Parents Beware! A Surprising New Way Kids Are Being Exposed to Porn

This article was originally published on Life As We Learn It, May 20, 2015. We are grateful to Mandy for allowing us to share this important information with our readers.

by Mandy Majors

Shocked young woman looking at mobile phone while relaxing on sofa at home

I’m standing in the grocery store checkout line, looking at magazines covered with picture-perfect women.

I need to exercise more. Do not pick-up that candy bar. NO!! I’m such a hypocrite. I need to practice what I preach to my daughter — these photos are altered and aren’t real-life. Get a grip.

As the superficial, yet real struggle raced through my mind, I heard my phone. I reached in my purse and was shocked to see the text I received:

“For live nudity available right now, click here.”

X-rated Spam Texts

I’ve had my same mobile number for over 10 years and have never received an inappropriate text, until a couple of weeks ago. My mind immediately raced to the last known place where I provided my mobile number. Maybe a rewards program? A retailer’s coupon feed?

I was worried my daughter had received the text on her phone at school. So, later that day, I posted to social media to see if anyone else had received a similar text.

The response shocked me. Many people (including kids) who were AT&T customers had received the same live nudity text within a 48-hour period.

I contacted AT&T. They said spam is a multi-carrier problem and provided me information on how to block subsequent texts and open an investigation.

Then, I was contacted by a local news reporter. You can see the story here:

Mom warns of X-rated texts being sent to cell phones

A week after the story aired, I was notified by others (who had different carriers) of similar pornographic texts. So, it’s definitely not isolated to AT&T.

An Opportunity for Open Communication

Regardless of the specific carrier, I think this presents a great opportunity to talk with parents, school officials and kids about how to handle inappropriate pictures and messages on any electronic device. We can join together, support each other and encourage open communication about pornography in general.

Here’s what parents need to know about porn: It’s addictive. It leads to early sexual activity. It is degrading. It’s the new drug we’re fighting. It is a money-making industry which depends on getting our kids addicted early. Many children, even as young as kindergarten, are being exposed to pornography due to the access to smartphones and tablets. It’s not just for boys. Girls are seeing it as a representation on how their bodies should look, so it becomes a body-image issue.

PornProof Kids

GPBP_Cover_3Shortly after the news story aired, I was contacted by Claudine Gallacher, Deputy Director of Porn Proof Kids. She saw the story and wanted to talk more about the actual texts. She was the writing coach and a researcher for a book called Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids (by Kristen A. Jenson and Gail A. Poyner) which uses a scientific approach to teaching children about pornography. She taught me,

“We need kids to identify what pornography is and learn to name it. By thinking (or saying out loud) the words ‘that’s pornography’ when we see a pornographic image, we move those pictures from the feeling part of the brain to the thinking part of the brain.”

I LOVE that, and I highly recommend their book.

Teach Kids to Deal with Texts Which Cannot Be Blocked

girl-using-iphone-844616-tabletTexts are extremely dangerous because there is no way to block that initial text. They are not like Internet pop-ups or pornographic emails which can be blocked through parental controls — we’ve dealt with this type of porn forever. Pornographic texts are new. They come directly to your phone number and there is no parental control or other way to block that initial text. Kids can see it. Only subsequent texts from that number can be blocked, after the original one has already been seen.

This is what I tell my children to do if they receive a pornographic text (and what I teach in MomTalk*):

  1. Turn off your phone immediately.
  2. Do not ever show another child. (Most school districts have major consequences if they do.)
  3. Report the text to me immediately so I can block future texts and report to our carrier.

I don’t think the solution is to shelter our kids and say no to all technology. I think we can slowly expose our kids to technology and social media, then walk hand-in-hand and learn together, continually talking.

Questions for Your School Officials

cheerful african american primary school boy with backpack

I also used these texts as an opportunity to discuss the issue with my school principal and superintendent. I received quick, informative responses; our district has actually been working on training for staff and students. Here were my questions (and feel free to use with your own school districts):

  • Do we have a district policy to govern pornographic pictures being shown on school property?
  • How do we communicate that policy to parents and kids? (Most parents I’ve talked to do not know they’re supposed to report any pornographic issues to school officials.)
  • What are the consequences for kids if they show pornographic pictures on school property? And, is that clearly communicated to parents and kids in our schools?

And, on an even broader scope:

  • How is the school district ensuring that classrooms are technologically safe for children?
  • How are teachers trained to handle surprises when internet filters fail?
  • Do we understand the personal responsibility kids have for their own electronic devices? (They are held responsible for the things they show to other kids.)

We can take these bad texts, turn them around and use them for good. Unite parents and school officials so we can teach our kids valuable life lessons. I believe this is a teachable moment for all of us.

*As for the MomTalk class, it is FREE and starts again on Sept. 24, 2015. If you’re in San Antonio and would like more info, CLICK HERE (there is a description and registration link).

mandy-150x150Author: . Mandy grew up in a divorced home in a small Indiana town and was a rebellious teenager who learned life the hard way. She overcame the bad decisions and managed to graduate from Indiana University. She has now been happily married to her best friend, Matt, for 15 years. They’re raising two children in a quaint little community north of San Antonio, Texas where vehicles stop to let goats and deer cross the road. Mandy has a deep love for her family (her most important job is wife and mom) and has a passion for discussing tween issues with other moms in her MomTalk group. She hates coffee and is a recovering Diet Coke addict. True story. If we’re being honest, she still cheats on the Diet Coke thing. You can connect with Mandy on Twitter: @mandymajors

My Kid Saw Porn! A SMART Parent Guide for a Sane Response

My Kid Saw Porn

This is the first article in a six-article series designed to help parents respond effectively to a child’s exposure to pornography and was originally posted on April 25, 2014. The other articles are Smart Parents Stay Calm, Smart Parents Make a Plan, Porn is Tricky! Help Kids Understand Their Confused Feelings, The Dangers of the One and Only Porn Talk, and 3 SMART Tips to Porn-Proof the Entire Family

by Kristen A. Jenson, MA

If you discover your child has already viewed Internet pornography, the way you respond can make a big difference. It’s worth the effort to help keep your kids safe online by planning for an occurrence that has become all too common (read about my friend’s experience finding links to porn sites on her child’s iPad below.)

But you can be prepared with the SMART Plan! Continue reading

How to Tuck a Mother’s Love into a Paper Napkin

by Claudine Gallacher, MAlove you napkinMy mom has never owned a pad of paper. To make a list or pen a note, she generally writes on an envelope. During my elementary school years she would often use my lunchbox napkin to write this simple message: “Love You, Claudine. Love, Mom.”

I cherished these notes!

My mother has a knack for making children feel good; somehow, kids sense that my mom believes they are good. Once while I was shopping with my mom, we heard another shopper yelling at her  child, calling the toddler a “bad girl.” My mother brought me to another area of the store and tenderly told me that no one should use the word “bad” when referring to a child, making it clear to me that although kids may at times behave poorly, there is a difference between what someone does and who someone is. Continue reading

Preventing Child Abuse: 4 Ways YOU Can Make A Difference

Originally published on BeAKidsHero on April 2, 2015.

by Ginger Kadlec — get free updates of new posts here.

Preventing Child Abuse
I was reminded at a recent fundraising dinner how many people want to help prevent child abuse, but aren’t quite sure what to do or where to start.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month so now’s a great time to get involved! YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE and it’s easy to do!

4 Ways to Make a Difference

Here are 4 ways you can get involved… a little or a lot… to help protect children from abuse and neglect. Continue reading

It’s a Pandemic! UCAP Helps Families Inoculate Kids

by Kristen A. Jenson, MA

Empowering Families at UCAP

KAJ 2015 UCAP title classWhere’s the world’s largest conference to educate the public about the harms of pornography?

Los Angeles? Nope! Las Vegas? Nope! Salt Lake City? You guessed it!

And in fact, It’s been getting so big, the organizers of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography had to move to a huge new venue—the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Keynote with Ed Smart and daughter Elizabeth Smart

To kick it all off, Elizabeth Smart and her dad, Ed Smart, were the keynote speakers. Ed talked about his work with the Operation Underground Railroad and their efforts to rescue sex-trafficked children. He shared a sobering, time-lapse map which showed the buying and selling of child pornography in one 24-hour period. Kids who are abducted and trafficked are often used to make child pornography. Continue reading

Prioritizing that First Porn Talk (or How to Eat a Big Frog)

A big thank you to Nicole Carpenter, amazing blogger at MOMentity.com and best-selling author, for contributing this awesome blog post on creating time to talk to kids about pornography! Don’t miss her great tips and insights!
Redhead girl with alarm clock on blue background.by Nicole Carpenter

We make time for the things in life that are important to us.

We all have an equal 24 hours each day. And we get to control how we spend that time. C.S. Lewis states it best,

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

But even if we spent every waking hour being completely productive, we are not super parents and we can’t do everything. So what gets left undone? Continue reading

Teen Shares 7 Tips for Overcoming Pornography

by Claudine Gallacher, MA

Boy Showing Thumbs Up with Friends on BackgroundA teenage boy reveals how early pornography exposure (at the age of nine) pulled him towards porn and shares the seven steps he used to cast porn out of his life.

When I met 16-year old Brian (not his real name), I knew I wanted to interview him. His peers would call him a people person, friendly, and helpful.  After talking with him for several hours, I agree.

Porn Talk is Common in Middle School

Brian was exceptionally open with me about his personal experiences with pornography. He was exposed to pornography (in the form of scantily dressed sexualized females) at age 9. When he was 11, friends told him about Playboy, a term he quickly typed into an iPod.

Regretful young manAt some point he realized that pornography was a “bad thing” and that it led boys to see girls as objects. Brian didn’t like how watching porn was affecting him. Still, porn had a powerful pull and he kept coming back to it for years. Continue reading