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JACKSON, Mississippi (LifeSiteNews) — Mississippi is one step closer to prohibiting access to digital pornography through public libraries and the Internet in general after the state House of Representatives passed legislation on March 8.

Mississippi representatives amended a state Senate bill that allowed for civil action against entities that “distribute material harmful to minors without performing a reasonable age verification to verify the age of individuals attempting to access the material.”

The amended version “include[s] bans on ‘obscene’ and ‘sexually oriented’ digital materials in libraries. It does not include physical books,” the Mississippi Free Press reported.

The legislation also includes important anti-grooming provisions that restrict public school employees for exposing minors to sexual content. “The bill prohibits public-school libraries for K-12 students and public libraries that serve adults and children alike from contracting with vendors for ‘digital or online resources’ that violate the State’s pre-existing legal definition of ‘sexually oriented materials,'” the Free Press reported in its analysis.

The Senate and House versions must now be worked out before the bill can be finalized and sent to the governor.

Current state law defines “sexually oriented” to include content that “contains representations or descriptions, actual or simulated, of masturbation, sodomy, excretory functions, lewd exhibition of the genitals or female breasts, sadomasochistic abuse (for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification), homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, sexual intercourse, or physical contact with a person … for the purpose of sexual stimulation, gratification or perversion.”

The legislation lists numerous consequences of exposure to pornography.

The list includes the “hyper sexualization of teens and prepubescent children and may lead to low self-esteem, body image disorders,” “an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages, and increased desire among adolescents to engage in risky sexual behavior,” and “[d]ifficulty in forming or maintaining positive, intimate relationships, as well as promoting problematic or  harmful sexual behaviors and addiction.”

A homosexual advocacy group came out against the anti-porn and anti-grooming law.

“I think that for youth, young people, the schools, the libraries should be a safe place, and any attempt to scale back crucial information, certainly around sexual orientation, is dangerous,” Human Rights Campaign Mississippi executive director Rob Hill told the Mississippi Free Press. “Kids need to see themselves represented in materials, and these attempts don’t make school libraries safer; they make them more harmful, specifically for LGBTQ kids.”

The exposure of kids to sexual content, particularly in schools, is one way that pedophiles groom kids for abuse, according to a recognized expert on the subject.

Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Charol Shakeshaft wrote in a 2021 academic paper that “personal disclosure of adult sexual activity and preferences, and questions to students about their sexual lives” are considered “red flag grooming behaviors.”

“Grooming is rarely perceived as a violent act. Instead, it consists of actions that bond the target to the offender such as time spent together, secrets, gifts, special attention,” the paper states.

Pornography remains a growing problem among kids, as the ease of access through phones, laptops, and tablets makes it more likely kids will face sexual content.

A 2018 Missouri resolution acknowledged the harms of pornography as well. The resolution declared that porn “perpetuates a sexually toxic environment” and “may contribute to the hypersexualization of teenagers, and even prepubescent children, in our society,” as previously reported by LifeSiteNews.

The resolution stated that the internet has accelerated children’s exposure to increasingly “hardcore” material at younger ages. This “may serve as children’s and youth’s sex education and may shape their sexual templates,” which “can lead to low self-esteem and body image disorders, an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages, and an increased desire among adolescents to engage in risky sexual behavior,” and harm the ability of individuals to form healthy, faithful relationships later in life.