Planned Parenthood Web Site Promotes Porn to Teens

July 7, 2008 - 7:06 PM

(Editor's note: Contains quoted passages that some readers may find offensive.)

(CNSNews.com) - Teenwire.com, the Planned Parenthood Web site that says it was created "to provide medically accurate sexual health information for teens on the Internet," is advising teens that viewing pornography is a normal and "safer" way of enjoying sex.

In a 2007 article, "Birth Control Choices for Teens," the writer for the Planned Parenthood site tells readers about "Outercourse."

Under the subtitle, "lower-risk forms of outercourse," in addition to kissing, masturbation, erotic massage and body rubbing, or frottage, is "fantasy."

"Many couples can read or watch sexy stories or pictures together," the article states. "They can also share or act out sex fantasies. People do it in person, on the phone, surfing the Internet or through e-mail instant messaging."

Another advice piece, "Porn vs. Reality," warns that federal law makes it illegal for anyone under 18 to view pornography; "however, not everyone follows the rules, and you may run across some porn before you turn 18. There are a few things you should know about the images you might see. First of all, many people enjoy pornography alone or with a partner as part of sex play. People have different ideas of what is arousing, and there are many different kinds of porn that appeal to people's different interests."

On the Web site's "Ask the Experts" page, young readers pose questions about pornography.

"Dear Experts," one young reader wrote, "I look at porno sites but I got all A's for my subjects. People say looking at those sites affects your school work, but since I think I'm not affected, should I stop it? If I should, how?"

The answer given by teenwire.com experts includes the advice that "many people enjoy using pornography as a part of their sex play -- alone or with a partner." And "there is no correlation between using pornography and getting bad grades in school."

The experts also told a young male viewer of pornography that masturbating while looking at pornography was not cheating on his girlfriend.

Repeated requests for interviews with Planned Parenthood and teenwire.com staff by Cybercast News Service were not answered.

Cybercast News Service
sent links to these pages on teenwire.com to experts to ask if they thought the content on the Web site was "medically accurate," if it promoted the viewing of pornography by teens, and whether or not being exposed to sexually explicit material as a teenager or younger can be detrimental.

Cris Clapp, congressional liaison for Enough is Enough, a nonprofit group that works to protect children and families from online pornography, said the site sends the wrong message.

"Although teenwire.com does make the point that pornography is illegal in the United States for people under 18, and although the editors mention that some may struggle with compulsive access to this content, overall teenwire.com has painted a picture that pornography is harmless fun," Clapp told Cybercast News Service.

Clapp added that a recent study by the University of New Hampshire showed that 42 percent of Internet users ages 10 to 17 had seen porn over the course of a year. Also, pornography online goes far beyond the stereotypical Playboy or Penthouse type images to include graphic content, including virtual sex parties and violent sexual images, she said.

Clapp cited the testimony before Congress on Nov. 10, 2005, of Jill Manning, author and marriage and family therapist.

"Children and adolescents are considered the most vulnerable audience of sexually explicit material," Manning testified.

"Youth are considered a vulnerable audience because they: (a) can be easily coerced into viewing pornography or manipulated into the production of it; (b) have limited ability to emotionally, cognitively, and physiologically process obscene material they encounter voluntarily or involuntarily; (c) can be the victims of another's pornography consumption in ways adults are often more resilient to; (d) can have their sexual and social development negatively impacted through exposure to fraudulent and/or traumatic messages regarding sexuality and relationships; and (e) can develop unrealistic expectations about their future sexual relationship through repeated exposure to fantasy-based templates. For these reasons and others, it is illegal to knowingly display or distribute obscenity or pornography defined as harmful to minors," she testified.

"However, this legal reality is rapidly losing momentum as widespread availability and accessibility of pornography normalizes illegal exposure," she added.

Access to teenwire.com only requires anonymous registration for some of the interactive parts of its site, but most content can be accessed by any user of any age.

Robert Weiss, executive director of The Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, told Cybercast News Service that while the medical content on teenwire.com is accurate, it is vague in other important issues.

"The information in the link, while accurate, could do more to address how the viewing of erotic material can affect intimacy and relationships," Weiss told Cybercast News Service, adding that if teens looking at the site have younger siblings, children much younger than 13 could gain access to the site.

Weiss also said his answer to the teen concerned about cheating on his girlfriend while masturbating and viewing pornography would not be the same as the one teenwire.com experts gave.

"Yes, it's cheating if it is a secret hidden from your partner," he said. "Especially if it takes time, emotional energy, and sensuality away from an intimate relationship and the other person doesn't know why or what is going on."

Perhaps the most dramatic case of the damage pornography can apparently cause to some individuals was revealed when James Dobson of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group, met with serial killer Ted Bundy the day before he was executed on Jan. 24, 1989.

Bundy, who killed at least 28 females, including the 12-year-old girl whose death led to his arrest and conviction, requested the interview with Dobson.

"As a young boy of 12 or 13, I encountered, outside the home, in the local grocery and drug stores, soft core pornography," Bundy told Dobson, adding that "the most damaging kind of pornography - and I'm talking from hard, real, personal experience - is that that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces - as I know only too well - brings about behavior that is too terrible to describe."

Bundy said he didn't blame pornography and took full responsibility for the brutal rape and murder of more than two dozen women, but he said it is a contributing factor that caused him and other violent offenders' to act out.

"I'm no social scientist," Bundy said, "and I don't pretend to believe what John Q. Citizen thinks about this, but I've lived in prison for a long time now, and I've met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography - deeply consumed by the addiction."

Victor Cline, a psychoanalyst and professor emeritus at the University of Utah, said in a 1999 paper, "Treatment and Healing of Pornographic and Sexual Addictions," that, "In over 25 years I have treated approximately 350 males afflicted with sexual addictions (sometimes referred to as: sexual compulsions).

"In about 94 percent of the cases I have found that pornography was a contributor, facilitator or direct causal agent in the acquiring of these sexual illnesses," he wrote.

"Patrick Carnes, the leading U.S. researcher in this area, also reports similar findings. In his research on nearly 1,000 sex addicts as reported in his 'Don 't Call it Love,' he stated: 'Among all addicts surveyed 90 percent of the men and 77 percent of the women reported pornography as significant to their addiction," Cline added.

In its explanation of its purpose and mission, teenwire.com experts say they encourage parents to get involved in their children's sex education but that they know how difficult it can be for parents to talk to kids about sexual matters.

Clapp said parents are making a big mistake.

"Unfortunately, parents are outsourcing their responsibility to talk to their kids about healthy sexuality to teachers, the culture and sites like teenwire.com, without any understanding about the sort of misguided messages that our children are hearing," she added.

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