October 21, 2016 • Volume 26, Issue 37
Does it pose a public health crisis?
By Sarah Glazer


Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs a state resolution on April 19, 2016, declaring pornography a public health crisis that is contributing to “dissatisfaction in marriage and infidelity” and the normalization of violence against women. The Republican Party platform contains a similar “public crisis” declaration. Some social scientists and porn defenders say, however, the concerns are overblown and lack evidence of harm to society. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Pornography websites attract millions of users each month, reportedly more than either CNN, Amazon or Twitter. A recent phenomenon, “tube” sites, is competing with the traditional porn industry by providing large amounts of free pornographic content from amateur or pirated videos. Because the sites are easy to access through computers or cell phones, children can view hard-core, often violent, content that gives them a warped view of sex, say parents and some social scientists. Critics describe a porn-induced public health crisis that is contributing to divorce and normalizing sexual violence against women. But with rape, divorce and teen pregnancy at historic lows, other social scientists and porn defenders say these concerns are overblown and lack evidence of harm to society. Meanwhile, civil liberties activists criticize some child advocates' solutions, such as requiring websites to verify the age of users, as violating adult users' free-speech and privacy rights. So far, the Supreme Court has agreed, striking down previous congressional efforts to restrict internet access.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sexual Behavior
Feb. 22, 2019  Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Apr. 28, 2017  Sports and Sexual Assault
Oct. 21, 2016  Pornography
Apr. 15, 2016  Decriminalizing Prostitution
Oct. 31, 2014  Campus Sexual Assault
Apr. 27, 2012  Sexual Harassment
Jan. 22, 2010  Sex Scandals
May 23, 2008  Prostitution Debate
Nov. 04, 1994  Sex on Campus
Jun. 11, 1993  Prostitution
Jul. 13, 1984  Sexual Revolution Reconsidered
Aug. 25, 1971  Legalization of Prostitution
Apr. 01, 1970  Sexual Revolution: Myth or Reality
Dec. 30, 1963  Sex on the Campus
Consumer Behavior
Men's Health Issues
Movies and Entertainment
Supreme Court History and Decisions
Women's Health Issues
Workplace Safety and Worker's Compensation