Utah has a new public health crisis, one so pervasive that you- yes you- are at risk. It’s insidious. It’s probably already infected your browser’s favorite’s tab. It’s… it’s…
On Tuesday the state of Utah officially declared porn a public health crisis. Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution calling porn a “public health hazard”. Though nonbinding, the resolution calls for research into policies and education necessary to eradicate this “pornography epidemic that is harming the citizens of Utah and the nation.”
“We realize this is a bold assertion not everyone will agree on, but it’s the full-fledged truth,” Herbert tweeted on Tuesday.
— Eddie Coffey (@eddiefcoffey) April 20, 2016
The legislature has passed the state House and Senate unanimously. However, don’t panic, it doesn’t outlaw porn or have any real impact.
According to Utah Public Radio, there are some legitimate concerns over porn’s role in society.
“The resolution makes way for a multifaceted approach to solving this crisis, said Pamela Atkinson, the chair of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography board.
“She said the state is worried about 82 percent of sex offenders who started off by viewing pornography.
” ‘They acknowledged they got involved with simple — or soft core porn — years ago,’ she said. ‘It’s not so satisfying anymore and that’s when they move on to the hard core porn. When that is not satisfying any more, they act out on real human beings. They objectify children and young women.’ “
Specifically, the resolution has outlined a number of possible “individual and public health impacts and societal harms” that it blames on pornography. NPR notes that this includes:
- Low self-esteem and body image in adolescents, who, according to the resolution, are exposed to porn at an average age of 11-12
- The hypersexualization of teens “and even prepubescent children”
- The normalization of violence, abuse and rape
- An increase in the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution and child pornography
- The objectification of women, which “teaches girls they are to be used and teaches boys to be users”
- Impacts on brain development and functioning, including “deviant sexual arousal” and difficulty forming relationships
The resolution also claims that porn might be “biologically addictive, which means the user requires more novelty, often in the form of more shocking material, in order to be satisfied.” Some studies seem to back this claim. On the other hand, there are a number of scientific studies that claim that the opposite is true of porn.
A 2009 study notes that Utah had the highest rate of porn subscribers compared to any other state.
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