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Laramie County lawmakers sponsor resolution declaring pornography addiction "health crisis"

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle - 2/2/2018

Feb. 02--CHEYENNE -- Several Laramie County representatives are among Wyoming lawmakers sponsoring a resolution that would declare pornography a public health crisis.

The resolution finds that pornography exposure is biologically addictive and leads to a variety of personal and societal harms, including abuse of women and children. It calls on the state to recognize pornography consumption as a health crisis, with a perceived need for preventative education and policy changes in local communities and the state.

Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, said he was quick to get on board with the resolution led by Rep. Lars Lone, R-Cheyenne, because he's long seen pornography as a crisis.

"It's highly addictive, it's highly controlling, it's destructive to families," Olsen said. "I have, fortunately, in my life been involved in family, in work, in church. But I have seen, across all those avenues, families destroyed because of it, careers destroyed."

Rep. Jim Blackburn, R-Cheyenne, is the third Laramie County sponsor.

The resolution isn't meant to lead to any regulation of commerce or the internet, Olsen said. While it could potentially lead to state funds going toward prevention in some form -- Olsen said he doesn't have a particular endgame in mind at this point -- its primary purpose is to raise awareness that might lead to families having discussions with their children about the matter.

"I don't think it's the proper role of government in schools to talk about these types of things, whether it's smoking or drugs or pornography, but in the end, if that's the only way we can reach children, then that's the route we have to go," Olsen said. "I would prefer to see families, churches and other organizations stepping up to the plate to bring awareness and help educate."

Olsen can't point to a particular study or scholarly article that outlines all of the resolution's findings, but he said he has spoken to care providers and seen news that led to those conclusions.

"If anyone does a simple Google search, they'll start to see plenty of science that is developing in this area," Olsen said.

A 2015 journal article on the U.S. National Library of Medicine in the National Institutes of Health, "Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction," concluded that internet pornography addiction fits into the addiction framework and shares similar basic mechanisms with substance addiction.

Rom Reedy, program director at Peak Wellness Center in Laramie County, said he tried to find reputable local statistics to support or refute the resolution's conclusions, but was not able to do so.

"There's all kinds of anecdotal (information), just not statistical," he said.

For Olsen, it doesn't take having academics or scientists weighing in for him to believe pornography addiction is a crisis.

"I don't know that you need a Ph.D. or an M.D. to help you understand that it's a problem," he said. "It's pretty obvious for anyone who has seen their family or friends or people in their church affected by it. It's real, and you can tell when families are falling apart because of this stuff."


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