Cover photo credit to Inside Edition. 4-minute read.
Arizona junior high teacher Brittany Zamora is now in jail after pleading guilty to sexually abusing a 13-year-old student in her class.
Here’s what happened. The former Las Brisas Academy teacher was arrested in 2018 when the male student’s stepmom began noticing suspicious behavior from him. To figure out what was wrong, she installed the parental monitoring app “Sentry” on his phone. She began receiving alerts about inappropriate texts being sent to and from his phone. After being confronted by his stepmother, the boy revealed that he had been sexualy abused by Zamora.
But Zamora’s concerning actions didn’t end there. Court documents explain that she may have also been grooming at least one other boy for sexual contact.
According to the mom of one of the victim’s male friends, Zamora had promised to send the other boy naked photos over the summer. She had also asked him in class whether or not he was circumcised. And, when he didn’t understand the question, Zamora allegedly showed him pictures of male genitalia on her phone.
The Maricopa County Police say that Zamora’s behavior was a form of calculated grooming for sex through special attention, X-rated texts, and naked photos of herself.
What porn has to do with any of this abuse
It’s clear that Zamora’s abusive and grooming actions were toxic and unacceptable—that’s why she’ll be stuck behind bars until 2038 and be forced to register as a sex offender.
Still, whenever these horrifying stories break involving female teachers and male students, comment sections are often filled with exclamations like, “Where were these teachers when I was a student?!”
It’s no wonder when porn plays as prominent of a role in our society as it does.
Let’s look at the facts to see why that’s a bigger deal than it seems. Here are a few titles of real, popular porn videos on free-to-access porn sites:
“Plump School Teacher F—ed By Her Hung Student,” 4 million views.
“Sexy busty ebony teacher Persia Black f— her school student,” 14.4 million.
“MOM Redhead teacher young student with big c—, a lesson,” 115 million views.
“F—ing My Hot Blonde History Teacher in School Classroom (REAL!),” 2.4 million views.
We wish we were making up these porn site search results, but we aren’t.
A simple porn search can bring up hundreds of videos that basically portray a scripted version of the abuse the 13-year-old student was subjected to. And in a #MeToo society that strives to shed light on the realities of sexual abuse and how it can traumatize and harm survivors for their lifetimes, fantisized porn versions of this abusive behavior only normalizes and excuses it. How is that acceptable?
One theory is that parts of our porn-obsessed society have become desensitized to predators of children. Let’s take a look at the science behind this process.
How porn desensitizes consumers
Desensitization is a negative effect that porn has on the consumer’s brain. Basically, over time, the consumer begins to tolerate the unnatural, toxic images they’re watching, which leads them to require greater amounts and more extreme porn in order to experience the same “high.”
Research shows that tolerance leads some porn consumers to be more likely to support violence against women, to believe that women secretly enjoy being raped, and to be more sexually aggressive in real life. The desensitization process can even rewire porn consumer’s brains to tolerate sexual assault—even if they don’t act out sexual assault in their lives, they have been shown to be less empathetic to sexual violence survivors.
But here’s the real kicker: desensitization affects a porn consumer whether they want to watch it or not. And the truth of the matter is that not all people who consume porn want to be consuming it.
This is where the grooming piece of the equation comes in.
How porn is used to groom for child abuse
Remember when we said earlier that the desensitization process can rewire a porn consumer’s brain to tolerate sexual assault?
That toleration of sexual assault doesn’t only mean someone is tolerant of sexually assaulting another or tolerant of watching someone get sexually assaulted. It can also mean that someone, even a child, is tolerant of being sexually assaulted because they don’t view it as assault, they see it as the fantasy porn portrays all sexual encounters to be (whether it’s consensual or not).
For child predators, such as Zamora, porn is seen as a necessary tool in the grooming process. That’s because, according to national expert on child abuse and neglect Dr. Cynthia Crosson-Tower, showing potential victims videos of their peers engaging in and enjoying sex may lead the potential victim to be “more likely to comply with the molester’s demands.”
Social worker, M.C. Badenhorst, and senior lecturer in the School of Psycho-Social Behavioral Science, M.M. Steyn, have collective research that also show how porn inhibits child abuse victims from truly understanding that they are being manipulated and exploited.
See the problem with student-teacher themed porn, yet? While this is a disturbing reality, there is hope for catching grooming behavior before abuse happens.
How technology helps fight the battle
Today, technologies exist that provide protection and support to those in need.
Take it from the news story above: Zamora was only caught because of a stepmom’s smart decision to install a parental monitoring app on her stepson’s phone. And “Sentry,” the device used by the stepmother isn’t the only app that helps monitor inappropriate texts.
Our friends at Bark Technologies have also developed software that can detect grooming—they’re the only ones out there who can do this.
It ultimately comes down to this: we encourage people to avoid supporting abuse in any capacity, whether consuming content that will one day groom a child or engaging with content that normalizes assault. Are you with us?