The Harms of Pornography and Sexual Messages

Many people think that pornography is just harmless fun and that it has no detrimental effects. However, it is virtually impossible not to be affected by pornography, legal or not, and the sexual messages that saturate our society today.

Shaping Attitudes and Relationships

Research has shown that pornography and its messages are involved in shaping attitudes and encouraging behavior that can harm individual users and their families. Pornography is often viewed in secret, which creates deception within marriages that can lead to divorce in some cases. In addition, pornography promotes the allure of adultery, prostitution and unreal expectations that can result in dangerous promiscuous behavior.

Young people growing up in our already overly sexualized culture are being exposed to sexually explicit material on a daily basis through network television, movies, music and the Internet. Children are being subjected to sexual material and messages before they are mentally prepared to understand or evaluate what they are viewing. In addition, the majority of sex education is taking place in the media, not in the home, church or school.Below are some of the common, but false messages sent by our sexualized culture. 

  • Sex with anyone, under any circumstances, any way it is desired, is beneficial and does not have negative consequences.
  • Women have one value - to meet the sexual demands of men.
  • Marriage and children are obstacles to sexual fulfillment.
  • Everyone is involved in promiscuous sexual activity, infidelity and premarital sex.

Pornography and Addiction
Not only is the pornography industry, as well as the mainstream media, filling consumers' heads with these false beliefs and attitudes, but studies have found that pornography can be highly addictive. In fact, Dr. Victor Cline, an expert on sexual addiction, found that there is a four-step progression among many who consume pornography.

  1. Addiction: Pornography provides a powerful sexual stimulant or aphrodisiac effect, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation.
  2. Escalation: Over time addicts require more explicit and deviant material to meet their sexual "needs."
  3. Desensitization: What was first perceived as gross, shocking and disturbing, in time becomes common and acceptable.
  4. Acting out sexually: There is an increasing tendency to act out
    behaviors viewed in pornography.

 The National Council on Sexual Addiction Compulsivity 
estimates  that 6%-8% of Americans are sexual addicts.

 Pornography and the Community

Sexually oriented businesses, such as strip clubs and massage parlors, attract crime to communities. In addition, the general content of pornography supports abuse and the rape myth (that women enjoy forceful sex) and serves as a how-to for sex crimes, primarily the molestation of children. Land Use Studies by the National Law Center for Children & Families show evidence of the correlation of adult businesses and crime. For example, in Phoenix neighborhoods where adult businesses were located, the number of sex offenses was 506 percent greater than in areas without such businesses. The number of property crimes was 43 percent greater, and the number of violent crimes, 4 percent greater.

 Dr. Mary Anne Layden, director of education, University of Pennsylvania Health System, pointed out, "I have been treating sexual violence victims and perpetrators for 13 years. I have not treated a single case of sexual violence that did not involve pornography."

Source: Gov, Haven Bradford. "Child Sex Abuse: America's Dirty Little Secret." MS Voices for Children. 3/2000 Child PornographyMost will agree on the amount of harm caused by child pornography, which consists of photographs, videos, magazines, books and films that show children engaged in sexual acts, all of which are illegal. All production of these materials is an illegal and permanent record of the abuse or exploitation of children. Material digitally-doctored to look like child pornography was also illegal, until a Supreme Court decision in April 2002 that found the "virtual" child porn law unconstitutional. Currently, Congress is working on a new "virtual" child pornography law that will stand up to constitutional muster.Child and adult pornography is frequently used by pedophiles to lure children. The typical child molester befriends the child, often through Internet chat rooms, and, after building "trust," exposes the child to pornography. This is done in attempt to make the child think that this behavior is acceptable and to lure him or her to participate. The experience of exploitation and abuse becomes a lifelong struggle for the victim and leaves them with the fear that their photos are still out there. To learn more about the long-term effects of being a victim of child pornography, please read Sandra's story.CHILD MOLESTATION-The Department of Justice estimates one in three females, and one in seven males, will be sexually molested by age 18.

Pedophiles use pornography to stimulate themselves; to lower the inhibitions in their victims; and to teach the children what to do during a sexual encounter.

In a ten year study, the Sexually Exploited Child Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department found adult and child pornography was reportedly used in over 87% of all their child molestation cases.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE- Hard-core pornography adds to the epidemic of sexual violence and crime in America.

Rape has increased over 500% since 1960 57% of serial rapists studied admitted to imitating scenes found in pornography

CONSUMPTION OF PORNOGRAPHY- Both the 1970 and 1986 Commission on Pornography found that 12 to 17 year-old adolescents were among the largest consumer groups of pornography.

Pornography promotes and falsely justifies sexual violence against women, children and families

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