The opening scenes of an ABC News segment last week introduced clean-cut Nathan Hague, a 17-year-old from Alpine, Utah, who walks his family dog, is working on his Eagle Scout award, serves on the student council, swims on his high school’s swim team and is active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And for years, Nathan also had an addiction to pornography.
“I felt like every day I was just incomplete, like there was a whole chunk of me missing, like a hole in my gut that just wasn’t there,” Hague said in the ABC segment titled "Generation XXX: Teens addicted to porn." “Whenever I was in a church activity, I felt like I couldn’t fully participate, I felt like I couldn’t be honest with people, and I wanted to honestly get to know other people. And that built into the secrecy even more because now instead of lying about the actual act, it was also putting on a mask.”
According to the ABC clip, studies show that children begin viewing pornography as young as 8 years old, and that seven out of 10 teens are accidentally exposed to porn online.
“A lot of times, the pornography becomes a coping style, it becomes a way they deal with negative emotions in their life. Pornography provides a euphoria, it provides a high,” said psychotherapist Matt Bulkley in the ABC clip. “I think we’re at the front-end of it. I think in the next five to 10 years as this rising generation moves into adolescence, I think we’re going to have an epidemic.”
The segment shows representatives of a non-profit group called Fight the New Drug (FTND) addressing an assembly of high school students about the damaging effects of pornography. The reaction to the group's message confirms the pervasiveness of pornography among youths.
“After pretty much every assembly we do, I have probably two or three, sometimes four, different teenagers coming up to me and telling me their story of how they are currently addicted,” Clay Olsen, founder of Fight the New Drug said in the clip.
FTND's mission is to combat the growing acceptance of pornography.
"When the majority of individuals in a community accept pornography as normal and harmless, then it becomes embraced as a welcome fixture in society," it reads on the FTND website. "To a degree this has already happened, the consequences of pornography have become worse and more widespread. The 'fight' that FTND aims to mobilize, is simply to educate others about the true effects of pornography, in a way that calls and gathers those willing to stand against the mass acceptance of the material."
A new act in the United Kingdom aims to crackdown on children’s exposure to pornography by making Internet users “opt in” to view it. By default, the UK Internet providers will block pornographic content.
“Not long ago, access to the Internet was mainly restricted to the PC in the corner of the living room, with a beeping dial-up modem, downstairs in the house where parents could keep an eye on things,” British Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted as saying the The Daily Mail. “I’m not making this speech because I want to moralize or scaremonger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come. This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence.”