Sensory  Overload?

Sensory Overload?

Local teacher’s porn star past sparks debate about the industry, teenage sexual proclivity

By Carla Iacovetti 03/29/2012

“In America sex is an obsession, in other parts of the world it is a fact.”
—Marlene Dietrich
(German actress – 1901-1992)

America has been in a sexual revolution since the ’60s and some believe it is rapidly increasing, especially with the unlimited access to sexually graphic sites on the Internet.  While there is no doubt that through the Internet, pornography has become more accessible, it has actually been a part of society through the ages.

 
Erotica is not anything new. A recent article published on LiveScience.com says, “Whichever way you slice it, the diversity of pornographic materials throughout history suggests that human beings have always been interested in images of sex. Lots and lots of sex.”


Even though sexual promiscuity and pornography have been around for centuries, can we hold the Internet accountable for today’s current sexual trends? While sex is perfectly natural, some believe that pornography of any kind takes it out of the realm of being natural and can open up the door for addictive behavior. In addition, the accessibility on the Internet is creating a whirlwind of issues.


A recent situation that has gained national attention revolves around 31-year-old Stacie Halas, a seventh-grade science teacher at Richard B. Haydock Intermediate School in Oxnard. She was recently placed on paid leave after some students reported seeing her in X-rated video clips on the Internet, and administrators at the school shortly thereafter discovered said images. Halas went by the alias “Tiffany Six”; she pursued a career in adult entertainment six years ago in San Diego.

 

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Seventh-grade science teacher Stacie Halas was put on paid leave when students discovered her X-rated video clips on the internet from her stint in the adult film industry six years ago.

 

Should a teacher who worked as a porn star be dismissed?

This incident has created controversy here in Ventura County. There are some who believe her removal is unjust and uncalled-for. This is something she did in her private time — before she was ever a teacher — and has nothing to do with her professional teaching career or her ability to teach. In a similar situation, former gay porn-star-turned-teacher Shawn Loftis was  fired by the Miami-Dade district when administrators found his sexually explicit pictures on the Internet in August 2011. The state, however, allowed Loftis to teach again in Florida. The content of Halas’ alleged porn video, on the other hand, constituted a cause for concern for some.


“We were shocked. … I saw parts of the video. It’s hard-core pornography,” said Oxnard School District Superintendent Jeff Chancer. There is a possibility that Halas is in more than one video, too. Chancer has asked parents with children attending Haydock Intermediate School to be very observant of their children’s Internet and cell phone activities.


Whether or not Halas will actually lose her job remains to be seen. After a closed session meeting with the school board last week, the board president released this statement:


“Direction was given to legal counsel regarding the discipline of a certificated employee and no action was taken in closed session. We know that there is considerable interest in our situation at Haydock Intermediate School. However, we respect the privacy of our employees and the Board Members and staff cannot comment on this matter
other than what is reported out of closed session.”


The issue at hand is still a very delicate one, as administrators discuss Halas’ future in correlation with the California Education Code.


“In a situation like this, possible consequences could lead to job termination and eventually the loss of a teaching credential,” said Stanley Mantooth, superintendent of Ventura County Board of Education. California Education Code, sections 44932 and 44933, spell out the grounds for dismissal or suspension of a credentialed employee. These sections list things like immoral or unprofessional conduct and evidence of being unfit for service.


Halas remains on paid administrative leave while the case is under investigation. Haydock Intermediate is a part of Oxnard School District, and the district is working closely with legal counsel to decide whether to move forward with a termination. Well-known feminist attorney Gloria Allred is representing Halas and had no comment.

 

Anytime, anywhere


With porn so easily accessible, is it as addictive as, let’s say, cocaine? Are Americans now on sexual overdrive? Some say no, that many Americans have always had issues with sex.


“All these issues were present before the Internet,” said licensed marriage and family therapist/certified sex therapist Jacqueline Richard of Ventura. “Pornography has been around forever, but the difference is that the Internet makes everything, including porn, much more accessible to us.


“Watching pornography can be extremely stimulating, depending on the individual. This level of stimulation can change our neurochemistry in ways similar to other kinds of excitement or arousal, not just similar to that caused by stimulating drugs,” Richard continued. “Some people are more prone to addiction or compulsivity than others, whether it’s substances such as drugs and alcohol, or whether it’s to other processes such as gambling or pornography. For the addicted, there is an ever-increasing need to increase the level of intensity in order to achieve the same effect, much like the need for more and more addictive drugs. For others, there doesn’t appear to be this need. Not everyone who views pornography becomes addicted.”


The accessibility of the Internet has taken porn viewing to a new level. Before the Internet, viewing porn was more complicated and secretive. Times have changed, however. Authors Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, in their book A Billion Wicked Thoughts — a book that shows a billion worldwide web searches, revealing the way the Internet has changed things — show that the Internet is revolutionizing sexual desires.

 
Part of that change has to do with two things: accessibility and sexual triggers. A sexual trigger, according to Phil Brewer, Ed.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist and emergency room psychologist, is a commonly used term today that refers to stimuli that can trigger behavior, aggravate or promote addictions and vulnerabilities. Brewer said that when a young boy views hard-core porn, it can cause a cognitive imprinting and arousal of prurient nature.


Whenever one engages in sexual activity, the brain releases a tidal wave of endorphins, which produce a chemical high. The authors of A Billion Wicked Thoughts found that online porn has changed sexual desire; where men once did not have such easy access to triggers that promote sexual addictions, now they do. “Web porn has changed everything,” Gaddaam said.


These sexual triggers may be cause for concern when considering how a teenage boy might handle sitting in a classroom taught by a teacher whom he has seen on the Internet engaging in hard-core porn.


“Young boys with raging hormones will be titillated by this kind of thing,” Mantooth said. Chancer said he hopes that this situation sends a very strong message to parents about monitoring children’s Internet activity — via both the computer and smart phone.

 

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World-renowned porn king Ron Jeremy dislikes how the Internet has morphed the adult industry and believes that there is a dark side to it.

 
World-renowned porn king Ron Jeremy (with more than 2,000 porn videos under his belt) dislikes how the Internet has morphed the adult entertainment industry.


“The world of porn is changing immensely because of the Internet,” he said. “We now create our own movies and show them to the neighbors. Everybody is a porn star.” He said that he also believes that no child younger than 18 should ever be exposed to porn. Few would argue that any child should ever be exposed to porn. It’s not adults, however, who are making such decisions for their children. Instead, adolescents are choosing to check various websites behind their parents’ backs.


Ben Marshall has been serving as youth pastor at Reality Church for the past four to five years, and he has observed an increase in the number of youths who are getting hooked on porn.


“Viewing this stuff takes away kids’ innocence and creates a stronger desire to experiment sexually,” he said. “I know of boys who have contacted girls via Facebook to discuss sex. They create a time and place to experiment with each other, and then they go home and never speak to each other again. With the Internet, you don’t have to feel shame. You can speak to someone boldly without any barriers. It’s creating open experimentation for all kinds of sexual experiences. Kids are being exposed to things that they shouldn’t ever be exposed to. Once a kid starts this stuff, it opens up Pandora’s box; and once that happens, it can become a serious problem that can affect someone’s entire life.”


A 2009 CyberSentinel poll recorded that many 13- to 16-year-olds spend almost two hours a week viewing pornography, and 11 is the average age at which a child is first exposed to Internet porn. In a recent article published in Psychology Today, porn may be seen as an increasing problem in young men from all cultures: “Desperate young men from various cultures, with different levels of education, religiosity, attitudes, values, diets, marijuana use and personalities, are seeking help. They have only two things in common: heavy use of today’s Internet porn and increasing need for more extreme material.”

 
Many of these young men began viewing porn on the Internet in their early teens, according to those who have studied the subject, and sometimes the need for more extreme material arises. Teenage boys seem to be particularly susceptible to pornography’s seductive lure. In the book Kids Online, author Donna Rice Hughes shares the following: “The male’s hydraulic sex system and the exterior genitals keep him more aware of his sexual feelings than the typical female is. His ejaculation pattern, once begun, will continue, and his psychosocial sexual appetite tends to be fully developed within 36 months after that first ejaculation. The porn market, therefore exploits this normal development of male sexuality, with the tragic effect that addiction to pornography tends to desensitize the male, such that a bonded heterosexual relationship is not only unlikely to develop, but the genuine relationship with one exclusive person is not even desired.”


In the case of Halas, the main issue doesn’t seem to be the fact that she did porn; the issue is that students discovered her. Given the amount of testosterone running through a male adolescent’s body, will a young man have the maturity and the presence of mind not to continue looking at porn once he is exposed to it? That also raises the question, how much of the burden should a former porn star bear for the choices of his or her students?


“Moral turpitude involves conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals,” Mantooth said. “This is the kind of thing that can ruin a teacher’s credibility and titillate young middle-school-age kids who have raging hormones.”


Mantooth further stated, however, that he believes that it is ultimately up to the parents to be on top of things, instilling core values into their children. “If it’s not porn, it will be violence or bullying. In today’s world, kids need to have family values of the highest caliber fostered by their parents.”

 

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Former gay porn-star-turned-teacher Shawn Loftis was fired from Miami-Dade school district, however, the state of Florida allowed him to teach again.


“Based on my personal experience in counseling,” Marshall said, “I would say that Internet porn is the number 1 or number 2 problem with high-school-age boys today. Not everyone is going to become an addict, but most high-school-age boys are having interaction with it on a fairly regular basis.”


Some consider the Internet to be a virtual sexual playground for some adolescent boys with budding hormones and curiosity.


“Adolescent boys have historically sought out information about sex through friends, family members and pornography, hoping that this knowledge will fulfill their newfound curiosity and urges,” said Alexandra Katehakis, the founder and clinical director of the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles and the author of Erotic Intelligence. “But in today’s digital world, most adolescents turn to porn for answers — and pleasure — and when porn becomes an adolescent boy’s primary mode of sexual education, it can be harmful to his brain’s development.”

 

Changing attitudes on porn

In a recent survey on the Internet Filter Review site, “40 million Americans visit Internet porn sites at least once a month.” In 2008, Nielson Online showed that 25 percent of employees here in the United States access porn from the workplace.


Ventura resident Ryan Gleason, who works in the Internet advertising industry, shared what he believes is a widely perceived perspective on pornography.


“Many believe porn is an infringement on a private, intimate, sacred act covenanted by a creative force — God; but that is only an opinion,” he said. “I’m not sure that it’s really a moral issue. Addiction to anything is another issue altogether, and when it comes to youth viewing it, they don’t have the capacity to process and understand what they’re watching. They shouldn’t be watching porn.”


Paul, a local man in his mid-30s, does not see Internet porn as that big an issue. “I actually don’t know one guy over 25 who is not, at some level, viewing Internet porn. It’s just the way the world’s flyin’ today. … Yup, everybody’s doin’ it — women too!”

 

Too much of anything is not a good thing

Famed author and feminist Erica Jong says, “If you have too many sweets, you feel sick. If everything is allowed, you don’t crave it anymore. Explicit sex can become boring in the end — hence the theory that people have to ratchet up the degrees of porn they watch, to find it sexy — with disturbing effects on society as a whole.”


 “The Internet is exactly like nuclear energy,” Jeremy said. “Nuclear energy is clean. It can actually be good, but you can also make a bomb out of it. There are so many things that can be used for good, but they also have a real dark side. The Internet is much the same.”


While sexual revolutions may continue, and the Internet is surely not going away, the fact that we are living in an age where sexual expression may be at an all-time high should prod us all to be aware of how viewing porn affects us and its apparent addictive qualities. Perhaps now is also a good time to start talking about the effects of viewing porn with our teenagers instead of seemingly continuing to ignore the issue.


“Part of the sexual revolution is bringing rationality to sexuality — because when you don’t embrace sexuality in a normal way, you get the twisted kinds, and the kinds that destroy lives.” — Hugh Hefner, NPR interview, Sept. 6, 2003.

Michael Sullivan contributed to this article.

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Comments

I have a few questions for the School Board:
1. How much will it cost the taxpayers to go up against CTA
2. How much will it cost the taxpayers to fight with Gloria Alred?
3. Why does your district lack Parental Control?
4. Is the Internet a bigger influence than parents?
5. Is it really your business what someone does prior to becoming a teacher?
6. Did this teacher work her way through college? Science is one of the harder subjects to teach........tells me, she was very dedicated to her goal?
7. WHAT NEXT???????? WILL YOU SUSPEND GAY PEOPLE? WILL YOU SUSPEND PEOPLE WHO PRAY TO BUDDHA?
Why don't you address bigger issues like test scores, bullying on campus, lack of funding from the state and, etc.

posted by Joan333 on 3/30/12 @ 11:10 a.m.

Thanks for your comment Joan333. You do make some good points, however, if this teacher violated the CA Educational Code, that's really another matter. I don't think the school board will be suspending Gay people or those who pray to Buddha, unless those individuals do something that violates the code and/or something outright illegal. As Jeff Chancer pointed out, the school CANNOT control smart phone access. Only a parent can handle that, beginning perhaps with allowing kids to have full Internet access with these phones.

This has nothing to do with her ability to teach or her dedication as a former science student.

The school board does address things like test scores, campus bullying, etc. Lack of funding is a State issue, and most likely, a constant battle, but I don't have the facts on that.

posted by WriterAtTheSea on 4/03/12 @ 11:50 p.m.

I just read the CA Education code referenced above....it is vague and it would seem to me it is to only be relevant if it was current activity.
Personally, I am not a fan of porn and would not want to do that for a living. However, this is in her past and she has moved on. If the school board wants to go after her for this, then I hope they go after every teacher who has gotten drunk on their free weekends and those who have had affairs and children out of wedlock. If they want to be hypocrites...they should go all out! And repectfully addressing WriterattheSea....school boards in general do poor jobs addressing bullying and such.

posted by elle on 4/20/12 @ 12:36 a.m.

I would have to agree with Elle, the CA. code seems only pertinent if the crime happened while she was employed by the State. However, I think if she was found dabbling in child porn regardless of any code her teaching credintals should become void. Teaching is a privilege and certain codes of ethics should never be crossed.

posted by Bluehaven on 4/28/12 @ 05:09 p.m.
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