It is difficult to quantify just how pervasive the porn industry is in fueling and underpinning the Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Minors. Pornography is often considered a “victimless” sin; and yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Pornography is highly addictive, progressively perverted, and completely objectifies human beings (primarily women and youth) as being nothing more than objects to be used for another’s pleasure.
In the same way that a 30-second commercial can influence whether or not we choose one retail item over another, exposure to pornography shapes our attitudes, values (and often) our behavior. Numerous studies have demonstrated that exposure to significant amounts of increasingly graphic forms of pornography has a dramatic effect on how adult and child consumers view men, women, teens, children, sexual behavior, sexual relationships, and sex in general. When experimental subjects were exposed to as little as six weeks’ worth of non-violent pornography, they:
- Began to trivialize rape as a criminal offense, or no longer considered it a crime at all.
- Developed distorted perceptions about sexuality.
- Developed an appetite for more deviant, bizarre or violent types of pornography. (Normal sex no longer seemed to satisfy.)
- Devalued the importance of monogamy and lacked confidence in marriage as either a viable or lasting institution.
- Viewed non-monogamous relationships as normal and natural.
(Source: The Drug of the New Millennium, Mark B. Kastleman)
It’s Getting More Extreme
The pornography that is distributed on the Internet today is increasingly extreme and is most correctly identified as “hard-core.” Some examples of this type of pornography include, but are not limited to:
- Sadism: depicting pain as being pleasurable;
- Body-piercing, torture and mutilation ;
- Rape: emphasizes the “rape myth;”
- Incest: depicting females or males reportedly initiating and enjoying sexual abuse inflicted by family members;
- Snuff films: low-budget films in which the actor is sexually abused and then murdered on camera;
- Orgies/group sex;
- Necrophilia: sex with a corpse;
- Bestiality: sex with animals;
- Ritualistic sexual abuse;
- Crossover videos: depicts serial progression from heterosexual acts to bisexual acts to homosexual acts, the latest fad in the pornography market
(Adapted from Enough IS Enough, Take Action Manual, 3rd edition, Enough Is Enough, 1995 – 1996, all rights reserved, p.20)
Porn Is Highly Addictive
- Images viewed for only a few seconds can produce a structural change in the brain and body that may last a lifetime.
- Through the law of strength, pornographic images gain immediate entrance into the brain and body and can be allotted enormous amounts of storage space.
- Pornographic images are stored in the cells of the brain and body as cellular-memories. These images then become “tangible” memories, literally changing the viewer on the “inside.”
- The brain and body immediately seek to link the stored pornographic images with other cellular-memories. These links are determined by the meaning that the pornography has to the viewer. Meaning is everything in the human brain and body.
- Because of the powerful meaning and response pornography can evoke in the brain and body, it is often linked to a vast array of other cellular-memories. This vast network of links wields a tremendous impact on the physical and chemical makeup, attitudes and behavior of the pornography viewer.
- Because of this dramatic change in the structure of the brain and body, severe addiction can result and the pornography addict can become a significant burden and risk to family, friends and society as a whole.
Viewing Internet porn and/or engaging in cybersex chat, coupled with masturbation, cause the brain and body to release drugs back into its own nervous system. Based on its ability to produce self-medication, mask pain, escape reality and provide the means to achieve orgasm, Internet pornography has been placed in direct competition with illicit drugs! Internet pornography is considered preferable to traditional drugs in many ways. It can more easily be hidden from view. Achieving a high through Internet porn or cybersex won’t cause you to stagger around, slur your words or pass out. What other drug can you sample for free as long as you like? (There are enough “free” and “sampler” porn sites and thousands of cybersex chat rooms available through standard Internet services to keep an addict occupied for years.) And if the free or sample drugs aren’t strong enough, what other drug could you purchase in large enough quantities, not to mention a constantly changing variety, to satisfy your changing mood, craving or preference, all for just the cost of your Internet connection? It’s easy to see why addicts of Internet porn eventually will outnumber cocaine, crack or meth addicts! Consider how the Internet porn/cybersex “drug” eclipses and outperforms common street drugs:
- The drug is free or relatively cheap.
- It can be used as often as desired.
- Regular users of the drug don’t manifest embarrassing outward physical signs.
- The drug, with rare exceptions (i.e. child pornography), is completely legal.
- No prescription is required.
- The drug producers (Internet pornographers) are shrouded in anonymity.
- Producers are able to pump the drug right into a home or office.
- The drug supply is endless and instantly available at the push of a button, 24 hours/day.
- Unlike other drugs, porn leaves behind no trace of physical evidence (no smell, no residue, no paraphernalia). Any physical hint of its use vanishes when the computer is turned off.
- The addict has access to a constantly changing variety of drugs. With thousands of choices, he/she can switch to a new, different or harder drug with the click of a mouse.
(Excerpted from The Drug of the New Millennium, Mark B. Kastleman, p.9)
Your brain needs endorphins and encephalins, (naturally occurring opiates produced in the brain). These opiates make you feel good. There are manufactured substances that mimic these naturally occurring chemicals (drugs, alcohol etc.) but there are many healthy, natural ways a person can get these brain-chemicals. When a person gets these ‘feel-good’ chemicals, they want more—these chemicals can become as addictive as alcohol or other drugs. Sexual feelings and desires are a natural part of each person. The pathway of sexual arousal and release is one of the most powerful pathways with little need of reinforcement. Because it is so powerful, it also needs the most protection so that it can occur in the situation that is the healthiest for those involved. When a person views pornography (sexually explicit material for the purpose of arousal) all those feel-good brain chemicals are running all over the brain. When the individual becomes aroused, and feels a need to experience sexual release (usually by masturbating or having sex.) When pornography is combined with sexual release, as in masturbation, and the naturally occurring drugs are set free all over the brain, this is a high reward for the brain. Because it is not a chemical imitation, it’s even more addictive.
(Source: Brain Pathways, Douglas Weiss, Ph. D.)
New Study Reveals 14% of Teens Have Had Face-to-Face Meetings with People they’ve Met on the Internet.
New research by Cox Communications in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) reveals teens are engaging in risky behavior online but that parents and guardians can have an impact on that behavior. One-third of teens surveyed say they are considering meeting face-to-face with someone they’ve met from the Internet and 14% say they’ve already had such an encounter. While many teens are sharing personal information online and putting themselves in potentially harmful situations, the survey results show that when parents and guardians talk to their teens about Internet safety, their exposure to potential threats declines and they make safer online decisions.
Key Findings: Teen Internet use and attitudes about safety present potential risks, but they also reveal opportunities for education and highlight a critical role for watchful parents and guardians.
Teens have established a significant presence on social networking web sites:
- 61% of 13- to 17-year-olds have a personal profile on sites such as MySpace, Friendster, or Xanga. Half have posted pictures of themselves online.
- Older teens (16- to 17-year-olds) and girls represent the majority of youths who use the Internet for social interaction, meeting friends, and networking. However, many have also been exposed to the accompanying potential risks.
- 14% have actually met face-to-face with a person they had known only through the Internet (9% of 13- to 15-year-olds and 22% of 16- to 17-year-olds).
- 30% have considered meeting someone they’ve only communicated with online.
- 71% reported receiving messages online from someone they don’t know.
- 45% have been asked for personal information by someone they don’t know.
- When teens receive messages online from someone they don’t know, 40% usually reply to and chat with that person.
- Only 18% said they tell a parent or guardian that they received a message from someone they don’t know. Many teens consider their online behavior to be safe.
- One out of five teens reported that it is safe (i.e. “somewhat” or “very safe”) to share personal information on a public blog or networking site.
- As well, 37% of 13- to 17-year-olds said they’re “not very concerned” or “not at all concerned” about someone using personal information they’ve posted online in ways they haven’t approved.
Parents and guardians can impact their teen’s online experience through communication:
- 33% of 13- to 17-year-olds reported that their parents or guardians know “very little” or “nothing” about what they do on the Internet.
- 48% of 16- to 17-year-olds said their parents or guardians know “very little” or “nothing” about their online activities.
- 22% of those surveyed reported their parents or guardians have never discussed Internet safety with them.
- On the other hand, 36% of youth (girls and younger teens, most notably) said their parents or guardians have talked to them “a lot” about online safety, and 70% said their parents or guardians have discussed the subject with them during the past year.
- Fewer teens whose parents and guardians have talked to them “a lot” about online safety have an instant messaging (IM) name or pictures of themselves on the Internet, compared to kids whose parents or guardians haven’t talked to them at all. More teens who’ve talked to parents or guardians ignore messages from unfamiliar people, refuse to reply or chat, block unknown senders, and report these occurrences to trusted adults.
The national teen Internet survey was funded by Cox Communications in partnership with NCMEC and was conducted among 1,160 teens age 13 to 17 during March 2006.
How to Stay Safe On The Internet
- Never give out personal information (such as name, age, address, phone number, school, town, password, schedule) about yourself or anyone else. With your phone number, anyone can easily get your address and a map to your house.
- Never agree to meet in person with anyone you have spoken to online.
- Some “kids” you meet in chat rooms may not really be kids; they may be adults with bad intentions. Remember, people may not be who they say they are.
- Never tell anyone online where you will be or what you will be doing.
- Never respond to or send e-mail to new people you meet online. Remember it is okay to not answer every email or instant message.
- Never send a picture over the Internet or via regular mail to anyone you’ve met on the Internet.
- Never buy or order products online or give out any credit card information online.
- Never respond to any belligerent or suggestive contact or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. End such an experience by logging off and telling your parents as soon as possible.
- Always tell someone you know about anything you saw, intentionally or unintentionally, that is upsetting.
- Use gender-neutral screen names.
If you’re struggling with porn:
- Avoid compromising situations.
- Be accountable to someone. Have someone you trust hold you to your commitment. Arrange to have them ask tough questions about what’s going on in your life and what you’ve been doing. You don’t have to make an announcement and tell everyone.
- Monitor your viewing. How much time are you spending on the computer? What behaviors are associated with your porn viewing? Drugs? Boredom? Stress? Loneliness? Certain friends? Habits you may need to break? What are you watching?
- There are web sites and Internet accountability tools. Some of these tools have faith language on them, but in reality, any two people can help keep each other accountable. (For example: X3 watch; Net Accountability; Covenant Eyes; Bsafeonline; Cybersitter.)
- Remember everyone is targeted. Protect yourself before it becomes an issue.
It happens, even to the best of kids from the most [conservative] homes. Kids get caught up in porn. It happened in my day with hidden Playboy magazines, and it happens today with the Internet. But how are you to know that one of your children has slipped into a forbidden world, blacker than black, more evil than evil? Here are a few signs there may be a problem:
- If your child spends a lot of time in chat rooms. Remember, the summer months and school vacations (such as Christmas, spring break, and so forth) are times of higher risk.
- If you find porn on your computer. Online sexual predators use photos—especially those with sexual images of adults and children—to show kids that sex is normal behavior and to heighten their sexual curiosity. When checking for porn on you computer, don’t forget to check CDs and diskettes.
- If your child begins receiving phone calls from adults—especially men—whom you don’t know. This is another good reason not to give your young children cell phones and private lines.
- If you phone records show that your child is making calls, especially long-distance calls, to numbers you don’t recognize. Remember, if your child has at least been savvy or obedient enough not to give out your phone number, there’s nothing stopping the predator from giving out his: “You can’t give out your phone number? I understand. That’s safety. Good for you. How about if I give you mine? That way, we can talk, and you won’t get in trouble.”
- If your child begins receiving anonymous gifts through the mail. A predator will spend any amount of money to get to his prey. Many have sent jewelry, CDs, DVDs and even plane tickets.
- If, when you enter the room, your child turns off the computer monitor or x’s out the page being visited. Also, if you see your child communication in chat rooms or via IMs in a “hidden language” (POS=Parents Over Shoulder; x=Shhh; PA=Parent Alert). When this happens, quickly ask what it means. Better yet, learn the language.
- If your child becomes withdrawn, preferring the cyber world to the real world. Such behavior may be an indication that your child has a problem with internet porn.
(Excerpted from Sex, Lies and the Media: What Your Kids Know and Aren’t Telling You, Eva Marie Everson & Jessica Everson)
While online computer exploration opens a world of possibilities for young people, expanding their horizons and exposing them to different cultures and ways of life, they can be exposed to dangers as they explore the information highway. There are individuals who attempt to sexually exploit children through the use of online services and the Internet. The following is a list of helpful tips to protect your family:
- Develop a trusting relationship with your child early
- Keep the door of communication open
- If you have reason to suspect your child is viewing inappropriate sites, do not overact – approach your son or daughter with respect
- Add to online profiles that you monitor your child’s use of the Internet
- Keep your computers in heavy traffic areas in your home
- Know your children’s online friends
- Use a pre-filtered Internet Service Provider (ISP) – check www.FilterReview.com for help
- Check CDs, floppy and zip disks
- Check History Files often
- Spend time with your child as they surf the Internet
- Ask your child to show you what IM (instant messaging) looks like
- Spend time with your child online, and have them teach you about their favorite online destinations
- Get to know and use the “Parental Controls” provided by your Internet Service Provider and/or blocking software
- Always maintain access to your child’s online account, and randomly check his or her account
- Teach your child about responsible use of the resources on the Internet
- Find out what safeguards are used at your child’s school, the public library and at the homes of your child’s friends. These are all places, outside your supervision, where a child could encounter an on-line predator
- Instruct your child NEVER to arrange face-to-face meetings with someone they met online and NOT to respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent or harassing
- Tell your child to NEVER give out identifying information such as name, address, school name or telephone number to people they don’t know
- Explain to your child to NEVER post pictures of them on the Internet and let them know this has seriously harmed other children
- Teach your child to come and get you when they access something on the Internet that makes them feel uncomfortable, no matter what it is
- Teach your child that the Internet is a good source for educational, recreational and creative searches, but has intentional landmines placed that could hurt them