In attempts to raise awareness about online pornography, the War on Illegal Pornography, a coalition of more than 50 national and state groups founded by Morality in Media, will host its first online conference via its Facebook page on Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. Among the topics a three-person panel will discuss are the pornography pandemic and its relationship to sex trafficking, effects on marriages and the need to prosecute obscene hardcore adult pornography. The lineup will include professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island, Dr. Donna M. Hughes, senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.; Dr. Patrick Fagan and Robert Flores, former administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the U.S. Department of Justice in D.C. and former deputy chief prosecutor in the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, respectively.  

The coalition’s response to an increasing but disturbing trend arrives at an opportune time. According to technology news site gizmodo.com, 12 percent (24,644,172) of websites are pornographic, 25 percent (68 million per day) of all search engine requests are pornography-related, 35 percent of all Internet downloads are pornographic and nearly 40 million Americans are regular visitors of porn sites. The site also reports that the average child is exposed to online pornography at just 11 years old and Internet pornography in America alone reels in close to $2.84 billion per year, a staggering statistic considering the worldwide industry is worth $4.9 billion.

“The numbers are big, the change is huge and the effects are bad,” said Fagan.

“ wrecks marriages, it totally alters sexuality, it essentially makes men less potent, it makes men and women less capable of living with each other and it leaves children parentless, fatherless particularly. All indications are things are getting worse, they’re not getting better. There’s not a single good that comes with this stuff and there’s a host of evils.”

As a former prosecutor of child exploitation, Flores believes that this week’s conference will go a long way in securing the protection of children. The direction of his discussion this week will focus on the need to prosecute offenders, keeping them as far away from adolescents as possible. Using race as a defining factor, Flores agrees that the increasing need for minority parents to work long hours in a downtrodden economy leaves their children vulnerable to online pornography predators while they’re away.

“You have a lot of parents who are desperately working hard,” Flores said. “A lot of parents are working two jobs who’s at home with the kids with all this technology? It raises some very significant issues in the minority community. I think over time you’re going to see more and more minority kids swept up in this.”

Flores added, “In my days as a prosecutor, the defendants were almost exclusively White and the victims were also more often than not White. I think now you’re going to have a situation where the minority community is really going to get socked by it because they may not be as well-resourced to protect their kids and that’s really unfortunate.”

For more on the War on Illegal Pornography visit www.moralityinmedia.org. To join Thursday’s discussion visit www.facebook.com/PornHarms.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO