Should pornography exposure by parents be weighed in court?

Nov 12 2013 - 1:37pm


Utah state Senator Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross
Utah state Senator Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Davis County lawmaker thinks exposing a child to pornography should be a factor courts can weigh in looking at parental rights issues.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said he has been trying to address the problem of parents deliberately exposing children to pornography and said he is not ready to criminalize the behavior, but is introducing legislation to have it weighed by courts as one of many factors a judge can consider in a custody case.

He told a legislative committee what he hopes to address with the legislation during a meeting on Tuesday. The bill is still being drafted.

"We'll look at situations where we'll evaluate parents. We're inserting the intentional exposure to pornography as an additional factor to see if a parent is qualified to keep children," Weiler said.

Weiler ran a resolution in 2013 addressing exposure of minor children to porn, which detailed the harmful effects of pornography on the brain development of a child. He said the resolution evolved out of a bill trying to address the issue more seriously. He said the bill hit some roadblocks and dead ends and he said his new bill simply switches gears, in addressing the issue.

The Davis County lawmaker cited the work of Dr. Jennifer Brown in leading the crusade on strengthening anti-porn laws. Brown, a Layton dentist, has pushed for the state to stiffen laws on how much of a naked body can be shown in widespread advertisements and other prevalent media.

In committee testimony earlier this year, Brown claimed exposure to sexually explicit images for a young child causes the brain of the minor to release various hormones and neurotransmitter compounds in excess. She said that can lead to decreased functioning of the brain for the child in regard to self-control, emotions and goal-setting abilities.


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