Lawmakers listened to moving testimony about the dangers of pornography from law enforcement officers, doctors, and individuals damaged by its effects during a Senate hearing on March 16.
Rep. Randy Powell, an Olathe Republican, spoke personally about its dangers.
“I am someone who has been personally impacted in my past by the addictive power of pornography,” he said in written testimony to the committee. “In my recovery, I have worked with many teenagers and young men in fighting to overcome the grip of pornography addiction.”
Legislators are considering a resolution that would deem pornography a public health crisis. If adopted, Kansas would join three other states–Utah, South Dakota, and Virginia–that passed measures.
“I know situations where pornography addiction has cost men their marriages, respect of their children, loss of jobs and loss of freedom because of imprisonment,” he said.
The addiction is similar to drug addiction, because viewing pornography interacts with brain chemistry, Powell said.
Addictive drugs, alcohol, and pornography all flood the brain with dopamine, a feel good chemical.
Michael Schuttloffel, the executive director of Kansas Catholic Conference, said it’s past time policy makers consider how pornography is deleterious to the common good.
“Society has laws against prostitution, because it recognizes that even if consensual, some sexual activity is fundamentally exploitative and demeaning and should be proscribed,” Schuttloffel’s written testimony reads. “It should be remembered that pornography, too, is a business where sex is for sale and human dignity is trampled upon.”
Pat Colloton, Kansas’ assistant Attorney General, told the committee pornography is a gateway for demand for sex trafficking.
“Some victims are trafficked specifically for the use in the production of pornography,” she said. “Additionally, according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, traffickers show pornography to sex trafficking victims to train them and desensitize them to sex acts they will be forced to perform.”
She said trafficking victims are often filmed without their consent and their videos end up online. Johnson County Sheriff Major Michael Pfannenenstiel and Sgt. Chris Evans called such instances “never ending victimization” as videos are shared and viewed over and over again.
“Our experience has repeatedly shown a connection between sexually-related crimes and the collection of pornographic material,” the officers said in written testimony.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office created a special unit to investigate the solicitation of minors via the internet in 2005. Between 2006 and 2012, the unit conducted 100 investigations. In 95 percent of those cases, they found adult pornographic images and videos.
Colloton said the ease and convenience of the internet makes distribution and consumption of pornography easier than ever. She cited National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center learned that 19 percent of identified offenders had images of children younger than 3 years old, 39 percent had images of children younger than 6 years old, and 83 percent of offenders had images of children younger than 12.
Today, child pornography is the focus the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office special unit, and officers have conducted 160 investigations.
“Again, the results were the same. Not only was child pornography discovered, but other pornographic material was located,” Pfannenstiel said.
Steve Brunk, a former state legislator and now the policy director for the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, told the committee they didn’t need to rely on the weight of scientific research to know pornography is bad for Kansas.
“You know it when you see it,” he said “…Pornography is harmful. The science says so, and so does common sense.”