July 13, 2016

The GOP is Moving to Declare Pornography a Public Health Crisis

The debate on the harms of pornography has officially hit the national political stage.

Tuesday, the Republican National Committee affirmed an amendment to its platform declaring pornography a public health crisis.

The full draft of the platform will be sent to the floor of the convention next week. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation commends this development, and asks the Democratic National Committee to take similar action.

ACTION ALERT: Sign This Petition Asking the DNC to Recognize the Harms of Pornography

The public health crisis of pornography is a bipartisan issue, rooted in peer-reviewed research.

Since 2011, at least 24 studies have found that pornography has negative impacts on the brain, including decreased brain matter, as well as reduced impulse control and decision-making ability.

Research also demonstrates that pornography use is linked to increased verbal and physical aggression, the incidence and severity of rape perpetrated by batters, acceptance of rape myths, risky sexual behaviors among adolescents, behaviors associated with higher incidence of STIs, and increased cases of sexual dysfunction.

We are aware of children as young as nine years old who have reached out for help because they are struggling with compulsive pornography use.

Because pornography is so pervasive today, it has surpassed the ability individuals and families to protect themselves from its harmful influences. Instead, we need a public health approach to raise awareness about the harms of pornography, provide resources to those struggling with it, and to offer effective prevention strategies.

It is encouraging to see the Republican National Committee recognizing pornography as a public health crisis, and I hope the Democratic National Committee will do the same.

The current draft of the 2016 DNC party platform already includes language denouncing sexual violence against women, and calling for a greater emphasis on prevention efforts. Prevention programs on sexual violence must involve a discussion of the harms of pornography in order to be holistic and effective.

For instance, a study of university fraternity men has shown that pornography viewing is nearly universal among this group, and that pornography viewing is associated with greater intent to commit rape across pornography genres categorized as “mainstream,” sadomasochistic, and rape-themed. In other words, among pornography users, there was no category of pornography that did not result in a greater intent to commit rape if the user knew they wouldn’t be caught. This is unacceptable and undermines efforts to combat sexual assault on college campuses.

These and the other wide-ranging harms of pornography should be addressed as a public health crisis at the Democratic National Convention.

I believe pornography today will follow the trend of the tobacco industry in public perception.

Pornography today is pervasive and popular, similar to smoking in the 1950s, but as the harms become apparent, both the general public and elected officials will demand that a multi-disciplinary public health approach be implemented across the country to address it. I am calling on both the RNC and the DNC to endorse vigorous enforcement of

Pornography today is pervasive and popular, similar to smoking in the 1950s, but as the harms become apparent, both the general public and elected officials will demand that a multi-disciplinary public health approach be implemented across the country to address it. I am calling on both the RNC and the DNC to endorse vigorous enforcement of existing federal obscenity law, and to make it clear that the inherently sexually exploitive pornography industry is inconsistent with American principles of human dignity and equality.”

To learn more, visit: endsexualexploitation.org/publichealth

Dawn Hawkins

Chief Executive Officer

Dawn Hawkins is CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, the leading organization exposing the connections between all forms of sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking, prostitution, pornography, and child sexual abuse. Dawn’s energy, creativity and mobilization skills are deployed to build a world free from sexual violence, with freedom and human dignity for all.

Dawn is deeply committed to bipartisan political solutions at the federal and state level. Her issue expertise, visionary initiatives, and innovative strategy have led to groundbreaking change in the legislative arena and in multimillion-dollar corporate policies.

Dawn has been instrumental in re-imaging the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She has centered the need to address buyer demand for commercial sex, called out corporate entities facilitating exploitation through the annual Dirty Dozen List, fostered an international movement, and constantly: advocates for survivors. Her work has sparked change at Google, Hilton Worldwide, Comcast, Walmart, the Department of Defense, Instagram, TikTok, and other influential firms. Dawn has appeared on many television programs, including CNN, Fox & Friends, and Good Morning America. She regularly authors articles and speaks around the country addressing the public health harms of pornography, curbing demand for sex trafficking, protecting children and families in our digital world, and more.

Further Reading

Related