- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 25, 2009

Second of two parts

If there’s one thing about college that shouldn’t be surprising, it is that vast numbers of students have pornography in their living quarters and on their computers.

Why not? Higher education intends to stretch minds, so censorship is to be avoided at all costs. And it’s not as if young people haven’t seen pornography before — surveys show that many U.S. children first encounter adult sex materials online while they are young, i.e., in elementary school.

But spending years in a pornography-friendly environment doesn’t benefit career-minded students, says Michael Leahy, a recovering sex addict and author of “Porn @ Work: Exposing the Office’s #1 Addiction.”

Easy access to a high-speed, wireless Internet that (usually) is unregulated, uncensored and unmonitored is “the antithesis of what you find in a typical business environment,” he writes.

College students are going to get a “real shock treatment” when they go to work for employers who have a zero-tolerance policy on porn, Mr. Leahy told me. “What’s going to happen when these two worlds collide?”

Having escaped a 30-year pornography habit, Mr. Leahy founded www.bravehearts.net in 2002 to sound the alarm about the encroachment of adult materials in American life.

RELATED STORY:
WETZSTEIN: Workplace porn wastes time, cash

Between 2006 and 2008, he gathered responses from some 26,000 college students and 2,000 college staff who took an online survey about their sexual views and behaviors.

He found that 64 percent of males regularly viewed online pornography, as did 18 percent of females.

He also found that a significant minority of respondents (26 percent of men and 18 percent of women) were already struggling to stop their sexual behavior, even when they knew it was “inappropriate.”

Some of these troubled men and women will join the estimated 6 percent to 8 percent of the population considered to be full-blown sex addicts, Mr. Leahy said. However, a more common scenario will be that men and women will try to hide their pornography habits, both at home and at work.

Working in the computer industry is especially risky for people with porn problems, said Mr. Leahy, who was once an IBM executive. Since computer experts “set up all the firewalls and filtering, they know all the back doors,” he said. But “they have no accountability — and they have no way to be held accountable — because they know all the tricks.”

Mr. Leahy recommends that business leaders face the reality that, since the mid-1990s, young people have “been raised on perhaps the most explicit and habit-forming types of pornography known to man.”

Having employees sign an Internet Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that forbids online pornography, exchange of lewd photos and obscene jokes, and storage of adult materials on company equipment, on pain of termination, is not enough, he said. Employee education and awareness training about Internet pornography and sex addiction will help employees understand warning signs and open the door for conversations about the problem.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) should include referrals to sex-addiction counselors and 12-step programs, just as they do for substance abuse, Mr. Leahy said. For people in recovery, EAPs can help negotiate temporary limits on computer access at work and “accountability partners” who get summary reports on a person’s computer activity.

To me, the country, as with other sex-related issues, is caught in a passive-aggressive cycle over pornography. We demand freedom of expression and loosen boundaries in one setting — and have no freedom and huge walls in another.

With its powerful leverage, the American business world can help sort this issue out, and none too soon. As Mr. Leahy warns, “for every employee who surfaces and is exposed as a violator of our sexually related company policies and Internet AUPs, I can assure you that there are 10 others hiding in our hallways and operating under the radar yet to be discovered.”

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide