August 9, 2013

Conference Warns of Porn Danger (Columbus Telegram)

Columbus Telegram: http://columbustelegram.com/news/local/conference-warns-of-porn-danger/article_cdb2a9b2-e711-5738-8226-efa6034b5b9f.html
By Julie Blum
8/9/2013

COLUMBUS — About 140 people heard about the dangers of what experts say is a growing problem among families and youth during a Columbus conference.

Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media, was the keynote speaker at the anti-pornography conference, “Exposing the Darkness: The Truth about Internet Pornography.”

“It’s not like Playboy was in the 1960s where it’s pictures of topless women. It’s a lot more deviant than that and harder in nature,” Hawkins said of pornography produced today.

Morality in Media is a faith-based organization that raises awareness about the harm of pornography and indecencies.

With the Internet, more people are seeing videos and images of porn, which is leading to addictions. Hawkins said families are being destroyed, with 56 percent of divorces in the nation citing Internet pornography as a reason for the split.

Because porn is accessed easier than before, children are watching. They can easily find it on the Internet. Hawkins said the average age a child is first exposed to porn is 11.

Hawkins said the porn industry is violent, degrading and exploits women, and it isn’t always consensual adults performing the act. Some are trafficked into the industry.

“One thing people don’t realize is that performers in pornography are often forced and coerced,” Hawkins said.

A panel of local individuals also spoke at the conference including Fr. Del Lape, pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church; pediatrician Dr. Kimberly Allen; police officer Jodi Hefti and Carmen Melliger, who teaches Theology of the Body for Teens.

The panel took questions from the audience, and one area of particular concern was child pornography.

Hefti said in the past, photo developers in town would alert the police to questionable photographs of children. But that doesn’t happen anymore because of technology. Those images are being kept out of the public eye and hidden on computers and phones.

“Technology has definitely made the pornographer’s world a lot easier,” Hefti said.

In Columbus, the number of calls and tips about child porn fielded at the Columbus Police Department varies from year to year.

“It’s kind of a roller-coaster thing. Child porn is generally not a thing that people call you up about,” Police Capt. Todd Thalken said.

So far this year, there have been four reports of possession or production of child porn. Last year there was one, and in 2010, there were five. Child pornography can include adults exploiting children and teenagers or children who send explicit photographs on their cellphones.

“It could be as simple as talking your girlfriend who is a minor into taking that kind of a photo or actually getting them to take a photo,” Thalken said.

The conference was sponsored by Catholic churches in Columbus, Court Little Flower #988 and the councils of the Knights of Columbus.

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