“Does porn hurt children?” NYTimes reporter asks

 

Last week I saw this article on New York Times website: Does porn hurt children? by David Segal, a business reporter for the NYTimes. The answer is yes but causal links cannot be established and probably never will be. He outlines the difficulty in researching the answer to this question because of the ethics involved, never mind the illegality of showing porn to kids for the sake of research. Then he has some recommendations that are consistent, though not as comprehensive, with those from a recent article at VIRTUS, the National Catholic Risk Prevention Group: “Pornography consuming Our Children” by Luke Gilkerson. (In order to access this article you need to have taken the Virtus training offered by your diocese.)

One of the suggestions in the VIRTUS article is for parents to watch “Unfiltered: Equipping Parents for an Ongoing Conversation about Internet Pornography”  from Covenant Eyes.

Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, VA just released a pastoral letter on pornography on March 19, 2014 entitled “Bought with a Price: Every Man’s Duty to Protect Himself and His Family from a Pornographic Culture.” All commentaries agree that porn is pervasive and affects the child’s developing brain. Bishop Loverde states that it “deadens the heart to spiritual things.” The bishop seems to direct his letter to the men in the family but it is a fact that more and more women and girls are accessing pornography. It’s not just about the guys anymore.

In 1989, just before the onset of websites on the Internet, the Pontifical Council for Social Communication published “Pornography and Violence in the Communications Media: A Pastoral Response.” The document defines pornography and wisely examines the situation when pornography and violence are linked. The document also outlines things everyone can do to confront the pervasiveness of porn.

While I am not a fan of “Christian” movies that preach a message rather than tell a story, there is one that is important because it provides an opportunity for couples, parents, and parents and children, to talk about pornography and the devastation it causes without showing explicit images. The film is “Fireproof” starring Kirk Cameron. It is not a great movie and Cameron’s performance is the only thing that saves it from being a stilted canned sermon. What’s it is “about” is what’s important.

When was the last time you heard a homily or a talk at church about pornography?

Silence about pornography has consequences. Pornography dehumanizes its victims. Pornography leads to sex abuse. Pornography and human trafficking are linked.

Character education is also important because a person of character will choose and do the right thing especially when no one is looking. This is basic human formation that begins in the home when children are very young. Spiritual formation builds on human formation.

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