Still from the CBSN Originals documentary "Speaking Frankly: Porn" produced by CBS News
November 15, 2019

CBS News Admits Porn is Hijacking the Sexuality of America’s Children

In a significant development for the movement to end sexual exploitation, including the public health crisis of pornography, a CBSN Originals documentary from CBS News called “Speaking Frankly: Porn” is exposing the massive and disquieting impact pornography is having on children and teens across the United States.

Although the findings of the documentary are not particularly new—15 states have already acknowledged the data uncovered by existing research and officially declared pornography to be a public health crisis—this look at the harmful impacts of pornography on users is unique in a cultural environment where in-depth coverage from many mainstream media outlets has been sparse. As such, the willingness of CBS News to bring these harms to light to the public as a mainstream media platform is a positive development.

As the documentary reviewed research about the impacts of porn and spoke to teenagers who have used pornography, what they found was pervasive and sadly unsurprising: a majority of children and teens today are being exposed to pornography at early ages (the average age of exposure to porn is pre-pubescent) and it is directly shaping the ways they view sex, themselves, and how they engage with their peers sexually.

“Ryan, a senior in high school, recalls his early sexual encounters as attempts to replicate an idea of sex he says was shaped by pornography. ‘Me getting on top of her, and holding her down, and doing all this stuff that I had seen and was just trying to implement and just trying to replicate … as a man who had only experienced porn, that’s what I perceived to be the only way that you could do it.'” [Justin Sherman, CBS News]

More troubling still, CBS News’ interviews with individuals within the porn industry underscored how the harmful effects of pornography on children and teens such as Ryan are currently poised to grow in both reach and depravity

“All the evidence indicates pornography and its impact on young people isn’t going to go away any time soon. Pornhub.com is the seventh most popular website in the world, garnering more traffic than Netflix or Instagram. According to the site, 4.79 million new videos were posted in 2018 alone.

Veteran porn film director Mike Quasar says this influx in content has created a scenario where producers need to be more creative than ever in order to stand out. ‘It’s not even about porn anymore, it’s about marketing,’ Quasar says. ‘The porn is kind of secondary because since porn has been free, it’s been increasingly difficult to get people to pay for it. So now you’re just trying to come up with the most outlandish ideas to get anybody to click through to anything to possibly pay for something.'” [Justin Sherman, CBS News]

As disheartening as that may seem, there is some good news: the porn industry is increasingly facing pressure and is beginning to lose its power in key areas.

So there is still hope for the children of America who are at risk of having their sexuality hijacked by porn. Not only is there hope, but it is a hope that is growing stronger and a hope that we can each play a part in making into reality.

How will you help?

If you or someone you know is navigating the issue of pornography or pornography addiction with a child, we are aware of a variety of resources that will be helpful to that end and we encourage you to check them out.

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National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography.

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