Our nation has a porn problem. This statement should not be controversial; it is just a fact. The United States is both a widespread producer and consumer of pornography.

Calling pornography a problem is an understatement. We have an epidemic.

According to Webroot Smarter Cybersecurity:

  • Every second, 28,258 users watch pornography on the internet.
  • Every second, $3,075.64 spent on online pornography.
  • Every second, 372 people type the word “adult” into a search engine.
  • Every day, Americans create 37 pornographic videos.
  • Every day, 2.5 billion emails containing porn are sent or received.
  • Every day, 25 percent of ALL internet searches (68 million) are pornography related. 
  • Every day, there are 116,000 internet searches related to child pornography.

They also note that:

  • About 200,000 Americans are classified as “porn addicts.”
  • Forty million American people regularly visit porn sites.
  • 35% of all internet downloads are related to pornography.
  • 34% of internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to pornographic content through ads, pop up ads, misdirected links, or emails.
  • This epidemic isn’t just a problem with men; one-third of porn viewers are women.
  • Thirty-five percent of all internet downloads are pornography related. 
  • Thirty-four percent of internet users are exposed to unwanted porn via ads, pop-ups, etc.

Worse yet, it’s impacting our children. 

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) reports that a large number of people report seeing porn at a young age:

  • According to a study among college students, 93 percent of boys saw online porn for the first time before the age of 18, compared to 63 percent of girls. 
  • Another sample among males shows that 49 percent saw porn for the first time before the age of 13. 
  • Another survey of young people ages 13-24 showed 64 percent actively sought out online pornography weekly. Also, teenage girls are significantly more likely to actively seek out porn than women 25 years old and above.

NCSE also found how pornography can negatively impact teenagers; they note a study of 14- to 19-year-olds found that females who consumed pornographic videos were at a significantly higher likelihood of being victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault. They also cite a recent survey in the United Kingdom that found that 44 percent of males aged 11–16 who consumed pornography reported that online pornography gave them ideas about the type of sex they wanted to try — considering the consumption rates of hardcore pornography have gone through the roof that should be a stat that concerns us all. 

Pornhub reported that the top search for the last six years was “teen porn.” Also, in 2013, Jon Millward conducted the most extensive personal research study on the Porn Industry in the U.S. He interviewed 10,000 porn performers about various aspects of the business. He found that the most common female role stated in porn titles is that of women in their 20’s portraying teenagers.

Pornography hurts families, destroys marriages, kills love, and breeds violence.

Unfortunately, no one, until recently, is talking about this problem. 

National Review reported that four Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday. U.S. Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, and Brian Babin of Texas asked that the U.S. Department of Justice enforce federal obscenity laws on the books to reduce hardcore pornography, especially pornography with children. 

The Supreme Court has ruled that obscenity is not protected speech under the First Amendment. 

The Court established the “Miller Test” that judges and juries use to determine whether what is considered obscene in three significant cases that came before the Court: Miller v. California (1973); Smith v. United States (1977), and Pope v. Illinois (1987). It has three prongs:

  1. Whether the average person, applying contemporary adult community standards, finds that the matter, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests;
  2. Whether the average person, applying contemporary adult community standards, finds that the matter depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and
  3. Whether a reasonable person finds that the matter, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

So if the material in question meets the criteria (hardcore pornography has met this criterion in the past), is it considered obscene. The U.S. Department of Justice under the Obama administration did not enforce obscenity laws. Opposition to this letter has been misleading as they are not calling for a ban on pornography. These representatives want the DOJ to apply existing obscenity laws to hardcore internet pornography – something that shouldn’t be controversial. It will likely require the establishment of national standards to enforce federal obscenity laws for the internet since they do not impact just one community, but all of them. 

There are other ways the federal government can address pornography. 

  • Offer tax incentives to encourage internet service providers to provide an opt-in and filtering at the ISP level. 
  • Require pornography sites to have age verification (requiring a credit card) on their website. Online gambling sites have to do age verification, why not pornography sites?
  • Open pornography websites up to lawsuits under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act if their users upload revenge porn or use someone’s likeness without permission. 

None of these things, obviously, replace what parents should do at home. Some tips:

  1. Talk to your kids about this in age-appropriate ways to explain why this is important, why God wants us to guard our hearts and minds, and how to avoid. Make sure they know they can talk to you about this. (We want our kids to be able to talk to us if they encounter pornography (a reminder 34 percent of people have received unwanted porn, that includes kids).
  2. Keep screen usage in a public area of your home.
  3. Use web filtering at the router level (it’s too easy for kids to circumvent software). 
  4. Boot your kids’ devices off your router at night (some give parents that kind of control).
  5. Keep smartphones out of the hands of your kids as long as possible. Know passwords. Do not allow them in your child’s bedroom. Install filtering options on phones. 

Churches must also be at the forefront of this fight. They can help equip and empower parents to help their children. They should provide support and accountability to help people break free of porn’s grasp.

Pornography is a public health epidemic. It’s time to act. Parents should take the lead in protecting their kids, and the federal government, through enforcing current laws and implementing limited regulation can help make that job more manageable.

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