What would you do if a local radio station advertised how to hide a porn habit?
After an Arizona radio station aired a public service announcement detailing how to hide pictures of “naked juveniles,” petitions and public outcry has “put tiny Benson (Arizona) on the map,” according to an editorial by the self-declared radio station manager, Paul Lotsof.
Although the announcement is garnishing public attention because of it’s alleged attempt to help keep child porn users out of jail, the Arizona radio station is not an isolated incident of pornography in the media.
The message of pornography as an epidemic is catching the eyes of churches, governments and families alike and now, 25 students in a new BYU-Idaho class entitled, “Pornography and the Family.”
“A lot of campuses teach addiction courses, and those are very valuable,” Kevin Green, a marriage and family professor who teaches the course, said. “But I wanted to go more on the research and the social science of pornography on both the individual, marriages and also the family.”
The pornography industry has gradually left the stereotypical “adult” or Triple X stores and seeped into the internet, putting younger and younger demographics at stake.
According to Fight the New Drug, by the time they turn 14 years old, two out of three boys in the U.S. have viewed porn in the last year, and many are watching it on devices they have with them 24 hours a day.”
In recent years, organizations like Fight the New Drug and governments have tried to throw the covers off the porn industry. In 2016, the state of Utah declared pornography a health crisis.
On LDS.org, pornography is mentioned in eighty General Conference talks alone.
“Catholic bishops, Protestant ministers, Jewish rabbis, and Muslim mullahs have all spoken out on this sin because God Himself has spoken out on it,” Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in his keynote address at the Utah Coalition against Pornography’s 14th annual conference in 2016.
Despite the warnings issued by religious clergy, politicians and even some in science, the growing ease and acceptance of a practice hailed with more benefits than damage rivals other social taboos.
According to a study entitled, “The Porn Phenomenon” by the Barna Group, 32 percent of respondents said viewing porn is “usually or always wrong” as opposed to 56 percent who said not recycling is “usually or always wrong.”
Popular LDS blogger, Stephanie Nielson, spoke at a BYU-Idaho forum in 2016 and detailed her experience with others encouraging pornography use. Following an airplane crash which caused severe burning and permanent damage to her face and body, Nielson said her husband was encouraged to view porn as a means of coping with the trial they were both facing.
Nielson’s husband soundly rejected not only the idea of using porn as a comfort but the normalcy of the behavior. However, an increasing number of men and women do not.
“Porn sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined each month,” according to the Huffington Post.
For Nielson, even the suggestion of her husband using pornography was emotionally disturbing.
“I can’t image having to compete with pornography when I was in such a fragile place in my life,” Nielson said.
Green hopes the class brings the same sense of urgency and information expressed by so many, into the classroom.
“I hope the class makes a really informative impact for students,” Green said. “We hear and read a lot of things on the matter, and hopefully this class will give a social science and spiritual perspective on something that is impacting a lot of people.”
The class itself aims to do more than merely inform students about the dangers of what the Barna Group says is “now a standard feature of everyday life.” At the end of the semester, students turn advocates in creating a proactive anti-pornography public service announcement.
“We’ve always talked about pornography on the individual, so when we get to talk about the widespread effects, we are able to understand why it is such a problem,” said Conrad Hamilton, a junior studying marriage and family and a student in the class.
The class, Green says, has received significant positive feedback from its current students. It will be offered again in the Fall 2017 semester with an additional 10 extra spots than the Spring 2017 enrollment.
Green said the class is designed as a discussion course on studies and readings from class, a structure Elder Jeffrey R. Holland encouraged in his keynote address to the Utah Coalition against Pornography 2016 Conference.
“(No) real headway can or will be made in this battle until there is a much deeper, much broader, and, frankly, much more fearful concern about the actual threat of pornography than we presently see in society in general,” Elder Holland said in his keynote address.