This screen grab was taken from, a website that has a 'battle plan' for overcoming addiction to pornography.


This screen grab was taken from, a website that has a 'battle plan' for overcoming addiction to pornography.

August 17, 2015

The Catholic Church's strong stance against pornography is based on Church teaching that the human body should be respected and every person has a God-given dignity.

But the fight against pornography is not unique to religious organizations.

"This is not a moral issue. We now have science to back this up," said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

The centre, an organization founded in 1962 whose mission is "to expose the seamless connection between all forms of exploitation," held a symposium at the U.S. Capitol in Washington exposing pornography as a public health crisis.

The symposium also examined how porn fuels sex trafficking, child exploitation and sexual violence.

The speakers all discussed research conducted on the negative impacts porn has upon society and how "pornography is one of the root causes of sexual exploitation," said Hawkins.

While none of the presenters cited the source of the statistics they presented, they all are considered experts in the field.

Pornography seems to be everywhere.

Gail Dines, a professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College in Boston, said 36 per cent of content on the Internet is pornographic. Online porn brings in revenue of $3,000 per second. On average, one out of every four Internet searches is about porn.

Cordelia Anderson, founder of Sensibilities Prevention Services, a training and consultation business, explained why she and Dines believe pornography is a public health crisis.

In the past 20 years, Anderson said, there has been a transition from soft porn and Playboy magazines, to graphic, violent Internet porn. As well, the age of those viewing porn has expanded to include younger and younger children.


She called the advent of online pornography "the largest, unregulated social experiment ever."

Dines said porn has taken the place of intimacy. "Porn is about making hate to women."

Dr. Donald Hilton, a neurosurgeon from the University of Texas, said, "Pornography is associated with shrinkage in the brain's key reward areas."

The more pronounced the pornography usage, the more shrinkage that occurs in these areas of the brain, he said. The brain is the source of behaviour, but is also modified by the behaviour it produces.

In discussing victims of violence, Mary Anne Layden, director of the sexual trauma and psychopathology program at the University of Pennsylvania, said 25 per cent of college women experience a rape or attempted rape.

Women who are exposed to porn as young girls are more likely to feel negatively about their bodies, have less support for women's equality and are more likely to think rapists deserve less time in prison, she said.

Also addressing the symposium was a father - Ed Smart, whose daughter Elizabeth was abducted and raped at age 14. She was held for nine months; the case made national headlines.

He spoke about his daughter's abductor, Brian David Mitchell, and how he had been first exposed to porn at a young age by his own father.

"Porn provides the slippery slope to abuse," he said.


While porn has a vast array of negative effects on society, there are solutions, but the "solutions are tough," said Ernie Allen, former president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. "I am a lawyer, and I believe in free speech, but this content is not protected under the first amendment."

Allen called upon Congress to pass legislation to curb the availability of graphic online pornography.