Survey: Prepubescent porn exposure has doubled in a generation

by Evan Wilt
Posted 1/22/16, 01:40 pm

A new study shows childhood exposure to pornography has doubled in a generation, and porn usage and addiction reaches far into Christian churches.

“Pornography is not relegated to any particular community, socio-economic class, or religion,” said Haley Halverson, director of communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE). “Thanks to the internet, it’s really everywhere,”.

On Tuesday, Barna Group released preliminary findings from comprehensive research on American pornography consumption. Barna’s research revealed 27 percent of millennials ages 25-30 reported seeing porn before reaching puberty. Compared with the Generation X cohort, early porn exposure has doubled in a generation.

NCOSE officials said early exposure to porn is particularly harmful because it shapes the sexual template of young people as they learn about sex.

The study used a wide-ranging, nationally representative sample of nearly 3,000 participants in four online studies. Barna also conducted in-depth surveys looking at American teenagers, Christian pastors, and churches.

In the report, seven in 10 youth pastors said a teen had come to them in the last 12 months seeking help with porn. With that said, 21 percent of youth pastors and 14 percent of all Christian pastors reported currently struggling with porn themselves. More than 66 percent of teens and young adults reported sending or receiving sexually explicit images.

Barna’s research also looked into thoughts and attitudes surrounding porn consumption. Many Americans viewed “not recycling” as more immoral than viewing porn. And most Americans had become desensitized to adult content: Only 10 percent of teens and 5 percent of young adults had a negative view of pornography, according to the survey.

“This research is confirming the fact that the vast majority of Americans are being affected by pornography, and it is something that needs to be addressed on a public level,” Halverson said.

Covenant Eyes, one of America’s largest internet accountability and filtering providers, helped fund the research. Ron DeHaas, the president of Covenant Eyes said that after 16 years of combatting porn, nothing in the report caught him by surprise. But putting hard numbers to the problem is an important step.

DeHaas explained many people do not realize how widespread the usage of porn is in the United States, and those who do don’t view it as a harmful activity. The survey included more than 800 pastors across many different Christian denominations. Of those surveyed, 73 percent of pastors said they felt somewhat prepared to help someone deal with a porn addiction. But only 7 percent of churches actually had a program dedicated to the ministry.

“The churches themselves need to have awareness and then the understanding so we can have more programs dedicated to fighting pornography,” DeHaas said.

Evan Wilt

Evan is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Washington, D.C.

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  • Timmons's picture
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:18 pm

    Dear Hans,In some cases, sure, I bet immodesty leads to pornography.  But I doubt most porn addicts start that way.  At the same time, immodesty feeds other problems like sexually aggressive girls, tattoos, and casual sex.That's why I like Dannah Gresh.  She wrote "Secret Keeper: the Hidden Power of Modesty" and "And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity."  She also spoke at Cedarville University, and the chapel video is on the Cedarville website.  Gresh honestly addresses issues like "It's really the guy's fault for not getting his brain right" and the level at which girls value themselves when they dress and behave immodestly.  She speaks about modesty from a biblical worldview and completely revolutionized the way I perceive modesty.Dannah Gresh says stuff worth sharing.

  • Hans's picture
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:18 pm

    I remember when Brett and Alex first put together the modesty survey, and I think what struck me the most about it was the fact that the young men whom they surveyed were turned on by...everything. For example, is a woman wearing a purse over her shoulder immodest? No, obviously not. But I guess the way that it accentuates her chest apparently can be a real turn on to hormonal teenagers. Is wearing a shirt with a logo on the top half immodest? No, but apparently if a teenager reads the words or looks at the picture, suddenly he is fantasizing about what's underneath the shirt. So unless we want to go the fundamentalist Islamic route and start having women dress in burkas, I think that this whole conversation moves us in the wrong direction.I am extremely wary of the modesty culture in American evangelicalism because of the way that it shifts responsibility from the male to the female. If you take the article from Psychology Today seriously, then men are automatically prewired to view women as sexual objects. If that's true, though, put the responsibility on the men for getting their brains under control. It is not that difficult. The fact is that pornography is an automatic draw to men (and many women). You don't have to attempt to tie it loosely to a supposed decline in modesty standards. Internet pornography is a particularly strong scourge because of its ready availability. You don't need immodest dress to make kids sexually curious; on the contrary, apparently we all prewired for that. The biggest problem is that it's just not that hard for a curious kid to type something into Google and be immediately immersed in a flood of pornography, and then once they've found it, they're hooked on the titillating rush. I don't think that it makes any sense to paint the picture of the typical decent into porn as a gradual erosion of moral standards. So yeah, I don't think that modesty has anything to do with it at all.

  • JerryM
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:18 pm

    Dear Hans,Certainly not awesome but, you're right, I don't have any scientific evidence of a direct link.  Nevertheless, I would argue there is a good degree of common sense in arguing for such a link, supported by sufficient indirect evidence.  Here's a small sample of indirect evidence: (summarizes prior research) (not scientific and heavily criticised by some, but still interesting)

  • Hans's picture
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:18 pm

    Awesome unsubstantiated claim there, iron man.

  • JerryM
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:18 pm

    We foolishly and habitually neglect one of the antecedents to viewing pornography: immodest dressing.  In my experience, it is rife in churches-even among leaders.  

  • Buddy's picture
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:18 pm

    80% of babies aborted in the U.S. are from unwed women (Statistical Abstract of
    the Unites States).