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Orem therapist to present porn findings

Family expert to address a Senate subcommittee

Jill Manning
Jill Manning

Jill Manning spent five months in Washington, D.C., earlier this year compiling social science research on how Internet pornography affects families and marriage.

Today, the Orem marriage and family therapist is back in the nation's capital to present those findings in a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.

Manning will be one of three witnesses during the hearing titled "Why the Government Should Care About Pornography: The State Interest in Protecting Children and Families." Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., will be chairman of the hearing, which is scheduled to begin at noon MST.

"It's a very exciting day; it's an important day," Manning said. "This is the first time in history that the issue of pornography has been handled (in the Senate) in the context of marriage and family."

Typically, the Senate has addressed pornography as a very individually focused topic, she said.

"This is the first time we're looking at pornography (and asking), 'How is this impacting marriages and families?' "

That question was the focus of Manning's work from April to August, as a social science research fellow in domestic policy for the Heritage Foundation, a national think-tank organization. Her work attracted the attention of Brownback, who in October invited her to testify at today's hearing.

"All summer long, I compiled the most current review of social science research on this topic," said Manning, a doctoral student at Brigham Young University. "I will be doing a review of the social science data that pertains to the impact of Internet pornography on marriage and the family."

Among the themes Manning said she plans to address will be Internet pornography's direct impact on children, its indirect impact on children and its impact on marriage. She'll also present the subcommittee with a 62-page document that reviews each of the studies on which her findings are based. Those findings will be published in the February 2006 issue of the Sexual Addictions and Compulsivity Journal.

"Never before has pornography had such a close proximity to the home and work environments," said Manning, who works as a family therapist at the Telos Residential Treatment Center in Orem. "Because of that, it's impacting families and marriages in an unprecedented way."

Manning said she's "delighted" that the effect Internet pornography has on families and marriage is getting attention in the Senate.

"The U.S. right now is one of the largest producers and consumers of pornography globally," she said. "So the U.S. government can really take a unique lead in this issue."

There are problems with Internet pornography that everyday citizens can't solve by themselves, Manning said.

"Research funded by Congress (in 2003) was able to show that sexually explicit material on the Internet is very intrusive," she said. "So even the families that are diligent about protecting themselves, they need some help. This cannot be done just by individuals choosing not to be exposed. It's too intrusive."

Also testifying will be Pamela Paul, author of "Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Families," and Richard R. Whidden Jr., executive director and senior counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families in Fairfax, Va.

Shortly after the hearing, all three testimonies are expected to be posted online at brownback.senate.gov and www.heritage.org.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com