As an attorney for the US Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), my daily work includes deporting aliens who
sexually abuse minors, either physically or vicariously through child
pornography. ICE both removes alien sexual predators and prosecutes
citizens who prey on children. The scope of the problem is enormous.
Since ICE’s inception on March 1, 2003, we have arrested over 5500
sexual predators.

What moves someone to sexually exploit a child? Thomas Aquinas, one of
the great moral philosophers in the Western tradition, stated that
impurity can lead to violence. Many contemporary religious and social
critics would similarly assert that pornography facilitates sexual
violence. Does social science bear this out?

In November 2004, the US Senate Committee on Commerce heard testimony
from a number of doctors, therapists and researchers who have studied
the effects of pornography. One
witness testified that pornography “increases the likelihood of sexual
addiction… Sexual addicts also develop tolerance and will need more
and harder kinds of pornographic material.”

ICE has arrested hundreds of persons in the US for possessing and
distributing child pornography. Some of those arrested included a 7th
grade teacher, a chief of paediatric medicine at a large hospital, a
police officer, a minister at an all-girls school. How many of these
people began by viewing adult pornography? How many of these people,
looking for new and more exciting images on the internet, quickly
descended into child pornography?

During the Senate hearing, another witness discussed a study involving
men and women who regularly viewed non-violent adult pornography. The
results demonstrated that “those who use pornography were found to be
more likely to go to prostitutes, engage in domestic violence, stranger
rape, date rape, and incest.” Such prolonged exposure also resulted in
viewers who “trivialised rape as a criminal offence,” and “trivialised
non-violent forms of the sexual abuse of children.”

Another witness commented that “children who have porn-viewing fathers
complain that when he looks at them it feels ‘creepy… The parental
gaze has become the porn gaze.” In deporting alien sexual predators who
abused their teenage daughters or female relatives, its been my
experience that pornography often fed the fire of desire towards their
children.

Adult pornography is certainly not the only cause of sexual violence.
And many who view adult pornography may never physically exploit a
child (although with the relative ease to view child pornography via
the internet, many viewers of adult internet porn may sink into child
porn). But the act of viewing pornography is certainly exploiting those
featured in the pornography. Persons become mere objects to satisfy
one’s sexual pleasure.

Moreover, due to the demand for “adult” entertainment, sexually
exploited children often continue down the path of further exploitation
in the sex industry. Another witness stated that “they work in the porn
industry with its physical invasion and visual invasion because it
feels like home.”

All this points to the need to reduce the toxic effects and broad scope
of adult pornography and sexually oriented businesses in our
communities. For example, companies with investments in pornography can
divest from such holdings, and their stockholders should insist they do
so. Churches should also recognise that some of their members suffer
from addictions to pornography, and provide compassionate outreach to
help them. Parents should exercise extreme vigilance so that their
children’s use of the internet does not become a portal to sexual
depravity. And each of such should make a personal choice to struggle
against the allure of pornography.

Shakespeare perhaps described lust best as “the expense of spirit in a
waste of shame; Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme.”

Adult pornography can and does lead to more extreme and violent forms
of pornography. While ICE can and does prosecute citizens and remove
aliens who engage in such criminal activity, we must all fight against
what causes it.

Paul Hunker is Chief Counsel of U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement in Dallas. He graduated from Georgetown University Law
Center in 1992, and is a resident of Dallas, Texas. The opinions
expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect those of ICE.