Governor signs anti-pornography bills declaring public health crisis

Utah is leading the national fight against pornography, becoming the first state to declare it “a public health hazard” in a resolution signed by Gov. Gary R. Herbert Tuesday morning.

“Pornography is a public health crisis.” Gov. Herbert said. “The problem is rampant, yet it thrives in secrecy and silence. Today’s bills will start an open discussion, bringing its very real dangers to light.”

In a packed ceremony with anti-pornography advocates and national experts, the governor signed S.C.R. 9 and H.B. 155. The first is a resolution that declares pornography a public health hazard and recognizes the need for increased education and research. The second requires computer technicians to report when they find child pornography on a work computer or be guilty of a class B misdemeanor. The bills were sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler and Rep. Craig Hall, respectively.

The governor hopes that S.C.R. 9 will encourage parents to have conversations with their children about the harmful effects of pornography and increase awareness of the health risks associated with this rampant problem.

Some schools in Utah have already chosen to host assemblies to teach youth about the addictive nature of pornography, similar to the way they are instructed about the harms of abusing drugs and alcohol. The governor commended these schools for taking action to educate and protect Utah children.

National experts and advocates including Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Clay Olsen, CEO of Fight the New Drug, Brian Willoughby, P.h.D., and Assistant Professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, Pamela Atkinson, Board Chair for the Utah Coalition Against Pornography and Dr. Jennifer Brown, an advocate and concerned mother, presented their research and outlined next steps for the fight against pornography during the press conference.

The statistics for pornography use in the U.S. are staggering. A recent headline announced that “Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.”

“The fight is one we can win,” Gov. Herbert said. “But it begins with turning the light on the unsavory reality, which is what today’s bills will do.”

Watch the press conference here.

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