in eight out of 10 cases.
According to Dr. Victor Cline, who has treated more than 3,000 sex addicts and sexual offenders, the common course of unchecked porn addiction advances from addiction to escalation to desensitization to acting out.
“More than 3,000 research projects and scientific studies between 1960 and 1992 have confirmed the connection between a steady diet of violent entertainment and aggressive and anti-social behavior.”
Michael Medved, Hollywood vs. America (1992), New York: HarperCollins, 243.
“Significant effects of pornography are feelings of aggression and abuse. Exposure to particular kinds of erotic imagery can result in an increase in aggressive sexual fantasies, aggressive behavior, acceptance of anti-female attitudes, and specifically, in male aggression against females.” Neil Malamuth and Edward Donnerstein, Pornography and Sexual Aggression, (New York: Academic Press, 1984).
History and research reveal the many harms of pornography:
Pornography seeks out people from all walks of life, then poisons and corrupts them. The allure of substantial profits seduces corporations, hotel chains, cable television companies and Internet entrepreneurs – without concern for the well-being of families.
Pornography has the propensity to deaden husbands’ attraction for their wives. The result is often heartache, alienation, and divorce.
Pornography is a perpetrator of family breakdown.
Pornography demeans its participants. It is a form of prostitution, and porn subjects are frequently the victims of molestation, rape, coercion and blackmail.
Pornography corrupts children and robs them of their innocence. Children have been raped and murdered by the producers of pornography.
Organized crime is heavily involved in pornography, and crime rates are much higher in the neighborhoods where pornography is available.
Pornography takes billions of dollars out of economies that could be much better spent on the needs of families.
Pornography is not a benign phenomenon; it leaves a clearly discernible trail of victims. The scenes of sex crimes and the homes of those committing sex crimes are frequently littered with pornography. Pornography creates callous attitudes toward rape and causes users to develop distorted perceptions about sexuality.
Pornography acts as a harmful “drug.” Physiologically, viewing pornography commonly triggers internal, endogenous drug production. An image in a person’s head acts as an electrical signal for no more than a few seconds can leave a trace that will last for years.
Pornography distorts a healthy understanding of human sexuality.
Pornography is pervasive, and no one is beyond its reach. One does not have to look for pornography; it will find you.
Driven by greed and a disregard for families and consumers, businesses continually seek to expand pornography’s reach by creating new markets.
Pornography contributes to the rising tide of sex trafficking.
Source: Guide to Family Issues: Pornography.
Pornography on the Internet
“Internet pornography is pornography that is distributed by means of various sectors of the Internet, primarily via websites, peer-to-peer file sharing, or Usenet newsgroups. While pornography had been traded over the Internet since the 1980s, it was the invention of the World Wide Web in 1991 as well as the opening of the Internet to the general public around the same time that led to an explosion in online pornography.
Like videotapes and DVDs, the Internet has proved popular for distributing pornography because it allows people to view pornography (essentially) anonymously in the comfort and privacy of their homes. It also allows access to pornography by people whose access is otherwise restricted for legal or social reasons.”
The following facts illustrate some aspects of Internet pornography:
Sex is the most searched word in the Internet
266 new porn sites appear on the Net everyday
70% of Internet porn traffic happens during the 9-5 workdays
35% of all Internet downloads are pornography related
There are an estimated 372 million web pages of adult sex viewing pages
Twenty-six popular children’s characters, such as Pokemon, My Little Pony and Action Man, were used as search terms to lure children into thousands of porn sites. Thirty percent were hardcore. Envisional, 2000
Internet Pornographers Target Children
Unfortunately, instead of minimizing minors’ exposure to their product, pornographers are actually going after the younger age group. Children are viewed as current porn consumers.
Scores of online pornographers have embedded the names of popular children’s toys in their websites so that Internet users are directed to their site when searching for toys. Most children have encountered online porn and one in five has been sexually propositioned by adults or other children forwarding porn to them.
Some children’s websites are besieged by pop-up ads for adult sites. It is not uncommon for “children’s” video games to feature pimps, prostitutes, and full nudity.
Boys in the 12-to-17 age range constitute pornography’s largest consumer group. It is not then surprising that the number of treatment centers for juvenile sex offenders has risen exponentially in recent years.
Pornographic sites on the Internet show free sample images and some sites employ the practice of “mousetrapping” – making it impossible to navigate out of their sites unless one shuts down the computer.
The pornography industry and organizations sympathetic to the pornography industry, such as the ACLU, have aggressively fought attempts by communities to place filters on library computers.
The only true “policing” available to prevent children from entering pornographic Internet sites is the involvement of parents and guardians in computer use. Unsupervised minors, who are naturally curious to learn about sexuality, are a mere click away from entering porn sites.
See the UFI Family Guide – Pornography for more information.
Internet Laws and Policies
Unfortunately, the fight against Internet pornography is an uphill battle. Those with a vested interest in the Internet and the pornography industry do not want to see any kind of filtering or meddling with their systems. They employ powerful lobbying efforts to influence law makers and those entities that control the Internet.
The United States Congress has passed various bills since 1996 that have attempted to regulate children’s access to sexually explicit material but they have not had a great deal of success.
The Communications Decency Act (CDA): Passed in 1996, the CDA represents Congress’s first attempt to regulate children’s access to sexually explicit material on the Internet. The CDA made it illegal to put “indecent” content on the Internet where kids could find it. However, the Supreme Court unanimously declared the CDA unconstitutional in 1997 in Reno v. ACLU for “broad suppression of speech addressed to adults”; the term “indecent” was found to be too vague.
The Child Online Protection Act (COPA): In 1998 a narrower version of the CDA required commercial Web sites to verify proof of age before giving users access to sexually explicit material considered obscene for minors. COPA was immediately challenged by the ACLU and other civil liberty organizations, and in 1999 a permanent injunction was ordered against its enforcement. On May 13, 2002, in ACLU v. Ashcroft, the Supreme Court directed a lower court to reexamine its ruling that COPA was unconstitutional. On March 7, 2003, the court again found that COPA was unconstitutional. On June 29, 2004 the Supreme Court kept in place the 1999 lower-court ruling against the enforcement of COPA, but ordered the lower court to consider whether recent advancements in filtering technologies could protect children more or less effectively than the criminal sanctions specified in COPA. On January 23, 2009, the government lost its final attempt to revive COPA as the Supreme Court said it won’t consider overturning the ruling of a lower federal court that struck COPA down as unconstitutional.
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA): In 2000, Congress enacted CIPA, which took effect in April 2001, requiring schools and libraries receiving federal technology funds to install pornography-blocking software on their computers. The American Library Association filed suit alleging that the library portion of CIPA was unconstitutional on its face. On May 31, 2002, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania agreed. The U.S government appealed that decision, and on June 23, 2003, the Supreme Court overturned the district court’s ruling. (The school portion of CIPA has not yet been challenged, so its constitutionality remains untested.)
United Families has taken a step to influence the reduction of pornography by joining other pro-family organizations and individuals in soliciting the support of Attorney General Eric Holder in seeking vigorous prosecution of illegal pornography, i.e. obscenity. We believe there is a strong sentiment for a standard of decency in our society and UFI will do all in its power to make sure that sentiment is heard.
What You Can Do to Keep Your Family Safe
The world has changed and parents must work hard to keep their families and children safe from unwanted exposure to Internet pornography. Facebook, MySpace, Craigslist, chat rooms, instant messenger and discussion boards are a common activity for almost everyone these days. Phones, music players (like iPod Touch), handheld electronic games (like Sony PSP) and other Wi-Fi enabled devices are all a part of our world and offer opportunities for exposure to pornography.
Here are some safety tips to help keep your family safe:
Place your computer in an area of your home where you can easily supervise your child’s Internet activity. If you allow your child to have a webcam, place it in a public area of your house.
Teach your children to never give personal information over the Internet, such as name, address, telephone number, password, parents’ names, the name of any club or team he/she is involved in, name of his/her school or after-school job.
Instruct your kids never to plan a face-to-face meeting with someone that they have met online.
Disallow children’s use of chat rooms/Recognize that chat rooms are the playground of today’s sexual predator.
Limit your child’s Instant Messaging to a parental-approved buddy list. Regularly check your child’s buddy list to ensure that it has not been altered.
Spend time with your child online, and talk to them about their Internet use. Establish an atmosphere of trust regarding computer usage and online activities.
Know your kids’ online activities and friends. Regularly ask your kids about their online friends and activities. Role play with your children various dangerous scenarios that they could encounter online. Monitor the sites they are visiting by clicking the Internet browser’s History button.
Be aware of your children’s online profiles containing personally identifiable information or pictures of themselves and make sure the profiles are set to “private.”(i.e., Facebook.com, MySpace.com, AOL profiles, etc.) Ask your child to add you as a “friend” on his/her profile page and be aware of what your child is posting. (Many children have more than one profile.) Know your child’s screen names and passwords.
Use parental controls/filtering or monitoring technology that block access to dangerous sites and activities.
Establish online rules and an agreement with your children about Internet use at home and outside of the home (i.e., at a friend’s house, at school, at the library, etc).
Monitor the amount of time your children spends on the Internet, and at what times of day. Excessive time online, especially at night, may indicate a problem. Remind your children that Internet use is a privilege, not a right.
Understand if your child’s phone, music player or electronic game device is Wi-Fi enabled and talk to your child about the possible dangers. Monitor the internet activity on these devices.
Put a password on your home Wi-Fi system so children cannot access the Internet without your knowledge.
Check with your children’s school to see if student projects, artwork or photos are being put on school websites. Schools need to be reminded of that risk and encouraged to allow access to student activities posted on the school’s website by password only.
Report any content or activity that you suspect as illegal or criminal to local law enforcement and to Cybertipline at 1-(800)-843-5678.
We Must Speak Out
Internet pornography poses an incredible threat to our families, our communities, and our nations. The destructive nature of pornography is well documented and continues to escalate at an alarming rate because of the Internet and World Wide Web. We must speak out at all levels against this insidious force by encouraging our lawmakers to enact laws that truly protect our families. We can also encourage the Internet providers to protect our families by offering more options for filtering and obscenity restrictions. This is a battle that we must be engaged in if we hope to counteract the powerful forces that will only become increasingly determined to control the Internet.
United Families International stands for the respect for the sanctity of human life including that of unborn children using peaceful and lawful means.
This week it has been announced that Dr. George Tiller, one of the few providers in the United States of late-term abortions, was killed.
United Families wishes to express its deepest condolences to Dr. Tiller’s family and believes that his assassin should be captured and brought to swift and legal justice.
We denounce the murder of Dr. Tiller, regardless of the killer’s motivation. United Families maintains a strict non-violence policy and we condemn any and all acts of violence as a means to resolve the abortion conflict.
United Families will continue our work to protect life from contraception through natural death and hope you will join us.
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