Experts Testify at U.S. Capitol Symposium: Pornography is a Public Health Crisis!

by Jul 30, 2015Addiction/Brain Science, Tech Solutions

by Kristen A. Jenson, MA

Public Health CrisisHere’s our fifth and final post in our Summer Film Festival series to help parents and kids live porn-free! This one isn’t for kids, but it’s a must see for parents who want to be informed and help their kids navigate childhood in our digital age.

If you missed the first four, check them out!

  1. Get Empowered with Our Summer Film Festival
  2. This Is Your Brain on Porn: 4 Videos to Help Kids Reject Addiction
  3. 3 Videos to Help Parent Boys in a Pornified World
  4. Practical Tips for Porn-Immune Kids: 4 Videos to Help Parents

Pornography used to be seen as a purely moral or religious issue. And for many, it still is. But it’s also a serious public health crisis, and that message is gaining traction.

And who is bringing that message to decision-makers in our government? The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE). They are doing amazing work in Washington, D.C. and all over the U.S. making people aware of the damage pornography is doing to individuals, families and our society as a whole.

Dawn-Hawkins-211x211In June, Dawn Hawkins, Vice Pres. of NCSE, hosted a U.S. Capitol Hill Symposium entitled Pornography: A Public Health Crisis. Bringing together experts from all over the U.S., the NCSE wants our leaders to know that “science and research now show a wide range of harm caused by pornography, including direct links to increased demand for sex trafficking, child sexual exploitation and violence against women. Pornography affects the developing brains and shapes the sexual templates of children.”

This video includes short (five to 10 minute) segments from eight experts. I know your time is valuable, so I wrote a synopsis of each speaker and a corresponding time signature (see below). You can listen to all of them or skip to the ones you want to watch. (Warning: The first presentation includes disturbing and graphic descriptions of porn website ad copy–material which is easily accessible to any curious child. However, there are no graphic images in this video.)

[vimeo 137341626 w=500 h=281]

Pornography: A Public Health Crisis | US Capitol Hill Symposium hosted by NCSE from Center On Sexual Exploitation on Vimeo.

Gail_Dines(00:10) Gail Dines, PhD, Sociologist and founder of Culture Reframed, a non-profit working to unmask the porn industry and the harm they are doing to our kids. She is a powerful advocate for young people. Warning: Dr. Dines does not mince words. She quotes ad copy from porn sites, and it is graphic and disturbing (and contains swear words). But in my opinion, because our kids can easily access this garbage 24/7, we owe it to them as their parents to get an inkling of what’s out there. I wish you didn’t need to know this. But I’m convinced that once you know, you’ll be even more motivated to prepare your kids to reject it.

CA-headshot-1-15-211x211(10:40) Cordelia Anderson, MA, Founder, Sensibilities Prevention Services. Cordelia explains why pornography has become a public health crisis. Overcoming pornography will take broad-based social change because the problem has grown beyond the capability of the individual to solve it (because it’s everywhere and unavoidable!). She gives hopeful examples of previous social norms which have been changed: seat belts, tobacco, clean drinking water. We CAN DO this!

Donald_Hilton-211x211(20:04) Donald Hilton, MD, Neurosurgeon. “Pornography is a biologically addictive medium which alters brain reward and motivation systems in a negative way…Addiction causes physical changes in the brain.” It’s so important that we can prove scientifically (just like we did with smoking tobacco) that pornography is harmful. Dr. Hilton gives a brief but powerful review of the current research (which is fascinating!). For added doses of the neuroscience of porn addiction, read this or watch this.

cooper-300x300(26:47) Dr. Sharon Cooper, MD, FAAP, CEO of Development & Forensic Pediatrics.  Dr. Cooper describes the many ways that adult pornography is harmful to children. Many kids are groomed by adult pornography to make child pornography, and kids learn to abuse other children when they view adult pornography. Children are traumatized by violent images and this can lead to a wide range of social and academic and medical dysfunction. A gentle but forthright advocate for children!

(Farley35:50) Melissa Farley, Ph.D. Executive Director of Prostitution Research & Education. Porn, prostitution and sex trafficking are all linked. Pornography is an act of prostitution that is legalized as long “as you get to take pictures.” It all comes down to money which drives sexual exploitation into a business enterprise–one which is constantly expanding as technology, the law and public opinion allow. All types of sexual exploitation result in severe emotional distress. The commercialized sex industry wants to disconnect or de-link pornography, prostitution and trafficking in order to normalize their industry and increase profits. Excellent info that you should know!

Layden-150x150(46:05) Mary Anne Layden, Ph.D., Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program. Kids watch porn and learn to imitate what they see. Porn is giving kids all the wrong messages about sex. This is really interesting information about how internet pornography is spreading “permission giving beliefs” which is normalizing pornography for our kids. To conclude, Dr. Layden quickly summarizes about 50 findings from research that show the attitude and behavioral changes that result from using porn. What an eye-opener!

Ed-211x211(55:42) Ed Smart, Vice President, Elizabeth Smart Foundation and Operation Underground Railroad. Ed shares details of his daughter’s abduction and how her captor and rapist, Brian David Mitchell, was exposed to pornography by his dad as a young boy and loved it. Pornography initiated his predatory life of sexual exploitation and rape. In fact, the main reason children are abducted is for sexual exploitation. But the nightmare for these survivors is when they are videotaped being raped and tortured for commercial pornography. Pornography provides the slippery slope that leads to abuse. Ed Smart is an amazing warrior and his work is inspiring!

Pic_Ernie-Allen-211x211(1:06:00) Ernie Allen, Esq., Former President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. What policies can be implemented to protect children? Latest research shows that fully a third of 10 years old’s are accessing violent, dehumanizing and degrading internet pornography. There are 42 MILLION unique visitors per day to major free pornography sites. Mobile devices only make this more dangerous for kids because it’s so accessible. Ends on a hopeful note by describing what is happening with default filtering in the UK. Excellent info for parents!

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) hosted an influential symposium right in the U.S. Capitol building July 14, 2015, presenting compelling research and arguments about the public health crisis from pornography. The room was packed to the maximum capacity with representatives from Congress and other influential government leaders, along with members of the press, leaders in the movement, and the general public. The room was overflowing to the point that we regretfully had to turn some people away, which proves that we are at a turning point on this issue. Nearly everyone has been affected and many are looking for leadership on how to turn the tide.

More details on the event and these issues can be found at

Please share this information with your friends and family–every parent needs to know the damaging effects of pornography!

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.

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