Pornography is no longer only in magazines and on TV. Today's porn is available online to anyone and, significantly, to young, internet-savvy children.
"One of the negatives of today's technology is the lack of controls and accountability," warns Julie Haltom, director of education at The Samaritan Women, an organization based in Baltimore and battling sexual exploitation nationwide. "There are very few—if any—regulatory controls on that platform and so we have a breeding ground for nefarious use. You may be surprised to learn that 89% of the entire world's pornography originates from the United States. We are not just consumers; we are the world's producer of this toxin. What research is telling us is that in the U.S, the average age of introduction to porn is 7 for boys and 11 for girls." What she believes is even more "mind-blowing" is that "the largest current consumer population of porn in the United States is 11- to 13-year-olds."
Parents, grandparents and other adults must protect children from those who would take advantage of the naivete of their young minds.
"We must take responsibility as adults to protect children, to set clear boundaries, to have hard conversations when it comes to technology, ultimately remembering that this is for the protection of their hearts," Haltom says.
Pornography is becoming normalized in mainstream music, television, movies, games and the internet. Children can access "anything and everything if you're not setting up parental controls, and not only what the kids have access to through these channels, but consider who has access to your kids!" she says.
"We are fueling a porn industry with our own children through easy access to the internet and lack of accountability with what our children are watching," Haltom adds. "It's just this vicious cycle."
Porn is addictive and, therefore, builds tolerance and demands more.
"It's similar to any other addiction," she says. "You crave more. You need more for the experience. An image is no longer fulfilling. The difference with harmful images is, there's no detox for what we see. It all stays in there."
In many ways, pornography is "fueling sexual exploitation," Haltom adds.
For resources on combating pornography, even in the church, go to sheltercareusa.org.
Click here to learn more from Julie Haltom in the third episode of this seven-part sex trafficking podcast series.
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