One reality that keeps rearing it’s ugly head as I complete research for our Digital Kids Initiative is the pervasive presence of pornography in today’s world. It’s a growing issue for men, women, and children. Way back in 1996, the U.S. Department of Justice issued this statement: “Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions.” That was 15 years ago. The Internet has grown. Access to computers has increased. And sadly, the online pornography industry has either kept or set the pace.
Statistics are hard to nail down. What we did know back in 2006 was this. . . every second there were 30,000 Internet users viewing pornography. Seems a bit low. There were 4.2 million pornographic websites, or 12% of all Internet content was pornographic. Again, sounds low. And every day, there were 68 million search engine requests for some type of pornography. Probably a bit low compared to what will happen today. Experts say that pornography addiction is driven by three factors: it is accessible, it is anonymous, and it is affordable. Sadly, the average age of first exposure to pornography is 11. I’m guessing that as the years advance, that number will go down.
A youth worker friend recently told me that he no longer looks at his middle school boys and asks them if they are struggling with pornography. Rather, he looks at them and tells them that he KNOWS they are struggling with pornography. Never has a kid challenged his assumption.
As I’ve continued on in my work in the area of youth culture and digital kids, I’m increasingly convinced that 1) this problem is only increasing, and 2) we need to be aggressive and proactive in shaping responses that are prophetic, preventive, and redemptive. The immediate and long-term fallout is going to be beyond anything we can dream or imagine.
If you are a youth worker, parent, pastor, teacher. . . or just someone who realizes how vulnerable both you and the kids you know are to this stuff, let me point you to three of the best resources I know. Consider this a starting point. . .
First, I want to encourage you to visit, bookmark, and favorite the website for HarvestUSA. Please check out the HarvestUSA website now. There are some great resources for you to access, use, and pass on.
Second, I want to recommend with urgency that you pick up a copy of Tim Chester’s book, Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free. We are so excited about this book that it is our featured resource this month at CPYU. If you choose to secure your copy through us, you will be supporting our ministry.
And third, I want to invite any of you who live in our Central PA neighborhood to join us on November 8 for a one-day training seminar for youth workers, pastors, parents, and pregnancy center workers: “Life Up Close – How To Challenge Teens to Embrace Sexual Integrity.” During the day, Jason Soucinek will train you in how to talk to children and teens about sexuality. You can learn more and register here.