April 2, 2020

STATEMENT – NCOSE Commends Utah for Passing Pornography “Warning Label” Bill

Washington, DC (April 2, 2020) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation commended the Utah Legislature for passing the Warning Labels Amendments (HB 243) that requires pornography to be labeled with this warning: “Exposing minors to obscene material may damage or negatively impact minors.”

Utah’s new ‘Warning Labels’ bill is an innovative way to warn the public that pornography is harmful, especially to minors. As Utah was the first state to approve a resolution recognizing public health harms of pornography, including its harms on the psychological, social, and physical development of youth, this bill is a natural next step in protecting the most vulnerable. We commend the Utah Legislature for its work to protect children from the harms of hardcore pornography, which often included themes of incest, racism, and extreme violence,” said Dawn Hawkins, senior vice president and executive director for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

“Children are at the greatest risk as research shows such exposure to pornography affects their developing brains, and the younger and more frequently children are exposed to pornography, the more problematic it becomes. Utah’s bill is much like warning labels for tobacco products, and will go a long way towards protecting children,” Hawkins added.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has created a Research Summary that reviews 100+ studies on the harms of pornography. Some findings include:

  • Pornography Has Detrimental Impacts on the Brain: Since 2011, there have been over 40 neurological studies which reveal pornography use has negative and detrimental impacts on the brain.
  • Pornography Teaches Users that Women Enjoy Sexual Violence and Degradation: A recent study of PornHub videos found that 43% of videos included what the researchers categorized as “visible aggression” and 15% included “nonconsensual aggression.” This violence was almost ubiquitously portrayed against women, and women responded to that violence with pleasure. In response to these findings, the researcher noted that the prevalence of aggressive and demeaning acts in videos featuring teenagers, “may signal to viewers of all ages that these acts are not only normative and legitimate, but perhaps even expected,” thus creating social pressure on both young women and men to re-enact them with their sexual partners.
  • Pornography is Linked to Depressive Symptoms: A study of young adults leaving college found that higher pornography use was significantly associated with less self-worth and more depressive symptoms. This was consistent after controlling for age, religiosity, impulsivity, race, and parent’s marital status.

Learn more about the public health harms of pornography at EndSexualExploitation.org/publichealth.

Further Reading