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.