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Is Pornography a Modern Crisis?

Pornography is becoming a primary sex educator for boys and young men, displacing explanations from parents, formal instruction in schools, and even conversations with peers.

A committee in the Utah legislature has voted to classify pornography as a public health crisis. Although this is merely a resolution and not a law, it could mark a new stage of awareness of the harms of pornography.

“Everything in the resolution is supported by science and research,” said the state senator who introduced the resolution, Todd Weiler. “It’s not just a kooky thing that some politician from Mormon Utah came up with. It’s bigger than that.”

The news was ridiculed across the internet and on social media by people who asserted that pornography is neither addictive nor harmful.

“I personally believe it is,” Weiler responded. “I think the science shows that it is. I believe that’s a discussion we should be having because it’s impacting divorces, it’s impacting our youth, it’s undermining the family”

“Public health crisis” is a term which has been used to describe Ebola, SARS, the Chinese milk scandal and smoking. Is porn really as destructive as these?

Pornography is a huge industry, although hard figures are difficult to obtain. According to a report in The Economist, there are possibly 700 to 800 million individual porn pages, 60 percent of them in the US. A portal for pornography, PornHub, claims that it had nearly 80 billion video viewings in 2014 and more than 18 billion visits.

It’s obvious that we live in a pornography-saturated culture. The figures vary from study to study but across national boundaries, the story is the same: young people are consuming lots of pornography. Michael Flood, an Australian researcher in the sociology of pornography, notes that in one Swedish study from 2007, 92 percent of young men and 57 percent of young women aged 15-18 had watched a “porno film”.