January 30, 2018

Mark Salling Case: An Opportunity to Reflect on the Harms of Pornography

According to news reports, Glee star Mark Salling is dead at age 35 from an apparent suicide. Salling pleaded guilty to possession of over 50,000 images of child pornography in 2017. He was awaiting his sentencing and was facing up to seven years in prison.

 As a talented, successful, prominent young man, Mark Salling does not fit our society’s stereotypical image of someone who might be susceptible to seeking out and possessing child sexual exploitation images. However, this tragic case shows that a person does not need to belong to any particular demographic, sector of society, or income level to become involved in child pornography.

News reports do not make clear whether Salling’s addiction started with child pornography, or with other forms of adult pornography. While factors that lead a person to seek out child pornography may vary, research tells us that compulsive sexual behavior is characterized by novelty-seeking, habituation, and conditioning, meaning that users need more extreme content over time to achieve the same level of arousal. These are all symptoms of addiction.

Child pornography is documentation of child sexual abuse. #EndExploitation Click To Tweet

This high profile case is tragic, both for Salling’s victims—his pornography collection is actually an archive of victims of child sexual abuse—and for the actor himself, who Glee producer Tim Davis described as a ‘broken man.’ It is also an opportunity to reflect upon the destructive influence of pornography and sexual exploitation more generally, which harm both the victims, and ultimately, those perpetrating the abuse.

For more information about the individual and public health harms of pornography, click here.

Haley Halverson

Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach

Haley Halverson is the Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she develops and executes national campaigns to change policies and raise awareness. Most notably, she promotes corporate social responsibility by constructing annual activism campaigns like the Dirty Dozen List, which names 12 mainstream private companies that facilitate sexual exploitation. Her advocacy work has contributed to instigating policy improvements in the native online advertising, retail, and hotel industries.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts at Johns Hopkins University.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for Media Research Center. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, FoxNews.com, Townhall.com, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence.

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