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Anti-porn conference heightens awareness

SANDY, Utah — Hundreds of Utahns — including numerous Latter-day Saint priesthood leaders — gathered Oct. 27 for the 7th annual Conference on Protecting Children and Families from Pornography and Other Harmful Material.

Sponsored by the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, speakers addressed topics including "Teaching Healthy Sexuality in the Home," "What Single People Need to Know about Pornography," "Suggestions for Ecclesiastical Leaders Encountering Pornography Problems," "Healing for Couples Dealing with Pornography," "Keeping Children Safe on the Internet," "Overcoming Pornography," and "Community Groups Working to Educate Parents and Youth Regarding Pornography."

Pamela Atkinson, president of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, said the conference, held in the South Town Expo Center in Sandy, Utah, and attended by more this year than any year in the past, was an outstanding success.

The objective, she said, was to heighten awareness and raise the conciousness that pornography "is here and growing, even in Utah."

Offering the keynote address at the conference, Ms. Atkinson spoke about alarming statistics.

For example, she said, pornography is a $97 billion industry worldwide; a $13.3 billion industry in the United States alone. "Kids as young as 11 years old are now exhibiting behaviors and using language that tell teachers they are on the Internet, watching pornography at home." And, she noted, that the words "sex and pornography" are typed into the Internet "by more Utahns than by any other state in the country."

Go home and tell five to 10 neighbors, friends and colleagues about "this dreadful scourge" and its impact on society, she told those attending the conference.

"We are hoping to create an awareness that a crisis is looming in this area and that we are not prepared for it," she told the Church News. The goal is to educate people on how to prevent pornography use in their homes and to provide tools and resources to help people who have already been impacted by the epidemic.

Most alarming, she said, is the problem with child pornography. Child pornography doesn't just victimize a child once. It victimizes children over and over again, as their images are repeatedly viewed. And because of the growing trend of child pornography, "all children are being victimized as sexual objects," she added.

Ms. Atkinson said as people fight pornography they will save families. "We want to make people aware of how pornography can break down relationships, particularly family relationships," she said.

• In coming weeks, the Church News will publish articles highlighting additional sessions from the conference.

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