Statement On Pornography Released
Special Report - March 17, 2010
Pornography is increasingly widespread, addictive, and harmful to women and children, as well as to those who consume it, according to a groundbreaking new statement released yesterday by The Witherspoon Institute. The statement is signed by a politically and religiously diverse group of more than 50 of the nation’s top experts in the fields of psychology, philosophy, sociology, law, and political theory, who met at Princeton University in December 2008 to study the harms of pornography and make recommendations. The result of that two-day conference is The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations, which is described as “the first multifaceted, multidisciplinary, scholarly exploration of pornography since the advent of the Internet.”
“Overall, the body of research on pornography reveals a number of negative attitudes and behaviors that are connected with its use,” writes Mary Anne Laydon, Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the signers of the statement. “It functions as a teacher, a permission-giver, and a trigger of these negative behaviors and attitudes. The damage is seen in men, women, and children, and to both married and single adults. It involves pathological behaviors, illegal behaviors, and some behaviors that are both illegal and pathological.”
The statement includes eight specific findings about pornography and its harms, including that: pornography today is so widespread that “no one remains untouched by it;” today’s pornography is very different from the pornographic material of the past, particularly because of the Internet, which makes it more addictive, but also because of the “increasingly ‘hard-core’ character of what is consumed;” the consumption of Internet pornography is particularly harmful to women and children, as well as to consumers; and the use of Internet pornography is also harmful to “people not immediately connected to consumers of pornography,” such as the victims of sexual exploitation.
The statement also includes a number of specific recommendations for the therapeutic community, educators, journalists, private industry and government. Among them:
- Therapists are urged to “cease” the practice of encouraging “the use of pornography in their counseling to couples as a ‘marital aid.’”
- Journalists are encouraged to examine “the links between human trafficking and the pornography industry.”
- Corporations are urged to “implement policies in the workplace that make it clear there is no tolerance for pornography and sexual exploitation.” However, the statement also recommends that employers recognize that pornography can be addictive and assist employees who may have a pornography problem with “breaking the habit rather than simply firing him or her.”
- The hospitality industry is also warned to “be mindful of its responsibilities to society,” and urged to block access to pornography on hotel televisions, where many people are exposed to porn for the first time.
- Political leaders are urged to “use the bully pulpit for a public campaign to show that pornographyeven when it does not satisfy the narrow, legal definition of ‘obscene’ is not necessarily ‘speech’ as protected by the First Amendment.”
- Government is urged to pass laws to ensure that “ all ‘adult’ material (print and digital)” carry a “warning about the addictive potential of pornography and consequent possible psychological harm to the consumer.”
The statement also recommends that the “Department of Justice unit dedicated to the prosecution of obscenity needs to be redeveloped and redeployed to address the specific and multifaceted phenomenon of Internet pornography.”
The Social Costs of Pornography statement, including the research on which it is based, along with videos featuring presentations from some of the experts who participated in the December 2008 conference, are available at http://www.socialcostsofpornography.org/
Copyright © 2010. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.