Conferences in San Diego tackling issues of pornography

An anti-pornography conference came to San Diego on Oct. 8-11, hosted by the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families.

The four-day run consisted of two conferences, “Achieving Relational and Sexual Wholeness” and “Developing a Winning Strategy,” both sponsored by the National Coalition.

“The San Diego conference was fine,” said Tina Prout, the administrative assistant for the National Coalition. “It went off without a hitch.”

According to Prout, who has worked on several conferences, the San Diego conference was unique in that it combined two conferences together. Each of the four days saw an increase in attendance from about 70 attendees on Wednesday to about 130 on Saturday. Prout said that more people attended than normal because there was more “networking” this time, especially with radio interviews with speakers.

Cliff Jones, who served on the local Conference Steering Committee, also felt that the event ran smoothly, contributing to what he called, “…a very good conference.”

The Oct. 8-9 speakers addressed the conference’s topic of “Developing a Winning Strategy,” focusing on what people can do to combat illegal pornography and sex-oriented businesses.

More people attended the Oct. 10-11 “Achieving Relational and Sexual Wholeness” conference, which provided a variety of speakers and topics addressing issues including Sex and Porn Addiction, Incest and Sexual Abuse, Homosexual Recovery and Assisting Spouses and Loved Ones.

Kathy Fondacaro, the director of communication for the National Coalition, likened the four days to “Drinking from a fire hose. There was a lot of information.” The National Coalition’s goal was to bring the issue of pornography into the open.

“It’s not the kind of addiction or crisis that is easy to discuss,” said Fondacaro. “It is easier to say that one is an alcoholic rather than a sex addict or a child molester.”

Jones echoed similar thoughts, saying that, “…it is an issue that people really don’t want to deal with. They either say, ‘I don’t have a problem’ or are too embarrassed to admit it.”

Aaron J. Reinicke, director of Reinicke Counseling Associates and a marriage and family counselor, agrees that facing the issue is difficult, but that those addicted to pornography need to get help from someone with similar experiences who can help them.

He has seen the long-reaching effects of pornography and believes that it is a larger problem than given credit for.

“Soft-core porn can be a gateway to hard-core porn,” Reinicke explained. “Not always, but it is progressive: one thing leads to another, getting deeper and darker…Men have lost families and jobs because of their addiction.”

In an effort to fight pornography and its effects, the National Coalition has initiated a Strategic Cities Project, with a goal of setting up local coalitions in 15 cities in the next five years. For now, they have selected four cities: Memphis, South Bend, Fairfax and San Diego.

Demographics played the leading role in choosing the cities, as well as the chance for improvement. Fondacaro does not plan on eliminating pornography, but rather to make more people aware of pornography’s harm and see it as unacceptable.

“When we’ve researched cities and found problems, pornography is always there,” she explained. “There were more social diseases, crime, lower standards of living and failing businesses in areas with sex-oriented businesses.”

Currently, the National Coalition is presenting the Strategic Cities Project as a developing program, with hopes that in five years, it will be able to go independent.

So what can people do? The National Coalition, which focuses on protecting children, warns parents on the harms of the internet, suggesting the use of filtering software to limit access to known pornography sites, placing the computer in a public area and stressing that parents spend time with their children.

Reinicke named support groups, churches and counseling centers as options, but said that people need to ultimately form an accountability structure that doesn’t just change behavior but gets at the root of the problem.

“I have done a lot of work with sex offenders,” Reinicke said. “There is nothing that the grace of God…cannot heal…There is hope but it takes time and work.”

For tapes of the workshops in the conference, call 5-Star Conference Recording and Duplicating at 1-800-350-TAPE. The National Coalition can be reached at 513-521-6227. Reinicke Counseling Associates can be reached at 619-298-8722.

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