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Pornography's Corrosive Growth

2/5/2006 - 5:45 AM PST

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Children and Marriage at Risk in a Connected World

NEW YORK, FEB. 5, 2006 (Zenit) - Long-standing concerns over pornography's corrupting influence are being confirmed by recent studies. In past years restrictions on sexual content in the media were rejected by many secular observers. But the flood of Internet pornography is leading to second thoughts.

On Tuesday the New York Times reported about growing concern over the effects on children. The article reported on the findings published in last July's issue of the journal Pediatrics, in a study titled "Impact of the Media on Adolescent Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors."

The journal admitted little is known about the effects of the media on adolescent sexual behavior, mainly because of a lack of research on the subject. There is no doubt, however, that young people are immersed, often without parental supervision, in a media culture abundant in increasingly graphic sexual content.

Perhaps it is no coincidence, therefore, that each year nearly 900,000 teen-age girls in the United States become pregnant and that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases are higher among teen-agers than among adults.

The risks don't end there. "Data suggest that sexually active adolescents are at high risk for depression and suicide," the Pediatrics report states. "Early sexual experience among adolescents has also been associated with other potentially health-endangering behaviors, such as alcohol, marijuana and other drug use."

Regarding the Internet, the report noted that one national survey of 10- to 17-year-olds found that one in five had "inadvertently encountered explicit sexual content, and one in five had been exposed to an unwanted sexual solicitation while online."

Canadian concerns

The Pediatrics report confirmed worries raised in a study published in November 2004, in a study published by the Canadian Institute for Education on the Family. Author Peter Stock, in a document titled "The Harmful Effects on Children of Exposure to Pornography," cited evidence published by a hospital in the Australian city of Canberra.

The hospital's child-at-risk assessment unit documented a dramatic increase in the number of children engaged in "sexually abusive behavior." In the mid-1990s the unit saw two or three cases a year. By 2000, that had risen to 28, and by late 2003 the unit had more than 70 cases. The hospital's unit manager Annabel Wyndham commented, "We think this is a new thing of the modern world, because of access to the Net and -- to be truthful -- combined with some pretty terrible parenting."

Stock also noted that in March 2004 police uncovered cases of sexual assault perpetrated by children on other children in the Hamilton, Ontario, area. All of the victims were under the age of 12 and the oldest perpetrator was 13. In all the cases, the aggressors stated they were imitating behavior they had seen portrayed on pornographic cable television channels and on the Internet.

The report also cited a number of diverse studies and commentaries by experts in which it is shown that exposure to pornography, especially of an extreme or violent nature, tends to reinforce aggressive behavior and leads spectators to imitate what they have watched.

The research demonstrates that "there is a modest to strong correlation between exposure to pornography and deviant activity by individuals," Stock noted.

There is also concern that viewing pornography will distort the sexual development of children and adolescents. Pornography not only does not give an adequate vision of human sexuality, but it also dehumanizes women.

The report also noted that under Canadian law the production, distribution and possession of most pornography is no longer a criminal offense. Most of the law dealing with "obscenity" was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1992.

Since then the Canadian courts have continued to eliminate restrictions, with the most recent decision just before Christmas. In what the newspaper Globe and Mail on Dec. 22 called a "landmark ruling," the Supreme Court of Canada said two Montreal swingers clubs didn't break obscenity laws because the group sex that went on there caused no harm to the participants or to society as a whole.

The decision, according to the newspaper, "essentially legalizes group-sex clubs as long as participants are consenting adults." An editorial by the paper strongly criticized the decision: "The commercializing of sex in public places may offend community standards, and the courts should not be afraid to say so."

Swingers clubs

Janet Epp Buckingham, director of law and public policy at the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, in Ottawa, commented on the decision in an article published Dec. 27 by the Globe and Mail. She noted that ...

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