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Pornography Education Pilot Project Launches in Taylorsville

Andrea Smardon
An Eisenhower Junior High School student takes a quiz as part of a "Fight the New Drug" presentation.

Students at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorsville got an unusual lesson Monday. The children heard a presentation about pornography. The assembly is part of a pilot project organized by Salt Lake County to educate kids and parents about the dangers of what some are calling the “new drug.”

Junior high students in Utah are not used to hearing about pornography in school. When Eisenhower’s principal announced the topic, the students began talking nervously amongst themselves. But when Clay Olsen, founder of the non-profit Fight the New Drug, came on stage, he had their attention.

Through stories, videos, and graphics, Olsen explained that pornography can be addictive, and that it harms relationships and society in general. Olsen told KUER that because of the taboo nature of the topic, children don’t get enough information about it. And the world has changed since their parents were children.

Credit Andrea Smardon / KUER
Students sign a pledge to "be a fighter".

“Pornography is everywhere today,” Olsen said. “These kids are inundated with sexualized media, messages, and misunderstandings about love and intimacy and sex. We wanted to be out on the forefront of helping kids understand what the real dangers are when it comes to science and facts and what research is showing us today. We think that’s information that they need in today’s society.”

Olsen says the vast majority of children will have viewed pornography by the time they graduate high school. And most are introduced between the ages of 8 and 11. At the end of his presentation, Olsen asks the students if they will fight the new drug. A majority raise their hands.

Salt Lake County Councilor Aimee Winder Newton says a private donor is funding the presentations at schools around Taylorsville. It’s a pilot program to see if this is something they want to take countywide.

“From the administrators and other people who have seen the assemblies, they’re thrilled,” Newton says. “We’ve had a lot of parents who are really excited about it. We haven’t had any pushback… but this is new.”

A presentation for parents will take place at Taylorsville High School Tuesday at 7pm.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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