The debate on the effects of pornography has gone back-and-forth in American society. However, one group of college students who notes its addictive influence has formed an organization to provide greater resources to many who struggle with its influence.
Clay Olsen, one of the co-founders of Fight the New Drug (FTND), an anti-pornography and pro-free speech group, said he was motivated to start this organization because of the negative effects he saw in the life of those close to him.
[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Fight the New Drug” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]”I had a cousin who suffered from severe pornography addiction,” he said. “It started when he was eight years old.”
His cousin continued with this addiction and ended up in jail, losing everything. Once his cousin got out of jail he told him, “If I had known what pornography would have done, I would not have touched it.”
Olsen continued, “This experience created in me a motivation and almost an anger. This is something we are not addressing sufficiently. … The schools teach the danger of drugs … but if you ask the average kid about pornography, they think it is harmless and don’t understand its effects.”
This experience fueled Olsen along with the other founders, Beau Lewis, Ryan Werner and Cam Lee, to create a nonprofit organization to educate youth about the harmfulness of pornography internally and interpersonally. Their efforts include educating youth through face-to-face school assemblies, college chapter advocate groups and a website program called Fortify, which supports teens who do not have the money or courage to talk to adults about their addiction.
According to BYU associate professor of psychology Jeffrey Reber, pornography can become an uncontrollable addiction and negatively affect people’s perceptions of healthy relationships.
“Typically it tends to numb emotions, especially intimacy in marriage,” Reber said. “Addicts tend to be more insensitive…[their] emotions are more hot or cold and have flare-ups. The person, usually male, although not always, tends to lose attraction to his spouse. The biggest negative concern is that it sensitizes the person to things like ‘rape myth.’ People exposed to pornography are less likely to find a rapist guilty.”
Reber also said the addicition’s influence on the family is manifest in less patience and willingness to spend time with family members, insensitivity to children, and it could even interfere with the ability to provide for the family.
In a talk entitled “Pornography” in April 2005, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, “Pornographic or erotic stories and pictures are worse than filthy or polluted food. The body has defenses to rid itself of unwholesome food. With a few fatal exceptions, bad food will only make you sick but do no permanent harm. In contrast, a person who feasts upon filthy stories or pornographic or erotic pictures and literature records them in this marvelous retrieval system we call a brain. The brain won’t vomit back filth. Once recorded, it will always remain subject to recall, flashing its perverted images across your mind and drawing you away from the wholesome things in life.”
He continued by saying pornography impairs one’s ability to enjoy a normal emotional, romantic and spiritual relationship. Oaks said pornography also impairs decision-making capacities because of the addiction’s control over the body.
Co-founders of FTND said they receive numerous emails from youth who struggle with this addiction but are fearful to talk about a subject that is considered taboo by society. However, experts say being open about pornography and its influences empower people to overcome and avoid it.
“I think a big part of it, given that kids are exposed to pornography at a young age and not necessarily on their own efforts, is that it is important for parents to have a dialogue early and often,” Reber said. “Talk with kids about the presence of pornography in the media. They may even find it arousing but they need to know they can talk to parents and if needed religious leaders. It’s good to let them know they are not the only person with this problem. For me it’s not to make it something taboo. We need to have these conversations and tell kids [pornography] is out there and they will be exposed to it. They need to know their parents will love them and support them even if they become addicted.”