From the Desk of Laura Bunker
Jennifer Brown from Utah is a mother of five boys who was concerned when she realized how accessible pornography was through the free internet at a local restaurant. Jen contacted her State Senator Todd Weiler and asked, “What can we do to protect our children from pornography?” Senator Weiler communicated with the National Center for Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) who offered to draft a “Resolution calling Pornography a Public Health Crisis.” At Senator Weiler’s insistence, every sentence was supported by science. The Resolution ultimately passed through both the Utah House and the Senate without a single opposing vote!
And on Tuesday, history was made in a ceremonial bill-signing event, where pornography was officially declared a Public Health Crisis. After the bill signing, Governor Herbert praised Jennifer Brown and said, “You don’t have to be an elected official to make things happen!”
From small beginnings, this resolution has grown into an international conversation. Legislatively, it has been requested by a dozen other states. Culturally, it has been discussed on TV shows such as The View and The Doctors, and major media outlets across the U.S.
For example, the Washington Post recently reported, ” After 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality — for the worse… As the evidence piles up, a coalition of academics, health professional, educators, feminist activists and caregivers has decided that they can no longer allow the porn industry to hijack the physical and emotional well-being of our culture. This means understanding that porn is everyone’s problem.”
We agree. Porn is everyone’s problem, and we are all paying the price! That is why United Families International took copies of the Resolution with us to the UN Commission on the Status of Women last month. We hosted presentations with Fight the New Drug, and we explained that porn and trafficking create a vicious cycle – porn fuels trafficking which then produces more porn. Even many who are not our allies on other family issues agreed with these concerns, and rushed to us afterward to take copies of the Resolution home with them to their own countries.
The Resolution that began with one mother’s concern for her boys, is now in the hands of many international citizens, NGOs, UN Ambassadors, and governmental leaders across the globe. One concerned mother. One courageous legislator. And the world is finally talking about the REAL affects of Pornography!
What can you do? We invite you to read Stacey Huffaker’s UFI alert below, offering some good ideas, and reminding all that “it may take just one voice – your voice – to make a big difference in your community!”
Faithfully for Families,
United Families International, President
What Can We Do to Protect Children?
By Stacey Huffaker
Children are experts at finding joy in the simple things of life. They run to the window they hear a train and watch in amazement at a construction site. A simple walk down the street can be filled with wonder while stopping to look at rocks, insects, and other creatures. Their smiles and giggles are contagious. Who can’t help but have their day brightened by looking at life even for a moment through the eyes of a child?
Unfortunately, children have little control over their surroundings, which makes them vulnerable to their environment.
A 5-year-old child once said to me, “sex is gross.” I was taken aback! I was concerned about what he was being exposed to, and alarmed that he knew this term.
A similar story was told at a recent anti-pornography conference. A mother was at the grocery store with her 7-year-old son, when she noticed a very inappropriate magazine at his eye level in the checkout stand. She tried to step in front of it in hopes that he didn’t see it, but when they got to the car her son said, “Mom, I hate magazines.”
What happened to the joy and innocence of childhood? Today’s children are bombarded by sexual images and messages in grocery stores, on billboards, in magazines, on television, internet, and cell phones, before they are old enough to understand the consequences of seeing them. More than one quarter (27%) of young adults say they first viewed pornography before puberty.
What can we do to protect children?
Aimee Newton, Adrianne Thygerson, and Shelley DeVries were concerned citizens who decided to take a stand in their communities. At the recent Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP) conference, they shared some ideas to protect children against pornography in our own communities:
- Work on your family standard first. Educate yourself and your family about the dangers of pornography. Establish a family media/technology use plan and stick to it.
- Recognize that everyone is always voting for standards. If you don’t speak up about inappropriate material, you are accepting it.
- Talk to store managers. Even just a few voices can make a difference. Plan on taking five minutes to talk to manager every time you shop. Either thank them for providing a child friendly environment or request that they make their stores appropriate for a general shopping public. You can encourage them to use blinder covers, or better yet, have family-friendly shopping lanes.
- Talk to six friends and get them all to talk to a store owner with you. There is power in numbers.
- Talk to your local city council. Encourage them to define and adopt a strong child appropriate community standard. If your city has a “Healthy City” committee, get involved and educate them on this issue.
- Encourage schools and school districts to include anti-pornography programs like “Fight the New Drug.” Parents need the education just as much as kids, so you could arrange for a Parent Night.
- Support White Ribbon Week at schools. Sign up through Parent-Teacher organizations, or volunteer time and effort to make the week a success.
- When schools sign up to participate in school recognition programs with local merchants, let merchants know that local Parent-Teacher organization will support businesses that support a community child appropriate community standard.
- Write state legislators and ask them to support specific bills that promote high community standards, stricter pornography laws, or recognition of pornography as a public health crisis.
- In addition to state legislators, reach out to Senators and Representatives in Congress to let them know you would like to see the Internet as opt-in for pornography (similar to what is required in the UK). Use apps like Yelp to rate stores on how they uphold child appropriate community standards.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about the harmful effects of pornography with neighbors, friends, church or community groups, or on social media. The more we make this topic mainstream, the more support we will see.
Aimee, Adrianne and Shelley took a stand to protect children against obscene images. They each helped present resolutions against pornography to their city councils. They then shared them with local store managers to encourage them to create child-appropriate environments in their stores.
Perhaps you have thought about one thing that you can do to protect children in your community. Maybe it is something as big as passing a resolution or as seemingly small as talking to your children about media standards or what to do if they encounter an inappropriate image. I encourage you and me to do that one thing that will take a step toward protecting children in our community. It may take just one voice – your voice to make a big difference in your community!
Stacey Huffaker loves spending time with her nieces and nephews and has a passion for strengthening homes and families. She is a remote Child Development instructor for BYU-Idaho in the Home and Family department. She graduated from BYU-Idaho in Family and Consumer Science Education and Utah State University in Family, Consumer, and Human Development.