Pornography and addiction in US Colleges

Pornography should be a national concern, but Catholic colleges especially can lead the way.

A survey finds that 77% Christian men look at porn at least monthly, and 36% look at porn daily while about 33% Christian women view pornography monthly.   

By Nazarul Islam

Benedictine College has implemented a successful program to combat pornography use by students.

The liberal arts school, located in Atchinson, Kansas aims to prevent pornography use and offers support to students with an addiction and encourage chastity, the dean of students recently told The College Fix.

“Pornography is ubiquitous in the US culture and the statistics for those who have been exposed to it prior to college or who are viewing it regularly are staggering,” Dean of Students Joseph Wurtz said. “For those of us who believe that pornography is a problem of epic proportion, we are doing our best to care for our students,” Wurtz told The Fix via email.

“With respect to Christian men between 18-30 years old, 77% look at porn at least monthly, and 36% look at porn at least daily,” the Barna Group, a Christian polling group, found in a 2014 survey. About 33 percent of Christian women in the same age group view pornography monthly, according to the survey commissioned by Proven Men, an anti-porn group.

The university’s approach is not only a ban on accessing porn on the school’s network but includes a holistic approach such as homilies at Mass, therapy options, recovery groups and yearly programming.

The effort began in 2018 when Benedictine formed a committee of counselors, religious leaders, and residence life staff to form a strategy to combat pornography usage among the student body.

The interdepartmental endeavor has also included presentations on addiction and accountability, recovery groups, student and faculty training on how to promote chastity, Mass and Confessions dedicated to addressing pornography and free Covenant Eyes memberships for students.

Wurtz told The Fix that the school gives out 200 Covenant Eyes subscriptions, free of charge, to students each year.

The software program monitors Internet content and reports usage to an accountability partner and is popular among people trying to break pornography addiction.

These options are promoted primarily through the offices of College Ministry, Residence Life and the Counseling Center.

The Catholic college’s work has drawn the attention of a national Catholic education organization.

“Benedictine’s approach follows extensive research showing that, in order to overcome addiction and dependency, students greatly benefit from group therapy, an accountability partner and counseling,” Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, wrote recently in the National Catholic Register.

The Cardinal Newman Society is a nonprofit that promotes authenticity and faith at Catholic universities. It had previously praised Benedictine’s efforts in its guide for universities that want to combat porn usage.

“What most caught our attention about Benedictine College’s efforts to combat porn on campus is how comprehensive it is, involving leaders across the campus,” Reilly told The Fix via email.

“Blocking porn on the college network sends a clear message and is the right thing to do at every college,” Reilly said “but Benedictine does so much more to address the human temptations that lead to viewing porn and the struggles of students who are addicted to it.”

Both secular and religious institutions have good reason to follow Benedictine’s lead, the Catholic education group leader said.

“While a Catholic college has its religious and moral beliefs that motivate anti-porn efforts, any college should be concerned for students’ wellbeing,” Reilly said. “Students who are addicted to porn and unable to have genuine human relationships are going to experience anxiety and self-loathing, hindering their focus on education.”

Reilly warned that pornography can be a distraction from studies and campus life.

“It may help to explain how the porn industry does great harm to women’s dignity and participates in human trafficking,” Reilly said, when asked how secular universities could combat porn usage.

“Pornography should be a national concern,” Reilly said, “but Catholic colleges especially can lead the way.

Is this the right thing to do?

Nazarul Islam

The Bengal-born writer Nazarul Islam is a senior educationist based in USA. He writes for Sindh Courier and the newspapers of Bangladesh, India and America. He is author of a recently published book ‘Chasing Hope’ – a compilation of his 119 articles.

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