Taylorsville parents, students to receive anti-pornography information at area schools
Sep 18, 2018 02:06PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Garrett Jonsson explains the harmful impact pornography has on lives to a group of Montana students. (Photo courtesy Garrett Jonsson)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
A 2005 Taylorsville High School graduate, who struggled for nearly 20 years to free himself from the harmful effects of pornography, is returning to his alma mater to help others deal with the struggle or avoid it altogether.
“In our Fight the New Drug presentations to parents and students, we use scientific facts and personal accounts to explain the harmful effects of pornography,” said Garrett Jonsson. “Religion is not a part of our presentation, and we are not affiliated with any government organization. I also never mention the word sex. We are teaching how porn effects our brains, relationships and world.”
Salt Lake County Council Chairwoman Aimee Winder Newton, the only Taylorsville resident to ever sit on the county council, is such a big supporter of Fight the New Drug messaging, she helped arrange presentations this week at Taylorsville High School along with Bennion and Eisenhower junior high schools.
“I am not involved with (Fight the New Drug); I don’t serve on their board of directors,” Newton said. “But I have been familiar with their organization and message for years. I think they do a great job of teaching kids about the harm pornography does. I helped to arrange these presentations in Taylorsville schools three years ago and am happy to do it again.”
A Fight the New Drug parents’ meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 2 at Taylorsville High School at 7 p.m. The student sessions, at the two junior highs and back at Taylorsville High, will be held the following two days.
“I will be the only presenter at these meetings,” Jonsson said. “By then, I will have done more than 100 presentations in 15 states from Connecticut to Florida and in Canada.”
Founded in 2009 in Salt Lake City, the anti-pornography organization has eight full-time employees and an annual budget of $1.6-million. Its mission statement reads: “Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness of its harmful effects using science, facts and personal accounts.”
The nonprofit organization began making presentations, like the ones Jonsson will share in Taylorsville, in 2011. In addition to the United States, Canada and Mexico, these discussions have also been held in Spain, Trinidad, Guatemala, Nepal and elsewhere.
“Our goal is to change the conversation about porn, to be critical of it, so it is no longer considered normal,” said Fight the New Drug Executive Director Natale McAneney. “We are having a positive impact on young people. Much of our education is based in social media. Our Facebook page (created in 2009 when the organization was founded) now has nearly 2 million followers.”
Next month, Fight the New Drug will unveil a three-part, online documentary series addressing the negative effects pornography has on the viewer’s brain and heart, as well as the world at large.
“We offer about 200 presentations per year now at schools, corporations, professional conferences and other locations,” McAneney said.
Three years ago, one of those presentations changed Garrett Jonsson’s life.
“From age 9 to 28, I had a challenge with pornography,” Jonsson said. “Then, in 2015, I attended a Fight the New Drug presentation. It was the first time I had ever heard of the organization. Prior to that I had tried to ‘white knuckle’ myself away from porn. But the information I heard at that presentation made it easier to deal with. Right then I knew I needed to do something to help raise awareness about their message.”
By then, Jonsson had already been married several years and had hidden his pornography challenges from his wife. With her support and encouragement, Garrett decided to test his athletic endurance to help make the public more aware of Fight the New Drug.
“First, I ran a marathon distance (26.2 miles) for 30 consecutive days, with my hands handcuffed in front of me,” he said. “I ran the same route each day—from South Temple to 9000 South, and back—in the Salt Lake Valley. The handcuffs represented the hold pornography has on people.”
Jonsson emailed Fight the New Drug to tell the organization what he was doing, before he started. But he was nearly done with his 30 marathons before he heard back from them.
After recovering from all the long-distance running for about a month, Garrett undertook another activity to raise anti-pornography awareness. He called this one “Coast-to-Coast in Chains.”
“I flew with my bicycle to Virginia, and then spent 56 days riding it across the country to San Francisco,” he said. “The entire trip, I dragged chains behind my bike, again to represent the drag pornography puts on lives.”
Soon after the marathon running and cross-country bike riding, Jonsson accepted a part-time position as one of Fight the New Drug’s anti-pornography speakers.
Now a father of three—and with his own parents still living in the same Taylorsville home he grew up in—Jonsson is excited to share his message with hometown audiences.