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Full impact of Net porn still unknown, Utahn says

Orem therapist outlines harm to marriage, family

Jill Manning, third from left, testifies before the Senate subcommittee on Thursday.
Jill Manning, third from left, testifies before the Senate subcommittee on Thursday.
Jill Manning

Internet pornography is harmful to marriages, families and children, and it's time something is done about it, an Orem marriage and family therapist told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution in Washington, D.C., Thursday.

"Research reveals many systemic effects of Internet pornography that are undermining an already vulnerable culture of marriage and family," Jill Manning is quoted in a transcript of her testimony. "Even more disturbing is the fact that the first Internet generations have not reached full maturity, so the upper limits of this impact have yet to be realized. Furthermore, the numerous negative effects research points to are extremely difficult, if not impossible, for individual citizens or families to combat on their own."

Manning was in Washington, D.C., from April to August compiling social science data on how Internet pornography affects marriage and families as a research fellow for the Heritage Foundation, a national research and educational institute. She was invited by Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to testify at Thursday's hearing and report on her findings.

"The marital relationship is a logical point of impact to examine because it is the foundational family unit and a sexual union easily destabilized by sexual influences outside the marital contract," Manning told the subcommittee. "Moreover, research indicates the majority of Internet users are married, and the majority seeking help for problematic sexual behavior online are married, heterosexual males."

Manning, a doctoral student at Brigham Young University, also suggested four ways the U.S. government could take the lead globally in addressing the harm research shows Internet pornography presents to marriages, families and children:

Educating the public about the risks of pornography consumption.

Supporting research that examines aspects of Internet pornography currently unknown.

Allocating resources to enforce laws already in place.

Legally implementing technological solutions that separate Internet content, allowing consumers to choose the type of legal content they wish to have access to.

"I am convinced Internet pornography is grooming young generations of Americans in such a way that their chances of enjoying healthy and enduring relationships are handicapped," she said in closing.

Manning's review of the social science research on Internet pornography's effects will be published in the January 2006 issue of the Sexual Addictions and Compulsivity Journal.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com