September 14, 2017

Dr. Sharon Cooper, MD Discusses How Pornography Harms Children

Anyone who suggests pornography is victimless is sorely mistaken, and this fallacious perspective is responsible for harming children across the country. Medical research demonstrating the harms of pornography is abundant and compelling. An excellent place to start is to listen to Sharon Cooper, MD. As a developmental and forensic pediatrician, Dr. Cooper has carefully studied the harmful impact adult pornography has on children’s development throughout her years of medical practice.

Dr. Cooper gave the keynote addresses titled “Pornography and the Colonization of Childhood” at the 2014 Summit for the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE), during which she expertly and persuasively demonstrated the clear and measurable impacts of pornography consumption on children’s brains, as well as the destructive behavioral patterns that ensue.

Children Are Especially Vulnerable to the Addictive Qualities of Pornography

First, regarding addiction, Dr. Cooper demonstrated that the addictive nature of pornography is similar to cocaine. Because children’s brains are still developmentally immature, they are especially vulnerable to the addictive qualities of pornography. Research shows that the brain secretes the hormones serotonin and dopamine, which as Dr. Cooper notes are “chemicals responding to the issue of addiction,” when an individual watches pornography. The brain secretes these same hormones when someone uses cocaine, heroin, or other highly addictive substances.

One of the ultimate tragic harms of childhood pornography addiction occurs when children sexually act out and abuse other children. Prior to this stage, there are a variety of other harms that may befall children who are exposed to pornography. For example, adults may use pornography to groom children for sexual abuse; adults may make sexually explicit materials of children to share with others; or adults may expose children to pornography to encourage them to self-produce. Tragically, some teens who view pornography, and become habituated in it, go on to offend vulnerable children or other teenagers.

Pornography’s Other Harms to Children

Other harms that can befall children due to pornography, whether they themselves are addicted or another individual who is addicted harms them, can include voyeurism associated with criminal actions, “sextortion,” where a bully elicits pornographic images from peers and then uses them as blackmail, and cyber harassment.

The child exploitation Dr. Cooper has witnessed through years of medical practice is devastating, but her testimony should give anyone who hears it a desire to combat the pornography public health crisis, as well as the facts to debate anyone who says pornography is harmless. Our children and society would be so much better off without the exploitive harms of pornography. Let’s continue to work toward a society where no child is under threat of becoming a victim of pornography’s horrific effects.

 

Katherine Blakeman

Katherine Blakeman

Director of Communications

Katherine Blakeman joined the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) as Director of Communications in August of 2017.  She works to foster a community of people who want to restore human dignity and end sexual exploitation through digital outreach and social media marketing.  Katherine also develops digital, communications, and press strategies for the organization in an effort to engage with an increasingly broader audience.

Prior to joining NCOSE, Katherine served as Communications Director for two members of Congress and previously as the Communications Deputy at Heritage Action for America, where she blogged, conducted social media outreach, and joined radio shows across the country to discuss the organization’s priorities and goals.

Katherine participated in the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute fellowship at the United Nations Youth Conference in July of 2011, which sparked in her a passion for human rights issues and for speaking out for those living in poverty or a cycle of exploitation, particularly those who suffer from sexual exploitation.

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