Back to School(ing)
With countless children across the nation continuing their education online amidst COVID-19, they’re at a greater risk of exposure to the harmful effects of pornography that is all too often and easily accessible on school devices and databases. Parents and educators are overwhelmed and anxious trying to mitigate the many risks and unknowns of the upcoming school year. Combatting pornography accessible through school-issued technology is beyond their individual capacity to control, especially in our current context. They need support and concrete measures to be taken by all accountable entities.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s 2020 Back to School(ing) Campaign aims to equip families and educators with information, resources, and actions they can take to keep kids safe online as vast numbers of students start the school year in a virtual learning environment. Over the four week campaign, we’ll feature the people, organizations, and entities that can have the greatest impact ensuring a safe online learning environment, specifically: families, school administrators, corporations, and the US federal government.
- The ABCs of Safe Online Home Learning
- Student Online S-A-F-E-T-Y: Is your school making the grade?
- Corporations in the Classroom: What are Google and EBSCO teaching our kids?
- Promoting Pornography-free Schools: The Role of the US Dept. of Education
- Download Protect Young Minds’ Back to School Online Safety Planner and 4 Safe & Sane Strategies for Virtual School
- Check out the FBI’s Stop Sextortion campaign
Schools and libraries should serve as safe and healthy havens for children to expand their minds, strengthen their character, and build positive relationships with peers and adults.
Unfortunately, sexually exploitive material is all too often easily accessible in these learning environments. Research shows that exposure to pornography and sexually explicit material puts children and adolescents at risk for a host of harms that threaten their intellectual growth, productivity, socio-emotional stability, relationship-building capacity, and healthy sexual development and behavior.
Schools and libraries can and should do more to foster safe, healthy, productive learning environments for children: and that means doing everything possible to ensure our kids are not exposed to pornography or sexually explicit material.
We need partnerships and policies between corporations, school administrations, and parents that prioritize the social, emotional, and physical well-being of children. Stronger protections against pornography on school-distributed devices is a concrete step in the right direction.
Continue reading for more resources and information about how we can all work toward Safe Schools, Safe Libraries.
- Ensure adequate Internet and Wi-Fi filters are in place and functioning properly.
- Reject online school research databases that expose children to pornography, normalize sexually violent and risky acts, and promote prostitution.
- Secure filters and safety controls on school-issued devices like Chromebooks, iPads, laptops before they are distributed to children (*this is especially critical when students take home devices and/or are using devices for virtual learning).
- Train school and library staff on Internet safety, critical porn analysis, the harms of pornography exposure on minors, and protocols and policies for when a student or minor library patron is exposed to pornography.
- Educate students about Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety with clear instructions on what to do if they come across sexually exploitative material.
- Online school databases that expose children to pornography, normalize sexually violent and risky acts, and promote prostitution.
- EBSCO Information Services offers online library resources to public and private schools (K-12), public libraries, and more. These are online resources provided by schools that children often use to do research for a school paper, or to complete other online homework. In its advertising for schools, it promises “fast access to curriculum-appropriate content.” However, several of EBSCO’s products provide easy access to hardcore pornography sites and extremely graphic sexual content. Innocent searches provide pornographic results. Via a system that bypasses school Internet filters, EBSCO brings the dark world of XXX to America’s elementary, middle, and high school children. Learn more here.
- Inadequate, or non-existent, computer and Wi-Fi filters to prevent exposure to pornography.
- Most schools and libraries are not using effective filtering on both the school computers and Wi-Fi, despite laws requiring them. In 2000 Congress passed (and the Supreme Court later upheld) the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)—a federal law that imposes requirements to filter Internet access to obscene pornography, child pornography, and other material that is harmful to minors. These requirements must be met in order for any school or library to receive funding from a governmental program called the E-rate program, which makes technology more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. However, CIPA requirements have been egregiously under-enforced, so schools and libraries are not being held accountable to filter.
- Inadequate, or non-existent, filters to block pornography on school-owned devices like iPads or laptops that are distributed to children.
- Beyond the responsibility of schools to create safe environments on their physical property, they also have a responsibility to create safe learning environments on school-owned devices they distribute. Schools around the country now give students iPads or laptops or other electronic devices with few, if any, monitoring systems. This is unacceptable. School administration responsibility extends beyond the school grounds—whether that is regarding a school-sponsored trip, or a school-sponsored device. On any fieldtrip schools would not allow students to be exposed to violent, degrading pornographic images, and so too they must take the necessary precautions to ensure school-distributed electronic devices are not exposing children to harmful material.
This is a national outrage.
Parents and guardians trust the schools and libraries to hold themselves accountable to a higher standard of protecting children from sexually exploitive, objectifying, and damaging material. Yet, news reports of children gaining access to porn in schools and public libraries are a regular occurrence.
Pornography turns once-safe community schools and libraries into a XXX space that fosters child sexual abuse, sexual assault, exhibitionism, stalking, and lewd behavior in libraries across the country.
Quick facts about the harms of pornography:
- A 2014 study found that increased pornography use is linked to decreased brain matter in the areas of motivation and decision-making, impaired impulse control, and desensitization to sexual reward.
- A 2015 meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries found that internationally the consumption of pornography was significantly associated with increases in verbal and physical aggression, among males and females alike
- As a result of viewing pornography women reported lowered body image, criticism from their partners regarding their bodies increased pressure to perform acts seen in pornographic films, and less actual sex, while men reported being more critical of their partners’ body and less interested in actual sex.
- A 2015 study found that men’s frequency of pornography use is positively linked to body image insecurity regarding muscularity and body fat, and to increased anxiety in romantic relationships.
For citations and further research, visit https://endsexualexploitation.org/publichealth/
Is this the kind of sexual education we want our communities to promote?
The good news is you can make a difference through the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s Safe Schools, Safe Libraries project.
Our Safe Schools, Safe Libraries project is a grassroots campaign designed to empower parents throughout the country with the tools needed to identify the local schools and public libraries where children are at risk.
Using our tactics, dozens of concerned citizens around the country have been able to get their local schools and libraries to improve policies.
We provide you with three “getting started” packets to help you protect the children in your community. Thank you for taking a stand!
- Getting Started: Online Library Databases
- Getting Started: Filtering in Schools and on School-Distributed Devices (Upcoming)
Check Your Local School’s Online Databases
4 Safe & Sane Strategies for Virtual School
Public Health Harms of Pornography
Pornography In Our K-12 Schools
Back to School Online Safety Planner
Help educate others and demand change by sharing these on social media:
You can be a leader in your area! We have many resources to help you.
Please let us know that you’re leading the charge in your area and let us help you! We are here to help you organize, coordinate, network, and be successful! Send us your name, phone number, and location. Email email@example.com.
This is a playlist of videos uploaded by library patrons, most made by teens, who have caught other patrons viewing pornography at their local libraries. After talking with many librarians, looking at the news articles that pop up in “Google Alerts” daily on this topic, and just a quick perusal of YouTube – one can see that this is clearly a common occurrence in public libraries.
News Articles Demonstrating Harm
- The Coronavirus Pandemic Puts Children at Risk of Online Sexual Exploitation
- Pandemic causing exponential rise in online exploitation of children
- Sweetwater Union High School District investigating instances of porn popping up during virtual classes (California)
- Students in Surprise school exposed to porn in virtual classroom (Arizona)
- Former Hockaday School teacher arrested on child pornography charge (Texas)
- Instagram The Worst As Social Media Slammed As ‘A Gateway For Child Abuse’
- Instagram biggest for child grooming online – NSPCC finds
- Snapchat Has Become A ‘Haven For Child Abuse’ With Its ‘Self-Destructing Messages’
- 5 Angry Parents Speak Up About Unprotected School-issued Chromebooks
- 5 Things You Can Do to Ensure Your Children are Safe Online During Quarantine
- STATEMENT – Google Fails to Protect Kids on School Sanctioned Chromebooks
June 5, 2018
A 43-year-old Berwyn man convicted of sexually assaulting a child in Wisconsin in 2014 is free on bond after being arrested by Riverside police for viewing pornography on a computer at the Riverside Public Library in violation of the conditions of his sentence.
May 10, 2018
In Florida, the parents of a boy with special needs say that older students in his special education classes used an iPad to show their son pornography. The boy’s mother also “claims the school’s gym teacher called her son a ‘tattle-tale’ after he reported what happened.”
March 13, 2018
Parents of a boy in New York said their son came home from school one day and said that another boy had been looking at porn on a school computer. The parents showed up on campus to talk to school administrators about the incident, and the administrators could not provide any details because the matter was under investigation. The parents refused to leave the school property until they received answers, and they were arrested for trespassing.
February 16, 2018
A mother claims her son unintentionally viewed pornography three times on a school-issued iPad. Her son typed in the phrase “girls with trucks” and nude pictures of girls popped up.
January 30, 2018
A woman’s nine-year-old granddaughter saw a man looking at pornography on a computer at the library. She did some research and realized that looking at adult websites at public libraries is actually legal. Librarians who see patrons viewing pornography can ask them to move to a computer with a private screen, but they claim they have no power to regulate the content that users view.
December 21, 2017
Librarians report that they often have a hard time balancing the right of freedom of information against protecting the rights of other patrons. Libraries that receive federal funds are required to install filters, so many libraries forego these funds in order to maintain “intellectual freedom.”
November 22, 2017
NBC4’s report on pornographic viewing in libraries have spurred two city council members to take action and demand the installation of filtering software on library computers.
October 5, 2017
After being caught viewing child porn on a public library computer, a man is facing federal child pornography charges. A librarian says he had confronted the man about looking at pornography several times in the past couple of years. Currently, the library does not use filtering programs to block certain websites.
September 30, 2017
A woman saw a man viewing child pornography on a library computer and the police department is investigating the report. Although child pornography in any form is illegal, the library policy does not limit or restrict access to information due to controversial content. In fact, the library does not have any filters on its public computers.
September 25, 2017
Parents of a twelve-year-old boy say that their son stumbled upon pornographic images on his school-issued laptop. After the parents looked into the matter, they realized that the school filters did not block hundreds of pornographic images. The problem with the school district’s filtering system is that it can only block websites based on web address, keywords, or category, so it often fails to block explicit images.
September 1, 2017
A father of two children noticed that his son was able to pull up YouTube on a school-issued laptop, on which YouTube was supposedly blocked. After doing some simple searches, the father realized that pornographic content was easily accessible on the laptop.
January 24, 2017
A woman went to the library to fill out forms for her mother’s nursing home, but instead saw someone watching “very explicit” porn without blinders, without headphones, and videotaping it on his phone. “It’s not my business what they look at,” said a librarian at Harold Washington Library.
January 3, 2017
Monte Carrol Wainscott had several search warrants executed in which officers were able to impose 15 charges of possession/ promotion of child pornography. It was found that he was using the library’s computers to upload pornographic pictures of children.
November 8, 2016
Using the Washoe County Public Library (Nevada) computers, a man downloaded child sexual abuse images (i.e., child pornography) and email them to himself.
October 26, 2016
Police say the 36-year-old man was taking inappropriate pictures of children, teens and adults without their knowledge. Library workers in Indiana told police that they found child pornography on a computer that the man had recently used.
October 26, 2016
A man was arrested after allegedly viewing child pornography at a public library in Southeast Idaho.
September 28, 2016
Kids studying after school at their local library went to check out a book, but from the checkout line could see someone viewing porn on one of the library computers. The ALA says “the use of filtration software is a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.”
September 21, 2016
Police in Austin, Texas, watched live security video showing a man searching for child sexual abuse images. Police say it appeared the man was saving the images to a hard drive. The security officer recognized the man, having kicked him out of the library once before for viewing pornography on the public computers.
September 15, 2016
A Bridgewater, Connecticut, man was arrested at the town’s library after police caught him committing a lewd act while apparently watching pornography on a computer. Police say a 14-year-old was sitting next to him at the time.
August 26, 2016
A Knox County, Kentucky, man was arrested Tuesday after he was allegedly discovered looking at child sexual abuse images on a Pulaski County Public Library computer.
August 20, 2016
A man in Huntington, West Virginia, was arrested and charged with distribution of child porn after Huntington Police state he accessed child porn via computer at the Cabell County Public Library’s main branch in downtown Huntington.
June 17, 2016
Two of Houston County’s public libraries were hacked and for downloads of pornography. The libraries will both shut off their Wi-Fi until they obtain federal money to update their systems.
May 9, 2016
A convicted sex offender was arrested allegedly downloading child pornography on a computer at a San Diego, California, library and then distributing the images to other people.
April 6, 2016
A complaint of a man viewing child pornography on a computer at the public library in 2014 led to his arrest in 2016 for possession of child sexual abuse images.
January 26, 2016
A state appeals court says a man does not have a constitutional right to view pornography on a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire library computer.
January 19, 2016
While on a fieldtrip with her students at the Billings Public Library, a local teacher saw of pornography on one of the private screens.
January 14, 2016
Police say U-District sex offender fresh from prison downloaded child sexual abuse images at a number of public Wi-Fi sites, including the Seattle Public Library.
December 24, 2015
A Winlock, Washington, man was arrested after an FBI investigation revealed that he was allegedly using a social networking site and public library Internet service to send and receive child sexual abuse images.
November 21, 2015
In what may be a national first, a public library has approved the use of unfiltered computers in the children’s section of the library.
September 23, 2015
A convicted sex offender is accused of distributing child sex abuse images from a public computer at the Bellmawr branch of the Camden County Library, New Jersey.
July 22, 2015
The library staff was alerted after a man was seen sitting at a computer, watching porn and masturbating. After staff told the man to leave, he started screaming and threw a computer keyboard. A staff member followed him to the parking lot where the man hit the staff member with is car.
April 22, 2015
An Oregon man was charged Wednesday with first-degree sexual assault of a child after police said he touched an 8-year-old girl on the buttocks while she played a game on a computer at the Madison Public Library. Police in another jurisdiction reported multiple contacts the man because he searched for pornography as school and public libraries. .
April 17, 2015
A homeless sex offender faces federal charges for watching pornography at several Akron libraries.
March 7, 2015
The Orland Park Library is the scene of the latest effort by a library to cover up its literally criminal ways by having published a letter to the editor of the Orland Park Prairie.
March 7, 2015
Library patrons are disturbed by a man viewing pornography on public computers. The librarian claims that all she can do is suggest he move to a more discreet computer, of one is available.
February 27, 2015
A man uses public library computers to view underage girls in pornography. Library patrons are surprised and stunned that a man could use the computer to look up such explicit and illegal material.
February 16, 2015
A group of regular library visitors is known for viewing sexually graphic video and images with parents and children nearby. They also print sexually explicit images, which cause other library patrons using printing services to be involuntarily exposed to the material.
February 13, 2015
High school students spotted a man viewing child pornography on the computer at the Westland Public Library. After arresting the man, the police found hundreds of items related to child pornography in his home.
February 13, 2015
An arrest was issued for a Fargo man accused of using a public computer at the Fargo library to search for child pornography.
January 31, 2015
A La Crosse man claimed he was looking at pictures of models on a public library at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Murphy Library, but officers found sexually graphic videos and pictures of children as young as 4-years-old during a search of the computer.
January 6, 2015
An 11-year old girl and her friend saw a man viewing porn on a computer, despite the privacy screens, at a public library. She immediately told the librarian, who informed her, and then her mother, that it was “his right” to view pornography at a public library.
October 17, 2014
A mother is concerned about the exposure of children to pornography at Auburn Public Library. The woman was in the kid’s section with her children and witnessed hard core pornography being watched on a screen in the adult section that was facing right in their direction.
August 7, 2014
A Portland man is facing charges after he allegedly viewed child pornography inside the Central Library in downtown Portland on Tuesday.
June 5, 2014
A former school bus driver on probation was arrested for downloading hundreds of images of child porn at Scottsdale library. He specifically used the Mustang Library because, according to him, its computers “don’t filter as well as the other libraries.”
May 13, 2014
A northwest suburban man listed by the state as a sexual predator will spend 10 years in prison for looking at child pornography on a computer at a public library last year.
April 17, 2015
A homeless sex offender faces federal charges that accuse him of watching child pornography at several Akron libraries.
March 13, 2014
A 41-year-old Wood County resident was convicted of accessing child pornography with intent to view it while he was logged on to a computer located at the Parkersburg and Wood County Library.
January 7, 2014
A 23-year-old Gresham man is facing criminal charges after police said he looked at pornographic photos of children on a public computer at the library.
September 20, 2013
A Westmont man was charged with obscenity and disorderly conduct after he viewed online pornography in the youth services area of his local library.
September 9, 2013
Seattle public library says, that because it is an issue of censorship, the libraries will not stop their customers from accessing information that is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
August 6, 2013
A woman reported seeing a man viewing child pornography on a public computer at Monroe library. The man had been downloading child pornography from the city library onto a cellphone.
July 24, 2013
A Bloomingdale sex offender was arrested Wednesday after police say he was viewing child pornography at a public library.
April 18, 2013
Director of marketing and communications for Chicago Public Library said Chicago libraries don’t use filters because “in terms of pornography, it is legal.”
July 21, 2012
In response to the complaints from numerous library patrons concerning pornographic images being in full view of passersby, a library installed 18 computer monitors with plastic hoods. They prefer this solution to filtering or censoring images.
April 1, 2012
Man found stripped to his underwear in library; police report shows the past year of assaults, lewd acts, drug-use have occurred at San Juan Library; Martin Luther King Library has big problems with patrons accessing pornography on computers.
March 20, 2012
A Corsicana man arrested for allegedly viewing child pornography on a Corsicana Public Library computer was indicted Thursday on 10 counts of possession of porn.
February 3, 2012
The ACUL is suing a Washington state library district with the claim that not allowing porn is censorship.
February 2, 2012
The Seattle Public Library has a long list of rules of things you can’t do in the library. You can’t eat, sleep, look like you’re sleeping, be barefoot, be too stinky or talk too loudly. But you can watch graphic porn on a public computer in front of kids.
February 1, 2012
A resident complained last week about a man watching pornography on a public computer and behaving lewdly in front of a Malibu library. According to a county Board of Supervisors policy, the Malibu Library is unable to stop customers from using computers to view pornography.
January 31, 2012
A Seattle librarian refused to force a man watching hardcore porn on a computer to move to a more discreet location, even after a woman with two children complained.
January 29, 2012
A man was seen snapping photos at the park. On the same day, a woman reported that her daughter had just left RSM library where the same man was watching pornography on a library computer.
January 6, 2012
Library patron printed pages of pornography off a computer used by the public, but never collected them at the printer before it ran out of paper.
January 3, 2012
When a homeless man was accused of fondling himself in the Laguna Beach public library while viewing pornography. Laguna Beach libraries have insisted that they are obliged to provide Internet access to pornography as a matter of their clients’ free- speech rights.
December 15, 2011
A Hannibal man accused of downloading child pornography on a Hannibal Public Library computer has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. Gary Wayne Martin, 45, was indicted by a federal grand jury of one felony count of production and two felony counts of possession after an arrest last March.
December 5, 2011
Fourth grader exposed to hardcore pornography while visiting library with mother. Mother says the girl was deeply affected and could sleep that night. Librarian refused to do anything about it.
December 5, 2011
Grand Rapids resident, Alan Waldron, 43, faces a maximum of five years in prison for using the Lowell Library’s wireless to download more than 100 images of pornography—including some that depicted sexual acts between children.
December 2, 2011
A registered sex offender from Orange County made his initial appearance in federal court Thursday, following his arrest at a local public library where witnesses allegedly observed him viewing child pornography on one of the library’s computers.
December 2, 2011
Eight men watched pornography at a public library computer while one masturbated in public. The library responded to public outrage, saying there wasn’t much they could do.
November 11, 2011
Hawthorne-Longfellow Library will continue its policy to not restrict Internet access, despite several incidents of involving pornography and public masturbation in the library.
April 13, 2011
After a recent outcry about online pornography at a Chinatown branch library, Los Angeles has been working to protect bystanders while not infringing on computer users’ 1st Amendment rights.
November 17, 2010
A sex offender is behind bars after police say he surfed for porn in a public library, in front of a child.
September 9, 2010
Birmingham, AL librarian sues library for having a ‘hostile work environment’ where patrons view porn in her presence, harass and grope her, and are allowed to do so in presence of children.
June 29, 2010
Quincy, MA, councilman wants list of people accessing porn in libraries after several incidents of public indecency.
May 6, 2010
The Washington State Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of the North Central Regional Library when the library was sued by the ACLU for installing Internet filters to prevent access to pornography.
June 9, 2009
Holyoke MA man charged with downloading child porn from library computers. The library he viewed it at had allowed 40 computers to remain filter-free after library governing body had required filters for the computers.
January 24, 2008
7.5% of web traffic was for pornography at a local Dallas library over a randomly selected period.
Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
Additionally, it is important to note that a specific law pertaining to libraries and schools regarding the Internet was passed by Congress in 2000 and was found to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. The ALA and the ACLU commonly misinterpret this law and disseminate misleading information to libraries and schools regarding their rights to place filters on computers. You will likely face this.
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law enacted by Congress to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. CIPA imposes certain types of requirements on any school or library that receives funding for Internet access or internal connections from the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications technology more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. In early 2001, the FCC issued rules implementing CIPA.
What CIPA Requires
- Schools and libraries subject to CIPA may not receive the discounts offered by the E-rate program unless they certify that they have an Internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures. The protection measures must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are: (a) obscene, (b) child pornography, or (c) harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors). Before adopting this Internet safety policy, schools and libraries must provide reasonable notice and hold at least one public hearing or meeting to address the proposal.
- Schools subject to CIPA are required to adopt and enforce a policy to monitor online activities of minors.
- Schools and libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement an Internet safety policy addressing: (a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet; (b) the safety and security of minors when using electonic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; (c) unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online; (d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (e) measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.
- Schools and libraries are required to certify that they have their safety policies and technology in place before receiving E-rate funding.
- CIPA does not affect E-rate funding for schools and libraries receiving discounts only for telecommunications, such as telephone service.
- An authorized person may disable the blocking or filtering measure during any use by an adult to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.
- CIPA does not require the tracking of Internet use by minors or adults.
Opposition to CIPA:
In 2001, the ALA and the ACLU challenged the law on the grounds that the law required libraries to unconstitutionally block access to constitutionally protected information on the Internet. They specifically argued that “no filtering software successfully differentiates constitutionally protected speech from illegal speech on the Internet.” In 2003, upon appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the law was upheld as constitutional and that it was permissible to install filters on all school and library computers, and further held that it was constitutional to mandate libraries receiving specific funding to have filters installs.
The ALA and ACLU often argue that it is against a person’s First Amendment rights to have to ask a librarian to remove a filter for a desired search. However, this is exactly what the High Court said was sufficient in instances where an individual wanted to access material blocked by a filter. Adults may ask the librarian to unblock material. This is an important added barrier to individuals viewing indecent material in our schools and libraries. The mere need to ask would deter most individuals from attempting to view such material, and the requests would largely remain for material that is reasonable or for a specific purpose other than gratifying one’s personal desire to view porn.
- Local: Your local community might have specific regulations already in place. You’ll have to check your specific area.
- State: Some states have legislation in place already. You can find details about your state here: http://bit.ly/xPCEuW. The list is not complete, but we are working on providing an updated database for you.
- Federal: There are a number of federal laws relating to pornography and specifically to filtering in schools and public libraries. See below for more details on these. You can also learn more about federal obscenity laws here: www.WarOnIllegalPornography.com.
- Children’s Internet Protection Act: It is important to note that a specific law pertaining to libraries and schools regarding the Internet was passed by Congress in 2000 and was found to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. This law mandates that libraries and schools must have filters in place if they opt-in to receive specific e-rate federal funding. The ALA often recommends that libraries refuse this funding so that they don’t have to filter.
Much of the available hard-core adult pornography online is actually illegal.
First, one common misconception people have is that pornography is legal and protected by the First Amendment. The truth is that obscenity (hardcore adult pornography) is prohibited under existing Federal laws. These laws prohibit distribution of hardcore, obscene pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite or hotel/motel TV and in sexually oriented businesses and other retail shops. Additionally, it is important to understand that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. This has been repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The role of the Federal Government should be, as it has been in the past, to prosecute the major producers and distributors of obscene pornography. However, the U.S. Justice Department is not currently enforcing these laws and for the last 20 years only sporadically enforced them. Thus, illegal, obscene pornography is flooding our nation and the harm is great.
Many people do not understand that obscenity is actually illegal. The American Library Association (ALA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other anti-filtering groups often exploit this common misunderstanding to argue against the use of filters. You should often point out that filters would block obscenity, which is a majority of the hardcore adult pornography accessed on the Internet and likely accessed at your library/school.
For details on federal obscenity laws and U.S. Supreme Court rulings upholding these laws, visit https://endsexualexploitation.org/doj/.
What is pornography?
The term “pornography” is a generic, not a legal term. As noted by the Supreme Court in the landmark 1973 obscenity case, Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 20, n.2, the term: “Pornography” derives from the Greek (harlot, and graphos, writing). The word now means “1: a description of prostitutes or prostitution 2. a depiction (as in a writing or painting) of licentiousness or lewdness: a portrayal of erotic behavior designed to cause sexual excitement.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary [Unabridged 1969]…
What is obscenity?
The term “obscenity” is a legal term, and in Miller v. California, supra the Supreme Court established a three-pronged test for determining whether a “work” (i.e., material or a performance) is obscene and therefore unprotected by the First Amendment. To be obscene, a judge and/or a jury must determine:
First, that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; AND second, that the work depicts or describes in a patently offensive way, as measured by contemporary community standards, “hardcore” sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable law; AND third, that a reasonable person would find that the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political and scientific value.
SIDE NOTE: Typical “hardcore pornography” (e.g., a website, DVD or magazine) consists of little if anything more than one depiction of hardcore sex after the other (i.e., it’s “wall-to-wall” sex).