Pornography hurts everyone in many different ways.
That’s the message 95 women, men and teenagers heard on International Women’s Day when two local churches, the RCMP and the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District screened the documentary Over 18 at Paradise Cinema and hosted a panel discussion.
Williams Lake Staff Sgt. Del Byron said it was an important issue that relates to police work in many ways.
“We do a lot of work in terms of child pornography,” Byron said.
In Over 18, the audience meets porn stars and directors, recovering porn addicts and people who are advocating to expose the usage and addiction of pornography.
One of those recovering addicts is 13-year-old Joseph who was first exposed to pornography on the internet while gaming when he was nine years old.
Justin Code is a youth worker with the Boys and Girls Club and said there are nine and 10 year olds in Williams Lake being exposed to pornography.
“Pornography can sometimes be boiled down to the individual experience — the secrecy and shame, but we need to address it as a community,” Code said.
Family nurse practitioner Sandra Lachapelle works at the TRU health clinic in Williams Lake and goes into the secondary schools with harm reduction co-ordinator Jordan Davis to teach sexual health.
“We need to talk to kids about pornography and make sure they have the tools to deal with things they might come across,” Lachapelle said.
“If you leave with nothing else today, leave with the idea to go and talk to your kids, find out what they are doing and what they have already seen because it is out there.”
Pornography perpetuates the myth that women secretly want sex even when they say no, Lachapelle added.
Davis and Lachapelle do an educational activity with students on the topic of domestic violence that includes a question in the top corner asking what is the best and worst thing about being a guy or girl?
“All those things get filled except the best thing about being a girl is left empty and it actually breaks my heart,” Davis said. “We need to encourage our boys to value women and see them as amazing, strong, very powerful beings. Until that changes this stuff is not going to change.”
Talking about sex and pornography is sometimes difficult for churches, Pastor Chris Harder said.
“It’s more than telling people it’s bad and just stop it. There is hope and there is a way out.”
Pastor Dan Smith said he has noticed that porn has become the educator.
“A lot of parents have waited to have the birds and bees talk but never got into what is normal in sexuality,” Smith said.
Pornography puts a lot of pressure on young people who are dating, Byron added.
“We don’t want that,” he said. “We want them to be healthy and have good dialogue long before anything else is happening.”
The evening raised $700 for the Boys and Girls Club, with the theatre donating the rental cost. After the event, many people signed a petition asking the House of Commons to adopt meaningful age verification on all adult websites.
The petition and others supports can be found at hopeforthesold.com.