LDS men launch youth anti-pornography campaign
Fight the New Drug aims to educate people--especially high school students--on the truth about the addictiveness of pornography.
You don’t drink it. You don’t inhale it. And you can’t inject it. But scientific evidence is beginning to show what general authorities have been saying for years: pornography can be as addicting as any drug--and just as harmful. Wanting to stop the spread of this addiction, four Utah State University graduates launched an anti-pornography campaign to educate youth about the addictive effects of pornography.
Founded in January 2010, the organization Fight the New Drug aims to educate people that pornography has the same effects on the brain as substance addictions like alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs. According to an article on the organization’s website, “viewing pornography tricks your brain into releasing the same pleasure chemicals that drugs do,” eventually building up stronger and stronger desires for the counterfeit relationships pornography provides.
Clay Olsen, one of the founders of Fight the New Drug, said getting the truth about pornography to youth is a major goal of the organization.
“We felt strongly that if youth just knew the harmful effects and the consequences of pornography . . . that many would choose to avoid it,” Olsen said.
Although all four founders of Fight the New Drug are Latter-day Saints, the foundation is not a religious campaign. Instead, the founders hoped the focus on science would reach a broader audience and encourage discussion about the evidence that pornography is an addiction. Olsen stressed that religious groups like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been essential in the fight against pornography but Fight the New Drug aims to approach the issue from a different angle and open the conversation to people of all beliefs.
“It doesn't matter what set of beliefs you subscribe to, what political background you support--this in an issue that goes beyond those things,” Olsen said. “This is an issue that affects everybody.”
Because the issue is so important, Fight the New Drug has three main ways of spreading the message about the new drug: its website, high school assemblies, and college chapters. The website contains videos and articles about the topic and a place for visitors to sign up to become “a fighter,” someone who will actively stand up against pornography and spread the truth about the new drug.
Olsen and his colleagues at Fight the New Drug have already presented their message in three high school assemblies, and they have plans for more in the upcoming school year. While many of these assemblies will be in Utah, schools in both Louisiana and New York have expressed interest.
During the high school assemblies, Olsen worried that teens would not take the issue seriously or even want to discuss the taboo topic. As it turned out, most in the audience responded positively to the presentation (a video portion of which can be viewed online) and loved the scientific approach.
“It's cool to see young kids get excited and passionate and want to talk about a topic that nobody wants to talk about it,” Olsen said.
High school students are not the only young people with a passion for fighting this new drug. College chapters of Fight the New Drug were actually not launched by the organization itself. Rather, college students contacted the organization wanting to start campus campaigns of their own.
“We are a very new campaign, and so to have that kind of support already, we are very happy about that,” Olsen said. Currently, there are five college chapters of Fight the New Drug with at least seven more to launch in the next few months.
But no matter how it spreads the word about pornography as an addiction, Fight the New Drug is dedicated to making a difference in the fight against pornography.
“Stop being naive and stop swishing this heavy, heavy issue under the rug,” Olsen said. “We've got to address it for what it is, even if that means having a potentially difficult and challenging conversation.”