Teens and tweens — and even those who are too young to be an ‘een at all — are falling prey to a new drug, one that they can access free, at their fingertips on their cell phones or by hitting the button on their TV remote.
It’s called pornography — and the “new” drug is more insidious, more dangerous and even more mind-altering than many of the chemicals kids have used for “cheap thrills” in the past.
I know. I sound like my mother. She clicked her tongue at the first two-piece bathing suit she saw. And, well, it’s true. I am old. I grew up way back when you could turn on the television and see people fully dressed, both feet on the floor and sitting around the dinner table together. Judging by the fact that I’m of the “Lassie” and “Mickey Mouse Club” generation, you may think that I’m merely out of touch with what is as fashionable and fun. I will admit that those early sitcoms I sat through were a bit elementary in terms of technical quality. Many were even in black and white and their situations would seem a bit blasé today — a far cry from the “living color” seen in both the amount of flesh tones and the “colorful,” and not so comedic, reality TV.
Yet, at the risk of merely sounding prudish, it’s not my age — nor my penchant for fun — that has turned me into somewhat of an alarmist. No, it’s something else that got my “blush meter” moving and my grandparental concern at an all-time high. I read the statistics, and they’re ones that should alarm us all.
Ninety percent of 8- to 16-year olds have viewed porn online — and most of those say they had done so when they were supposed to have been working on homework.
Another statistic: Children exposed to pornography are more likely to engage in sexual activity at younger ages.
And, then there’s this one: Forty million Americans regularly look at pornography.
Need I go on? It’s staggering. And, sickening.
One Valley organization, well aware of the dangers, is determined to make a difference. The Arizona Family Council will hold its “Families Fighting Pornography” Conference on November 2 from 9 a.m .to 12:40 p.m. at the San Tan Elegante Conference Center in Gilbert.
The conference is open to the public, and for the $10 price of a ticket (or $15 at the door), a parent could very well change the course of a child’s entire future. In fact, the title alone of one of the sessions is instructive. One particular workshop will be presented by Clay Olsen, Executive Director of Fight the New Drug, and is called, “What Teens Wish Their Parents Knew About Pornography.”
Interesting. Perhaps there is a teen to two — or 2,222 — who are crying for some help. Want some direction. Would love to know how to escape this new drug they’re becoming addicted to.
The conference offers some ideas for that as well. A panel will share “Computer and Online Safety Tips” and Dan Oakes, therapist, educator and writer, will explain “Signs of Addiction and What to Do About It.”
Opening the day’s sessions will be Monica Cole, national director of One Million Moms, speaking to the topic, “The Sexualization of Media and What You Can Do About It,” and the conference will end with well-known parenting speakers and authors Richard and Linda Eyre.
For more details, or to register for the conference, go to: theazfamilycouncil.org.
If you’re interested, but can’t attend that day, check out the website anyway — there’s “Resources” tab with Tips for Parents and a Reading List.
• Cecily Markland has more than 20 years experience as an editor, writer, project manager and journalist. A Mesa resident, she is the managing editor for The Beehive newspaper, serving Arizona’s LDS community, and a regular contributor to the East Valley Tribune.