Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and longtime anti-porn crusader Sam Brownback, R-Kan., are two primary backers of the bill, which would earmark $90 for a research study on how the barrage of media children encounter every day shapes our culture.
At a press conference to announce her support for the measure, Clinton referenced a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation that claimed 70 percent of children between the ages of 15 and 17 have accidentally viewed porn online and that 23 percent have done so on multiple occasions. She also pointed to another finding that nearly a third of teens admitted to lying about their age to access adult sites.
“This is a silent epidemic of media desensitization that teaches kids it’s okay to diss people because they are a woman,” Clinton said.
“We are causing long-term public health damage to many, many children and, therefore, to society. If there were an epidemic sweeping through our children… we would all band together and figure out what to do to protect our children. Well, this is a silent epidemic.”
The bill has received an enthusiastic response from the Parents Television Council, the same organization that pushed for hearings to force the music industry to carry warning labels on CDs with explicit lyrics.
“There are a lot of gaps in our knowledge about how kids are affected by the media, and I think it would be useful to fill in some of those gaps,” Melissa Caldwell, director of media research for the PTC, said. “In particular, there’s been some research, but it’s very limited, into how kids are affected by being exposed to sexual images in the media.”
PTC President Brent Bozell said he hopes that the backing of Democratic senators, especially those typically thought of as being socially liberal, will send a message to the gaming and Internet industries.
“When Hillary Clinton is scolding you in the headlines, maybe it’s time to shape up,” Bozell said.