Tag archives: Pornography

Snapchat and Instagram Are Turning into Kid Portals for Porn (and Much Worse)

by Family Research Council

July 12, 2019

American children are finding it increasingly difficult to escape the explicit snares of social media. That’s why earlier this week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “Protecting Innocence in a Digital World.” Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube have become a harbor for predators, sex trafficking, and pornography.

Families should remain especially conscious of the risks posed by these kinds of platforms in a time when content remains largely unregulated. App stores’ descriptions of social media platforms rarely match the actual maturity of the content. The repercussions of kids’ easy access to pornographic content are shocking and, in some cases, irreversible.

In the hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) succinctly acknowledged that “Child exploitation online is becoming an epidemic.” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was blunt about the reality of the situation: “Predators no longer lurk in chat rooms. Predators use the apps our kids use.”

Snapchat and Instagram, the two most used social media apps as of 2018, see 190 million and 500 million daily usersrespectively. The minimum age to download these applications is 12 years old, yet the content on these apps can be alarmingly inappropriate. While app descriptions may warn of “mild infrequent/mild sexual content and nudity, alcohol, drug use, profanity, and suggestive themes,” the content a child might see includes “sextortion, pornography, prostitution and sex trafficking, monetized accounts for sex acts, minimal parental controls, … news articles [also] frequently push: porn, risky sexual behaviors, sexting, drugs and alcohol.”

Even if parents know how to use an app like Instagram, the access to explicit content can be hidden in plain sight: “On Instagram, porn is often hidden behind hashtags and emojis that appear innocuous but are used as secret code to tag and search for particular types of porn.”Though Instagram claims to regulate pornographic material, the content remains readily available. As a result, not only can young people hide their searches with these hashtags, but almost half of them are exposed to explicit online content, and 66 percent of this exposure is unwanted.

The lack of identity verification and content regulation lead to evils even deeper than premature exposure to sexual subjects. Social media apps like Instagram are witnessing a rise in sex trafficking schemes. A recent study from the University of Toledo found that “traffickers connect to vulnerable youth online, groom the children to form quicker relationships, avoid detection, and move the connections from online to in-person.”The study shows that online predators groom children whose posts display “fear, emptiness and disappointment.” They emphasize that parents must protect their children by “monitoring or blocking questionable activity.”

One Michigan father actually saved his daughter from becoming a victim of human trafficking by simply paying close attention to his tween daughter’s social media habits. He recounts, “It began with a picture, a questionably inappropriate one for a girl her age, and the sexy pose set my red flag on fire. So my digging turned into a manhunt checking EVERYTHING in all her accounts.”Portage Police said that the father’s attention to his daughter’s online activity may well have saved the girl from abduction.

Parents must be equipped with the tools to fight the dangers of social media, but they must first recognize the problem. First, as Christians, we must take measures to encourage healthy attitudes towards sex among young people. Our biblical worldview informs us that sex and sexual behavior belong in a marriage between a man and a woman. This ideal is easily challenged and outright denied on social media—not only by groups on the Left, but also by the explicit content so readily available to young users. Secondly, we need to protect our kids from physical harm. Early exposure to explicit content opens the door to pornography addiction and physiologically affects neural learning. Furthermore, social media can easily take dark turns towards the unthinkable for a parent—losing a child to human trafficking.

This is why FRC has partnered with #fixappratings to overcome the challenges that social media can present to the family. We encourage you to join us and learn more about how you can help at fixappratings.com.

How to Talk to Kids about Pornography: 3 Painless Steps

by Kristen Jenson

July 11, 2019

Parents, what conversation is dreaded more than the first one about pornography? I’m not sure there is one! Teaching kids about where babies come from seems simple in comparison. The good news is that it’s not as difficult as you think. I’ve broken it down into three relatively painless steps: start early, empower kids with the basics, and keep on learning and talking!

1. Start Early

How early should you begin warning your child about pornography? The short answer is as soon as they have any access to the internet (or apps that lead to the internet). #SoonerIsSafer! No conscientious parent allows a child access to a busy street without teaching them about the dangers of oncoming cars. It just makes sense to give young kids a gentle warning about harmful content as soon as they are allowed to play on the byways of the internet.

Susan is a very protective mom, and very wise, too. She told me about the time when her 7-year-old son was exposed to pornography by a neighbor. A few days earlier, she had re-read Good Pictures Bad Pictures to her son and reminded him of what to do if he ever saw a bad picture. Although it was distressing, everything worked according to plan! He turned away and went home and told his mom what he had seen. Thankfully, he was prepared!

Children who are caught off guard by pornography are not safe. They are more vulnerable than children who have been warned and given a plan for responding to exposure.

When a parent begins early, it’s not awkward for the child. As the adult, you create the context. Parents continue to tell me that their kids take it well, and that broaching the topic creates an even stronger, more trusting bond with their child.

Don’t be scared—be prepared!

2. Empower Kids with Three Basics

Children need to know three things about pornography:

  • What it is—they need an appropriate definition of pornography.
  • Why it’s harmful—so many kids grow up without a clue that pornography can hurt their young minds—they need good information!
  • How to reject it—a simple plan so they know exactly what to do when they see pornography.

An age-appropriate definition of pornography for a young child gives them just enough information so they can recognize it. In my Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books, I use the following simple definition. “Pornography means pictures, videos or even cartoons of people with little or no clothes on…that focus on the private parts of the body we keep covered with a swimsuit.”

Some critics argue that pornography should not be equated with nudity or else it will cause “body shame.” I take great pains to assure kids that “every part of your body is good, including your private parts. But taking pictures of them and sharing them with others is not good.” Kids are very literal, and nuance is lost on them. Just teach them to come and tell you if they see nudity or near nudity and you can enlighten them if they need additional understanding. For simple tips on how to explain the difference between porn and art to a child, read this blog post.

Explain why it’s harmful. For young children, I use the “picture poison” analogy in my Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. book. You’ve already taught them about poison and harmful substances. Pictures can poison the mind, too. Again, reassurance is critical: “There’s something good you can do if you see a bad picture.”

Older children can learn how pornography can become a bad habit or even an addiction. Once kids understand the process of addiction, they have a real opportunity to protect their own brains. Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids describes how the “thinking brain” and the “feeling brain” can work together to stay safe from addiction. This article from my website ProtectYoungMinds.org contains a simplified explanation of how addictions develop.

3. Give Kids a Plan

It’s common wisdom to teach kids to respond to a fire or active shooter. They need the same “fire drill” for pornography. Thankfully, most children won’t deal with a fire or a shooter, but all of them will need to escape from pornography.

The “escape” plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. is simply “Turn, Run and Tell!” Turn away from the bad picture, hurry and get away, and go tell a trusted adult what you saw. The CAN DO Plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures helps kids not only turn away from it, but to label it by saying “That’s pornography!” This allows kids to have more control over their thoughts by engaging their thinking brain.

Make sure your kids know who they can talk to about pornography exposure wherever they are. Talk to their teachers at school and find out what their plan is for students reporting pornography exposure.  

Finally, help your kids to know how to minimize or “forget” any shocking images they are exposed to by learning to redirect their thoughts to something they get excited about. For example, if they love horses, have them think about saddling up and galloping away! And encourage them to keep practicing—it takes several times, but every time a bad image pops up, just keep thinking about something else. Pretty soon, that memory will begin to fade.

No Child Deserves to Face the Porn Industry Alone

Kids who interface with screens need to know what pornography is, why it’s harmful and what to do when they see it. And they also need constant mentoring. Some families use #TalkTechTuesdays to address all kinds of digital age issues. Whatever day you choose, make sure you keep talking with your kids and listening to their experiences.

I am grateful for caring adults who choose to confront pornography head on so kids won’t have to face it alone. And once you begin the conversation, it gets easier and more comfortable. You CAN DO it.

To get started, check out the free Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents on ProtectYoungMinds.org.

Kristen A. Jenson, MA is the founder of Protect Young Minds and best-selling author of the Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books. She serves on the Safeguard Alliance founded by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

It’s “National White Ribbon Against Pornography Week” (October 25-31)

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 26, 2015

FRC is glad to join with our friends at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) in reminding everyone that this is National White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Week.

As NCOSE notes, WRAP week “brings together hundreds of national, state and local groups, along with driven concerned citizens in a massive effort to educate the public on the harms from pornography and the many resources available to aid those affected.”

As FRC has argued in the past, “Pornography has spread like a plague in our nation. It has moved from the margins of our culture to the mainstream, attacking marriages, families, and communities. Worst of all, it has stolen a time of innocence from our children.”

Throughout the week, NCOSE is streaming a number of events on such topics “Teaching Kids Digital Literacy: Tips for addressing pornography & other online dangers” and “Hate + Sex + Technology + Apathy: A Discussion about Pornography, History, Culture and the End of Love.”  You can watch them, at no charge, by going to http://endsexualexploitation.org/wrap/

FRC also offers some great resources on how to fight pornography, including the following:

The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community (publication from FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute)

The Link Between Pornography, Sex Trafficking, and Abortion (video of a presentation by the Director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity, Arina Grossu)

Pornography and the Brain: Public Health Considerations (video of a presentation by neurologist Dr. Donald Hilton)

And go to “Pink Elephant Resources,” which provides resources to those wrestling with pornography addiction and mentorship guidance for those wanting to help pornography addicts.

The battle against pornography can be won, in both individual lives and in our culture.  For those not engaged in the fight, WRAP Week is a good time to start.

Taxpayers Shouldn’t Pay for Pornography

by Family Research Council

March 26, 2015

H.R. 5628, the Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act, would prohibit government employees from accessing pornography on the job.  This Act passed out of committee this week and might seem unnecessary. 

Wouldn’t that kind of activity get you fired?  Not in the world of the Federal Government.  An EPA employee who watched as much as six hours a day of explicit content was still on the government payroll a year after being caught.  It is sad that our government has become so bloated that it can’t hold employees responsible for dereliction of their duties. 

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) sponsored the bill to fix this problem.  Taxpayers shouldn’t be on the dime for something so harmful to society.  Let’s hope Rep. Meadows’ bill reaches the President’s desk.  For more information on the effects of pornography, please see the work done by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.  

News Flash: Pornography Hurts Marriage

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 22, 2014

Our friends at the Porn Harms Coalition (of which FRC is a member) have drawn attention to a study that quantifies what every common-sensical person in the world knows intuitively: Viewing pornography discourages and damages marriage. The German Institute for the Study of Labor (apparently the Germans understand that marriage affects labor productivity, as FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute has argued for years) hired researchers at Pennsylvania’s West Chester University and Britain’s Timberlake Consultants to study whether “increasing ease of accessing pornography is an important factor underlying the decline in marriage formation and stability.”

Well, the German-sponsored study found it did: “Substitutes for marital sexual gratification may impact the decision to marry. Proliferation of the Internet has made pornography an increasingly low-cost substitute … We show that increased Internet usage is negatively associated with marriage formation. Pornography consumption specifically has an even stronger effect.”

Pornography as a “low-cost substitute” for marriage? So, are women merely sexual tools for readily-aroused young men? What a comment on how many young men in our time view women! Yet advocates of complete sexual autonomy (over-the-counter contraception for all, for example) refuse to acknowledge this corrosive fact.

We welcome this contribution to the scholarly literature showing that pornography adversely affects getting and staying married. To simplify things, though, ask any pastor, priest or rabbi who’s ever counseled a woman with a boyfriend or husband addicted to pornography. That conversation will prove more unforgettable than even the most riveting study ever can.

For those struggling with addiction to pornography or who want to help those who are, Porn Harms offers great resources. And, remember, Jesus Christ is the greatest resource of all.

Resources to Help You Fight Pornography

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 6, 2014

Pornography is one of the great scourges of our time, and is hurting people in the pews of churches in every denomination. Its dangers are well documented, and one need not look beyond the doors of his own church to see the brokenness pornography leaves in its wake. As analyst Paul Coughlin wrote in 2009, “An anonymous survey conducted recently by Pastors.com reported that 54% of pastors admitted viewing porn within the last year. In an online newsletter, 34% of female readers of Today’s Christian Woman admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn.”

This plague is affecting America’s youth, dramatically. According to “Enough is Enough (EIE),” a nationwide coalition designed to make the internet safer for children and families, “90 percent of 8 to 16 year old children have viewed pornography.”

Once pornography has taken root in one’s mind, it is hard to pull out. A few months ago, writing in The Public Discourse, analyst Morgan Bennett cited research showing that “new neurological research reveals that porn is as potently addictive as heroin or cocaine.”

Thankfully, there are movements and resources (including EIE) committed to helping men (and, sadly and increasingly, women) break free from its bonds. Family Research Council offers many resources regarding pornography, both with respect to one’s personal battle and public policy. Also, our Marriage and Religion Research Institute has done extensive research on the effects of pornography.

In addition, we are grateful for some other wonderful ministries and initiatives designed to stem the tide of pornography in our time. Here are a few of them (there are many others, national and state-focused):

One Million Men Porn Free: Pastor Jay Dennis of the First Baptist Church of Lakeland, Florida, launched this ministry to provide “extensive resources to educate leadership on how to forthrightly, but compassionately, address the issues of pornography. Using One Million Men Porn Free materials, leadership can facilitate a study program that will take men through the steps to freedom, and teach men how to help a Christian brother, or even their son.”

Morality in Media: Since 1962, MIM has been “the leading national organization opposing pornography and indecency through public education and the application of the law.” MIM also leads the “War on Illegal Pornography” coalition, of which FRC is a member, to “stop the growing amount of hard core pornography available in America.”

Proven Men Ministries, led by Liberty University School of Law professor Joel Hesch, last year launched “a Biblically based study program that fills a gap in available help to Christian men who want to overcome their pornography or sexual addiction and live out Proven lives. (PMM) is taking this provocative subject public via Facebook, Twitter, web videos and a targeted campaign to pastors nationwide.”

FRC’s longtime partner Focus on the Family has excellent resources for pastors, churches, families, and individuals scarred by pornography.

There are also many practical articles written by men and woman about how they have overcome their addictions to pornography thorough faith. For those struggling, read them and be encouraged: There’s hope. As one young man who has beaten his pornography addiction has written, “I’m so grateful for the work God has done in my life. I’m a new man. I actually pursue God, not run and hide from Him … and best of all I don’t see myself as a pathetic, cowardly pervert anymore. I see myself as … a man of God.”

Charity and Pornography: Can They Coexist?

by Sharon Barrett

October 26, 2012

Princeton professor Robert P. George writes in a piece for The Public Discourse, Theorists of public moralityfrom the ancient Greek philosophers and Roman jurists onhave noticed that apparently private acts of vice, when they multiply and become widespread, can imperil important public interests.

Pornography, especially internet pornography, is this kind of private vice in our generation. Even though pornographys devastating effects are well-documented (for instance, in publications released by MARRI and the Witherspoon Institute), some in the industry try to make pornography look acceptable by uniting it with socially respected activities. MARRI intern Sarah Robinson reported on Charitable Pornography: a non-profit pornography organization has created a website where users can upload videos along with links to their charity of choice, so that every hit on a video sends a donation to that charity.

While the organizers of the website win points for creativity, their score on social responsibility is zero. As Sarah Robinson says,

This idea crosses the threshold of moral relativity into dangerous territory that debases the value of human beings and sexuality. How do you place a price tag on sexuality? No charitable organization should receive money made by degrading human beings who were created in the image of God.

The idea of charitable giving depends on the ability to value others needs above ones own immediate gratification. Charitable organizations, inspired by Biblical commands to consider the poor, have long been a prominent part of Judeo-Christian society (and came into their own in 19th-century America, thanks to the energy of social reformers). Is charity at home, however, in a culture of sensuality that permits the degradation of human beings?

Robert P. George argues that acceptance of pornography affects society deeply, cheating children of not only a healthy sexuality, but a healthy view of the human person:

Parents efforts to bring up their children as respecters of themselves and others will be helped or hinderedperhaps profoundlyby the cultural structure in which children are reared….It is the attitudes, habits, dispositions, imagination, ideology, values, and choices shaped by a culture in which pornography flourishes that will, in the end, deprive many children of what can without logical or moral strain be characterized as their right to a healthy sexuality. In a society in which sex is depersonalized, and thus degraded, even conscientious parents will have enormous difficulty transmitting to their children the capacity to view themselves and others as persons, rather than as objects of sexual desire and satisfaction.

Pornography is the last thing we need as we seek to raise a generation with humane values. If the authors of this porn website truly care about charity, they should shut down the site and start producing informational videos. There are plenty of causes, like raising awareness of human sex trafficking, that they can benefit with charitable donations.

FRC Keeps Up the Fight Against Pornography

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 30, 2012

Last week, the New York Times ran a disturbing article on the growing phenomenon of the public viewing of pornography. The final sentence should stop each of us in our tracks: Dawn Hawkins of Morality in Media, who protested recently when a man watched graphic pornography on his laptop during a plane flight, reports, “People said, Just look away, she recalled. Their argument is that people can do what they want. This is America.

When liberty becomes license, the bets are off for a healthy country and functioning self-government. If we lack virtue, personal moral self-restraint and respect for other persons, then disorder and dysfunction follow as day follows night. These, if unchecked, lead inevitably to anarchy and danger, which result in a call for order at any cost. If the rise of Adolph Hitler subsequent to the decadent Weimar Republic has anything to teach us, this is one of its surest lessons.

Two years ago, Hoover Institution scholar Mary Eberstadt wrote a superb piece for First Things called, “The Weight of Smut.” In clear prose, she documented how pornography has profound and demonstrably harmful affects on marriage, families, and human well-being. It is a painful read because of what it tells us about the society in which we live and in which our children are being raised, but it nonetheless is an indispensable summary of the evils of what someone once called “sex without persons.”

Over the past two years, pornography has continued, termite-like, to erode the foundations of human dignity and family security. That’s why Family Research Council continues to partner with like-minded organizations to combat the growth of pornography online, on television, and other media. FRC offers a number of useful resources to assist your church or ministry, and you as an individual, fight electronic and visual filth. Included are these:

** “The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family, and Community,” by Dr. Pat Fagan

** A recent interview by FRC President Tony Perkins with Pat Trueman, the former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and now President of Morality in Media, on the proposal to expand domains for pornography websites.

** A Webcast shown last year titled, “Sex Trafficking in America: From the Boulevard to Planned Parenthood.”

Visit our website to see the full list of FRC resources and prayerfully consider how you might join in the effort to diminish pornography’s grip on our culture.

Hunger Games Are Real: Children Sacrificed to Porn Now a Legal Spectator Sport

by Cathy Ruse

May 10, 2012

The purposeful viewing of child pornography on the internet is now legal in New York, wrote Judge Victoria A. Graffeo from the highest state court in New York.

The ruling came down to a splitting of hairs over whether viewing is possessing. Read more here.

But no hair-splitting legal gymnastics will make something so fantastically wrong, right. This ruling cannot stand.

Child pornography is the visual record of an innocent child being abused. There are very sick people in this world who find viewing it sexually stimulating. They provide a demand for it, and the greedy brutes who make up the pornography industry are happy to sacrifice childrens lives to provide the supply.

Every time technology evolves, the porn industry argues that the laws which constrain its excesses surely dont apply here. Possessing hardcore pornographic videos cant be illegal, they argued why, video cassettes are nothing more than magnetic tape in black squares of plastic.

They lost that round, and they will lose here too.

Make no mistake: Viewing child pornography is no private or passive act. It is an integral part of the child-porn chain, every link of which must be made illegal.

There is no room for compromise. The law must reach the evil producers, the soulless distributors, and the heartless, perverted consumers —- whether they buy it and save it, or simply watch it or view it.

How Internet Porn Turned My Beautiful Boy into a Hollow, Self-Hating Shell

by Cathy Ruse

April 24, 2012

Yesterday in the UK, leading internet firms were accused of complicity in exposing children to hardcore pornography, following an independent inquiry by Members of Parliament that warned of a generation of teenagers addicted to porn.

Read this chilling account in the Daily Mail by a mother whose 11-year-old son changed beyond recognition when he began secretly watching porn at night on his laptop in bed.

The porn she discovered in her sons search history, freely given to him without a credit card, is absolutely prosecutable as obscenity under long-standing U.S. federal law.

Are 11-year old American boys accessing it, too? Does the Obama Justice Department care? Will the next U.S. president enforce the law or ignore it?

For more information on how pornography affects society, read “The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community,” by Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.

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