Glendale High School Quill Springfield, Missouri

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Access to adult material acts as a drug on teenagers' brains and relationships.

Today's society is driven by who has the best body and appearance and even younger children are struggling with self image.

Roni Norbury

Today's society is driven by who has the best body and appearance and even younger children are struggling with self image.

Bethany Gott, Reporter

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You are doing an innocent search on the internet for a class project and an advertisment for an X-rated site pulls up. It’s shocking, but this is the gateway for something that could be considered a new drug for teens. Pornography is a growing topic in today’s society. It is a lot easier for adults, teens and even children to have access to pornography with all the new technological updates.
“When I was growing up, in order to view pornography, you had to get out and go to a store that you probably weren’t even old enough to go into, and then when you got the magazine or whatever you got, you had to hide it from your parents,” Rachelle Colegrove, Missouri Certified Marriage and Sex Therapist said. “Nowadays, you are able to be anonymous. You can have access to pornography without even leaving your room. No one knows.”
Easy access to pornography has far reaching effects that can be subtle.
“Our whole culture in general is so open about having sex that it affects everyone whether they realize it or not,” Colegrove said. “Movies you see, or books you read, the TV shows you watch usually are sexually oriented. I think as our culture has evolved, we have devalued personal relationships.”
To this day, it is well known that human beings suffer when they’re deprived of love and affection. When a pornography user is viewing porn, they might feel love, but after it’s over, they have no human connection.
“Pornography provides a false sense of intimacy for people,” Colegrove said. “Real relationships take work. It takes time to get to know people, to learn to be vulnerable, and to learn to work out problems. It’s also a false sense of being loved. It’s all fake because it’s staged. Just an act on a screen.”
With how much technology has evolved, it has made getting certain information very accessible, but it has also opened a pathway for more exposure to teens and younger kids.
“The average age of when kids first start viewing porn is eight years old,” Colegrove said. “Most of the time it is on accident. An ad will pop up and they’ll click on the ad or video or whatever it is, out of curiosity. When a video is playing, people will tend to click on it to see what it is. That’s why Facebook has their videos running all the time. Now, everywhere you go, instead of seeing children with a toy, you see them with a device,” Colegrove said. “Our brains are slowly being rewired to become more visual.”
Inside the human brain there’s the Ventral Tegmental area- also known as the “reward pathway”. Its job is to release pleasure chemicals when you do or see something that feels good. The problem with the “reward pathway” is that it can be hijacked. Substances like cocaine and meth make users feel high by forcing the reward pathway to release very high levels of pleasure chemicals-viewing porn can release the same kind of chemicals.
“One of the biggest things I see in my work is that when people have viewed pornography since they were young kids, they have a real inability to connect with humans in a live setting,” Colegrove said. “A child can really be affected throughout their whole life because of this bad addiction.”
Theresa Miller, Springfield Public Schools Director of Health, Physical Education and Driver’s Ed believes that there has been progress made in the last few years in expanding students’ knowledge on the topic.
“I think that we have made a dent in letting students understand the legal consequences that comes along with pornography and topics surrounding it, but we still have a long ways to go,” Miller said.
In high school health classes, it is required for students to learn about mental/ emotional health, personal health, family and social health, the environment, safety and prevention, drugs/ alcohol/ tobacco, growth and development, nutrition and diseases.
“We don’t really talk about pornography specifically,” Miller said. “What we do teach is how to be safe on social media and how to stay away from exposing yourself. Students need to understand what they’re dealing with both legally and personally.”
Improvements in Missouri law have encouraged teachers to teach on the matter of Internet safety.
“There is actually a new law that says that teachers must teach students to be safe and responsible with Internet use and how to deal with dangers such as sexual predators,” Miller said. “Students are able to be put in danger through text message, phone calls, Facebook, Instagram, really any social media.”
Greg Askew, IT Infrastructure manager for SPS, talks about how Springfield Public Schools works to prevent students from looking up inappropriate things on Chromebooks.
“All of our Chromebooks have an extension that directs all traffic through “Securly” [www.securly.com],” Askew said. “The site is CIPA, Children’s Internet Protection Act, compliant which is a federal statute that we must follow. Mainly, we must do our very best to protect students from sites that are deemed inappropriate.”
Some sites that are originally blocked on Chromebooks do end up having to be unblocked for research purposes.
“Since Securly is CIPA compliant, we largely rely on their database of sites to block,” Askew said. “That being said, we frequently unblock sites that have been requested either from students, teachers or administrators.”
Whether it be at home, in school or in a public place, anyone has access to pornography at anytime.
“Pornography is a huge topic,” Colegrove said. “Anyone who has a cellphone or a screen, has the ability to view it.”
Accountability is the first step when fighting against a porn addiction. Be honest with a mentor about what you’re struggling with. Next, make sure you’re educated about how it affects you not only neurologically, but also physically.
Today’s generation is facing the problem of pornography that our world has never seen. It is a drug that people only get a temporary high from. It ignores what people are really like and strips them down to just flesh.

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Glendale High School Quill Springfield, Missouri
Porn