Utah Conference to Focus on Porn 'Problem'

May 6, 2011 8:00 AM PST

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is worried about porn.

Citing an increase in porn in mainstream media and its proliferation among younger viewers, a coalition of anti-porn zealots in the state are mounting a continuing stand against adult entertainment. 

This past week, Utah Senator Orin Hatch ramped up his crusade against adult along with Moraility in Media to put pressure on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to start more porn prosecutions that included setting up a consumer action hotline.

And at its 10th annual conference coming up on May 7, the Utah Coalition Against Pornography  (UCAP) is seeking to raise awareness about the “seriousness of the porn problem” in the state.

The conference will be offering support and advice on porn addiction and how families can block adult material from entering their homes.

According to the Deseret News, the event will feature a host of anit-porn counselors, therapists, content-blocking software developers and business leaders including newspaper honcho Mark Willes, CEO of Deseret Management Corporation (which owns the Deseret News), and a member of the National Steering Committee for the Marriott School of Management at BYU. 

Pamela Atkinson, UCAP chairperson and member of the Deseret News Editorial Advisory Board said accessing porn is easier than ever but most young people think it’s harmless and don’t perceive it as a problem.

Atkinson also jumped on Hatch’s call for a national anti-porn coalition earlier this week and told the News that porn is not harmless and Hatch and her organization will be “going after it very aggressively.”

Commenting on the upcoming conference, Atkinson said, "We're going to be reminding people that this problem is growing, and how now it's hitting kids down into the fourth and fifth grades at this point. Our goal is to help families prevent pornography from becoming a problem in their homes, and give them resources and actual tools to help them combat this.”

Another speaker, Jeff Ford, a licensed marriage and family therapist will address how parents should talk to their kids about porn and not rely on technology like Internet and software filters that don’t offer enough protection.

"Relationships between parent and child become the most important thing — not technology," Ford said.

He continued, "The first thing that parents have to do is evaluate how they feel about individuals who look at pornography. Kids everywhere are being exposed to pornography at a high rate, if not habitually viewing it and forming an addiction. Parents need to approach the situation delicately, they need to figure out how to be more understanding."

The acceptance of porn, especially by someone’s romantic partner, is particularly worrisome to another conference presenter, Dr. LaNae Valentine, director of women's services and resources at BYU.

She claimed there’s too much acceptance of porn and it’s not OK to view it. "Ten years ago if you had a problem with porn you were looked at as a sexually deviant person. We've swung from thinking that these people are creepy deviants to thinking that porn is something people use to deal with difficult emotions," Valentine said.

Atkinson again blasted Holder and the Obama administration for the soft stance on porn and said, "We want to alert people about things like that at the conference. I'm always surprised at people who brush the issue aside, or say they think it's OK. We want people to understand what a terrible scourge this is in our society."

The News pointed to an incident where local elementary-aged students were able to access porn at school as evidence of a mounting problem in Utah.

It also lumped in a recent crackdown on child porn where the Utah Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested 39 men and put 114 others under close surveillance.

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