Just reading the headlines is enough to make you feel numb.
Scan the "news feed" at familyfragments.com, and you'll see what I mean:
"Man Admits He Had Child Pornography" … "Child Sex Tourism Raises Its Head in India" … "Two Men Sentenced for Running International Pornography Business" … "Judge Sentences Porn Spammers to 5+ Years" … "Mom Awarded $85,000 for Daughters' Exposure to Motel Porn" … "Police Arrest Man Accused of Raping Little Girl on Videotape."
That's only a fraction of them, I'm afraid.
The subject matter of these articles alone -- even without the grotesque details -- is enough to churn your stomach and make you want to turn away in disgust.
But we can't turn our backs on the fact that pornography -- photographic records of the abhorrent deeds described above -- is a monumental, pervasive problem in our modern, over-sexualized culture. We must fight back against the purveyors of smut -- and help the casual consumer understand that consumption of this vile material harms individuals and society as a whole. It's a task that motivates many good pro-family groups -- groups that fight against a multi-billion-dollar industry that has successfully seduced a nation into buying and selling human flesh.
One wonderful group is the Lighted Candle Society, which runs familyfragments.com. Lighted Candle doesn't simply collect news links. Its mission is to fight the producers and distributors of pornography and to finance scientific research into the addictive nature of porn. The group relies on the ground-breaking research of Dr. Judith Reisman, author of "Kinsey, Sex and Fraud." And its trustees include a colleague of mine whose name you may recognize: Edwin Meese III.
It's been 21 years since General Meese spearheaded the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography and released a landmark report on the harms of pornography. Anyone who thinks that porn is, generally speaking, nothing more than harmless fun should read through the "Victimization" chapter of the Meese Report. It's absolutely chilling. The trail of broken homes and broken hearts that the porn industry has left in its wake is astounding. (More recent stories appear on another Lighted Candle site, herstorylives.com.)
Dr. Reisman's research "reveals that frequent use of pornography creates addiction and … damage in the structure and the function of the brain," notes John Harmer, chairman of the Lighted Candle Society, who dedicates his book "The Sex Industrial Complex" to Reisman. "Through the use of fMRI's (functional magnetic resonance imaging), we can now watch the human brain react to the stimuli of violence and pornography."
The under-developed brains of our children are most at risk -- and they are, not coincidentally, right in the crosshairs of the smut peddlers. As shown by the numerous statistics listed on the outstanding Web site of "Enough is Enough" -- a group I had the privilege to help launch in 1994 -- teenagers are a key target of the porn industry.
Purveyors of porn and perversion know exactly how to prey on the raging hormones of our sons and daughters and lure them into a seedy, dark world. They are experts at manipulating young minds for money. If they can reel them in at a young age, they can cultivate customers for life.
The marketing effort to condemn our children to a life based on sexual fixation is so pervasive that I devote an entire chapter to the topic in my book, Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad. You must understand that the pornographers are after your children 24/7. Pornography is a $12 billion-a-year industry -- their goal is turn your kids into porn addicts. Period.
Most teenagers who are exposed to pornography don't wind up on a police blotter, but they do suffer immense harm. Jill Manning, a former visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, charted the cost in a paper she presented to a special U.S. Senate subcommittee. Her review of the peer-reviewed research reveals that children who consume pornography tend to:
- Develop tolerance toward sexually explicit material, thereby requiring more novel or bizarre material to achieve the same level of arousal or interest.
- Overestimate the prevalence of less common sexual practices (e.g., group sex, bestiality and sadomasochistic activity).
- Abandon the goal of sexual exclusivity with a partner.
- Perceive promiscuity as a normal state of interaction.
- Develop cynical attitudes about love.
- Believe that raising children and having a family is an unattractive prospect.
- Develop a negative body image, especially for women.
If you're a parent, the best thing to do (besides, of course, avoiding pornography yourself) is protect your children and make sure they aren't targeted by some pervert. These days, that task usually starts with the Internet -- how it's accessed in your home, when and by whom. Your child doesn't have to be a victim -- be pro-active and keep your home smut-free. "Enough is Enough" has some very useful information, as does Web Wise Kids. Their interactive programs make kids aware of the dangers that lurk on the Web so they can "make wise online choices."
Mom and Dad, you are responsible for protecting your children from those who would use and abuse them to make a buck. Who's going to win? You … or the pornographers?
Rebecca Hagelin, a vice president at The Heritage Foundation, is the author of "Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad" and runs the Web site HomeInvasion.org.