‘Sex Sells, But at What Cost?’ on ABC’s 20/20

Joanne Cachapero
NEW YORK — ABC’s news show 20/20 will feature a segment focusing on the debate about what effect exposure to sexual imagery and content has on American culture. The segment will be hosted by anchorman John Stossel, and will air Friday night at 10 p.m. EDT.

In an article posted on ABC.com, Stossel posed the question, “Sex today seems to be everywhere. It's certainly more present in the public square than before.

“But how big a problem is this? When I was growing up, many people believed that sex must be kept out of sight, because it would corrupt the minds of children and lead to sexually deviant behavior,” Stossel added.

Representing the conservative viewpoint, Family Research Council Vice President Peter Sprigg said that exposure to sex has had a detrimental affect on American society, including children being over-exposed to adult themes, increased rates of sexually transmitted diseases, unwed pregnancies and single-parent households.

Pointing out the easy availability of sexually themed content available to children in mainstream entertainment, Sprigg said, "The intention is clearly to bring up this sexual desire, and I don't think that's beneficial for our society.

“[Children] are being exposed to sex and to talk about sex, before they're even old enough to even think about having sex," Sprigg added.

Sex therapist and sociologist Marty Klein, who is the author of “America’s War on Sex,” also will be featured in the segment, and said, "There are groups of people out there who are devoted to scaring the heck out of Americans about sexuality. It makes some people feel good because they say, 'Aha, there's the enemy and if only we could do something about that, everything would be better.'"

Statistics will be shown indicating that while exposure to sex has increased, rates of rape and teenage pregnancy have dropped, which may prove Klein’s contention that while sexually themed content may be offensive to some, it is not dangerous, as is often claimed by conservative religious groups.

However, Sprigg will argue that stronger regulations are needed on pornography in order to protect children from being exposed.

For more information, visit the ABC website.