A special school for boys addicted to pornography has been established in a former church building in Utah, USA. At the Ox Bow Academy, boys addicted to online pornography are weaned off their addiction with a regimen of daily chores and therapy.
Many parents lament the ready availability of online pornography and its damaging effects on young people. The Oxbow Academy is a "desert boot camp," a rehabilitation center where teenagers whose lives are troubled by online porn may find help. According to Daily Mail, Ox Bow Academy building is a converted church with two large dormitories containing bunk beds.
Mirror reports that the school, popularly called "porn school," opened in Wales, Utah, seven years ago. For many, the pioneering establishment is an urgently needed response to the growing problem of the negative impact of online pornography on impressionable teenagers. Observers say that easy availability of online porn is exposing teenagers to new challenges.
Ox Bow Academy director Stephen Schultz, laments the increasing sexualization of society: “Sex is everywhere. When I was growing up if someone said they were bisexual it was shocking. Now threesomes and depraved sexual behaviour is all over the Internet and children see those images before they develop into adolescents.”
A young porn addict tells of how he got addicted to porn. His story illustrates how young people are getting exposed to pornography even before they develop into adolescents: "I was shown porn at 10 by my babysitter. My cousin was babysitting and I came in when he was watching porn on TV. It was pretty hardcore stuff and I'd never seen anything like it. He let me watch too. It became an issue when I was about 13 and around girls at school. I found myself thinking about those images and I started searching out online porn... I wanted it more and more. Whenever I had a free moment I'd find a way to be alone so I could watch porn. It seemed out of my control... Looking back, it was really twisted. My concentration at school was affected too. It degrades everyone, the people who make it and the people who watch it. I am so glad I don't have it in my life any more."
Parents worried about their porn obsessed children pay as much as $9,000 a month to get help for them. Mirror reports that Ox Bow now has about 24 boys aged 13 to 17. According to Mirror, the school director Stephen Schultz, says some of the boys were brought to the academy after they had moved from merely watching porn to acting out scenes they see online, such as molesting other children. Some of the boys have been arrested and are awaiting sentence.
According to Schulz, porn addiction is like heroin abuse. He said: “Most porn addicts get agitated when they’re deprived of their online sources. But one boy from Chicago actually got the shakes, like a drug abuser. He was in very poor shape when he arrived. He’d been on his computer 10 to 12 hours a day looking at porn. He wasn’t eating, he was dehydrated, had poor hygiene. He’d done nothing but watch porn.”
Schultz says that they treat porn addiction at Ox Bow Academy with a strict daily routine that begins at 6 a.m. The boys get out of their bunk beds, take a shower and breakfast is served. Although the center has a full-time catering staff, the boys are required to wash up after meals and do their own laundry at weekends.
The boys have therapy sessions in the mornings. Their parents are required to join in the sessions via Skype once a week. Parents are also invited to two-day seminars every few months.
After lunch, the boys take what is termed "holistic therapy," that includes horsemanship, art and music. Later in the afternoon, they are taken by bus to a second campus where they take school lessons. At the school, every pupil has access to a computer but Internet access is limited to encyclopedia pages.
Classes end at 9 pm after which the boys are allowed to hang out briefly at the communal meeting room.
Mirror reports the boys are given therapy assignments to help them tackle their sexual problems. The boys are required to stay for a minimum of three months, but most remain at the school for a year and some have finished their high school education at the academy.
Schultz gives some insight into the psychology of porn addicted teenagers and approach to therapy at Ox Bow: “Teenagers who have indulged in inappropriate sexual behaviour have a sense of shame and will not admit everything they’ve done.The teenager holds his cards close to his chest. Over the first 90 days we get them to start putting those cards on the table... Part of their course work is a full sexual disclosure paper – a big questionnaire asking about everything they have done. They start to open up more and more. If they disclose something criminal, such as touching a neighbor's child, we have to report that to the state where the offense was committed. But most states accept the child is in treatment and simply put a report on file. As they work through things they are under pressure to pass the polygraph lie detector test. They start to look at the therapist as an ally and realize they can disclose the most shameful stuff. Then, two months into the treatment, we administer the polygraph test. It is only three or four questions, to see if they have disclosed the whole truth.”