The Republican National Committee affirmed an amendment to its platform declaring pornography a public health crisis. The full draft of the platform will be sent to the floor of the Republican National Convention this week. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation commends this development, and asks the Democratic National Committee to take similar action.

Image/Donkey Hotey
Image/Donkey Hotey

“The public health crisis of pornography is a bipartisan issue, rooted in peer-reviewed research,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “Since 2011, at least 24 studies have found that pornography has negative impacts on the brain, including decreased brain matter, as well as reduced impulse control and decision-making ability.  Research also demonstrates that pornography use is linked to increased verbal and physical aggression, the incidence and severity of rape perpetrated by batters, acceptance of rape myths, risky sexual behaviors among adolescents, behaviors associated with higher incidence of STIs, and increased cases of sexual dysfunction.”

“We are aware of children as young as nine years old who have reached out for help because they are struggling with compulsive pornography use,” Hawkins stated. “This should come as no surprise, in light of a 2015 survey which found that more than a quarter of young adults (ages 25-30) first viewed pornography before puberty. Because pornography is so pervasive today, it has surpassed the ability individuals and families to protect themselves from its harmful influences. Instead, we need a public health approach to raise awareness about the harms of pornography, provide resources to those struggling with it, and to offer effective prevention strategies. I am very encouraged to see the Republican National Committee adopt the amendment to its platform recognizing pornography as a public health crisis, and I am calling on the Democratic National Committee to do the same.”

LISTEN: ‘Child produced sexual content’ with Dawn Hawkins

“The current draft of the 2016 DNC party platform already includes language denouncing sexual violence against women, and calling for a greater emphasis on prevention efforts,” Hawkins added. “Prevention programs on sexual violence must involve a discussion of the harms of pornography in order to be holistic and effective. For instance, a study of university fraternity men has shown that pornography viewing is nearly universal among this group, and that pornography viewing is associated with greater intent to commit rape across pornography genres categorized as “mainstream,” sadomasochistic, and rape-themed. In other words, among pornography users, there was no category of pornography that did not result in a greater intent to commit rape if the user knew they wouldn’t be caught. This is unacceptable and undermines efforts to combat sexual assault on college campuses. These and the other wide-ranging harms of pornography should be addressed as a public health crisis at the Democratic National Convention.”

“I believe pornography today will follow the trend of the tobacco industry in public perception,” Hawkins continued. “Pornography today is pervasive and popular, similar to smoking in the 1950s, but as the harms become apparent, both the general public and elected officials will demand that a multi-disciplinary public health approach be implemented across the country to address it. I am calling on both the RNC and the DNC to endorse vigorous enforcement of existing federal obscenity law, and to make it clear that the inherently sexually exploitive pornography industry is inconsistent with American principles of human dignity and equality.”