The South Dakota Catholic Conference supports passage of House Bill 1257, a measure that would require websites containing material harmful to minors to implement age verification procedures to prevent access by those under the age of 18.
The Church teaches that pornography “does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2354).
The impact of pornography on minors is especially concerning. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in their pastoral statement Create in Me a Clean Heart, addresses these harms:
“Being exposed to pornography can be traumatic for children and youth. Seeing it steals their innocence and gives them a distorted image of sexuality, relationships, and men and women, which may then affect their behavior. It can also make them more vulnerable to being sexually abused, since their understanding of appropriate behavior can be damaged.”
The USCCB has exhorted Catholics to “work together for laws and for a culture that remove pornography from its prominent and privileged place and counter its numerous injustices…” HB 1257 contributes to this goal by preventing young people from being damaged by harmful materials on the Internet.