Porno damages growing teen brains

Concerned parents learned about the dangers of pornography during a presentation by “Fight the New Drug,” held at The Highlands School in Las Colinas on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Fight the New Drug is a nationwide non-profit organization teaching both teenagers and adults about the harmful effects of pornography. The group uses scientific evidence and peer studies to show how viewing pornography affects the brain and rewires a person’s desires, as well as how it affects relationships and contributes to human trafficking and the sexual exploitation industry. The group also helps teenagers who are struggling with pornography through their Fortify program, a free online recovery program created specifically for teens.

Craig Bakker, a Fight the New Drug speaker, explained pornography mainly affects a person in three ways: their brain, their relationships, and the world as a whole. One of the reasons pornography is difficult to give up is because of how it affects your brain, specifically the ‘reward center’ of the brain.

“When you view pornography, dopamine and serotonin and oxytocin go back and forth through the neural receptors in your brain,” Bakker said. “When people look at porn, it turns on the rewards center of the brain. Because the material is sexualized, [the brain] releases a higher level of dopamine, and you end up having to want more of it next time. Then you want it more often, and then you want the more hardcore version.”

Bakker added it’s more damaging for teenagers to view pornography, as their brains are still developing.

“It becomes more difficult when you’re a teen,” Bakker said. “When you get exposed to these things younger and younger, it starts becoming your biological preference. If you’re eight or nine, and you get exposed to this before there’s even that level of understanding, it’s going to biologically change your preferences like dynamite.”

Bakker stressed pornography now is far more violent and degrading than it used to be, and it also has a negative impact on how people view others, particularly women and victims of sexual violence in real-life.

“Porn is sexist, and it’s degrading,” Bakker said. “If anybody believes in women’s rights, they should be in the anti-porn movement, because porn is anti-women. When men watch it, when women watch it, they start to treat others unfairly, and they start to treat themselves unfairly.”

Dr. Michael Pennell, principal of The Highlands School, said the school invited the organization to speak on this topic not because pornography is an issue at the school, but an issue in society at large.

“This is something we’re thinking about, because it’s a problem in our culture and may or may not be a problem in our families. It’s something we want to be attentive to,” Dr. Pennell said. “It’s a very sensitive topic. It’s something we don’t particularly like talking about but to be attentive to these things is very important, because when you read stories on the Internet about these sorts of things, you get a little bit worried about what’s going to happen to children when they get into high school and college, and they have a level of freedom and access to information that they didn’t have before.”

Bakker ended the lecture by encouraging parents to have honest and open conversations with their kids about pornography, and to be supportive of those who are struggling with pornography addiction.

“If you know someone who is struggling, you should embrace the concept of recovery,” Bakker said. “We should embrace the concept of loving those who struggle. Too often, those who struggle don’t want to talk about it, because they’re going to be shamed, they’re going to be judged, and they’re going to feel terrible. Chances are, they already feel bad. But if you’re able to give them loving, open arms and say ‘I’m here for you,’ they’re going to open up more and you can help them on the right path.”

About the Author

Ariel Graham
Ariel Graham is a freelance reporter and blogger. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Media & Communication in December of 2011. Prior to moving to Dallas, she worked for AM 790 KFYO in Lubbock, Texas, as a commercial voiceover actress, board operator, and producer for “Lubbock’s First News” & “The Chad Hasty Show.” She also wrote a weekly technology blog “The Geek Girl Report,” as well as various news stories and podcasts for the station. She is currently working on her new blog “Super Geek Girl Report,” and in her free time, she enjoys drawing, video editing, and playing video games.