Will Talking about Porn Today Save Your Child’s Marriage Tomorrow?

Save Marriage

Another One Bites the Dust

I just heard about another divorce caused by pornography addiction. A few years ago when I read the statistic that 56% of all divorces name pornography addiction as a major factor, I was blown away. But now I wonder if that percentage is even higher!

This tragedy was similar to so many others. The ex-husband was exposed as a young child and never overcame his addiction to Internet pornography. (I know women also suffer with this addiction, but I haven’t personally heard of a divorce due to a woman’s addiction.)

Student working on taskI do know people who have overcome this addiction, but it takes a deep level of commitment, constant study, work and acceptance that life will never be “normal.” Giving up porn may mean the addict can never own a smartphone or other mobile device. They may need to shield themselves from most movies and TV shows and avoid shopping at the mall. Their spouse may always need to keep the password to their computer. I can see how humiliating it could be, and I’m grateful to know that some are willing to do whatever it takes to save their marriage.

I also know of people who lost everything dear to them (marriage, family relationships with their kids, even careers) and took the addiction with them to their grave.

How does pornography affect marriage?

Dr. Jill Manning lists 21 negative effects of porn in her book What’s the Big Deal About Pornography? Here are ten that can negatively affect marriage:

  1. Increased risk of developing unhealthy views about sexuality
  2. Increased risk of getting involved in sexual behavior that is risky, unhealthy or illegal (hiring prostitutes, for example)
  3. Increased risk of experiencing difficulties in intimate relationships
  4. Increased risk of becoming violent or aggressive
  5. Increased risk of becoming sexually abusive toward others
  6. Decreased trust in your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse
  7. Increased risk of believing long-term relationships are not even realistic
  8. Increased risk of believing there is nothing wrong with being sexually active with someone you have no emotional involvement with or commitment to
  9. Increased risk of becoming sexually dissatisfied with your future spouse
  10. Increased risk of cheating on your spouse once you’re married

Saving Future Marriages

Last year, before we published Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids, I was at a writer’s retreat in the beautiful Northwest and met author Ramona Zabriskie, who had just published an excellent book on marriage. As I told her about my work in pornography addiction prevention she literally got goose bumps and with wide eyes said,

“I am trying to save today’s marriages, but YOU are going to save tomorrow’s marriages!”

Of course, I’m not going to save them. Porn-proof kids are going to be better prepared to save their own marriages. Since then we’ve collaborated on a very informative webinar hosted by Ramona (which you should all listen to–we cover prevention strategies and also hear from a young woman who has worked with her husband in overcoming his addiction to porn which began at the age of five).

Porn-Proof = Better Marriage

0167I fervently believe that porn-proof kids have a much better chance at succeeding in their future marriages than those who bring a third partner–their pornography addiction–into their relationship.

I am feeling quite passionate about this today! Please don’t let your kids face this danger alone because you fear you’re taking away their innocence. They are already targeted in the cross-hairs of the porn industry! They need a defense strategy in place before they get hit.

The Good News

You can empower your children! Kids can learn to defend themselves against porn if they are educated.

young boy thinkingOne more radical opinion. I do not believe that children have the full ability to choose until they have been taught the consequences of their choices. A curious child that is caught off guard by pornography without knowing how or why to turn away does not really have a free and clear choice to reject it. And more often than you realize, their innocence will be stolen from them because they didn’t know any better.

OK, I’m done for today. But if you hear a scream coming all the way through the Internet, it’s me finding out that one more marriage has been destroyed by pornography.

Do you want to contribute to future healthy marriages? Please share PornProof Kids with your friends and family! We’d also love you to LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @PornProofKids. Thank you!

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5 Back to School Tips for Porn-Immune Kids

back to school tips

A parent’s nightmare

An innocent kindergartner gets on a school bus to ride home. A third-grader approaches her, holds up a smartphone and says, “Look at this!” What the little girl sees is hard core porn. This story came from a middle class neighborhood in Boise, Idaho, but it can happen anywhere.

How does this little girl react? Will she tell her parents? Will she be scarred for life? Much of that depends on what she’s been taught and how well she’s been prepared.

Back to school time is exciting for kids and parents. New teachers, new friends, new notebooks! A new beginning. But let’s not kid ourselves about the risks. As mobile devices flourish, the risk skyrockets for young kids to be exposed to Internet pornography.

Here’s what you can do.

mom talking with daughter in park1. Define pornography—don’t assume kids know what it is 

I know this sounds basic, but even if kids hear the word pornography, they probably don’t know what it means unless you define it for them.

Jill Manning, PhD, in her book What’s the Big Deal About Pornography? (p. 1-2), relates the experience of a dad who took his 13-year-old son to a presentation about the effects of pornography. On the drive home, his son turned to him and asked, “So what is pornography, anyway?” Even after an hour-long presentation, even after being exposed to it while doing homework, this boy had not make the connection. Dr. Manning advises:

“Being clear on what pornography is and how to recognize it is the first step to protecting ourselves.”

Want some help on defining pornography for young kids? Check out How to Define Pornography for a Seven-Year Old.

2. Ask your kids to tell you if they ever see it

For whatever reason, kids often don’t tell their parents when they’ve been exposed to pornography.

Jill Manning, PhD, tells about her own unsettling exposure to a centerfold while playing at a friend’s home when she was eight. She immediately called her mom and asked to come home, but never told a soul.

“When I consider the kinds of images young people today encounter upon their first exposure to pornography, I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I had seen something more graphic…A pornography problem often starts with an innocent curiosity about something seen or heard—and then it can quickly lead to a twisted appetite for more graphic and harmful images.” (What’s the Big Deal about Pornography?, pp. 12-13)

For more ideas on getting your kids to tell you when they’ve been exposed to porn, check out 3 Reasons Kids Keep (Dangerous) Secrets.

iStock_000016807015Small3. After school, ask your kids what they’ve seen or been shown on the Internet that day

No nagging. Just bring it up in conversation. You might even share something you’ve seen or heard about online. This is all about teaching accountability.

“Hey, I saw the most amazing dance video on Facebook today. Aunt Vicki shared it with me. You’ll have to see it! What did you see online today?”

 

4. Password protect all of your mobile devices, install filters for the Wi-Fi in your home

I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of young kids accessing porn from the family iPad or a parent’s iPhone. But it’s totally understandable! Kids grow up fast and the need to put a password on devices just sneaks up on you!

Recently, an article in the Deseret News National told the story of on an eight-year-old girl who was viewing hard core porn videos with her friend in her playroom closet. Once her parents found out (from the friend’s mother who called and told them what had been going on), the dad immediately password protected that iPad!

Go a step further and make sure your kids’ friends don’t bring it in on their devices. Install a filter that works on the level of your router to block inappropriate content no matter whose device is trying to access it. This article has some good information to get you started.

5. Confiscate (temporarily) all mobile devices when kids come over to play

Kids don’t need personal mobile devices to play in my humble yet correct opinion. Some parents make a rule that all incoming friends drop their mobile phones in a basket on the kitchen counter.

My neighbor’s son just had a birthday and his parents allowed a few select friends to come over for a sleepover. (Disclaimer: I don’t recommend sleepovers.) These boys wanted to sleep out in their very cool playhouse and when they were settled, dad came out and said, with a smile on his face, “If I find any electronics on any of you, you are going home immediately.” A Kindle was quickly handed over! And guess what, they all still had a great time!

This is all part of tech etiquette. Read more here about establishing your own family’s rules.

 

GPBP_30

It’s truly sad that we have to work so hard to protect our kids. But this is the silver lining: As we talk to our kids, check in with them and empower them, we actually get closer and form a more trusting relationship. United we stand, divided we fall. Nothing is more true than this when dealing with the invasion of pornography.

Do you have friends or family who could use some help porn-proofing their kids?

Let them know about Porn-Proof Kids!

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3 Easy (Yes, Easy!) Conversation Starters to Protect Kids Online

Mature Mother With Her Kids - IsolatedThey say practice makes perfect, but I say practice makes prepared!

And when it comes to online safety, parents need to be prepared for several different conversations. Here are three easy role plays that will empower your kids to reject pornography.

Kristen at End Exploitation Summit 2014(We created these role plays for the May 2014 End Sexual Exploitation Summit in D.C. I was honored to be in a panel with Jan Garbett, founder of EPIK, Jennie Bishop, founder of PurityWorks, moderated by Vauna Davis, Executive Director of UCAP.)

Role Play #1: Initiating an introductory discussion about pornographyPPK Mom and Son with BookScenario: You and your child are looking at a family pictures in an album or on your social media network of choice.

  • Cue 1: “These are fun photos of people we love, but do you know there are also very inappropriate pictures on the Internet called pornography? Pornography means disrespectful pictures, videos or even cartoons of people without any clothing on. Have you ever seen pornography?”
  • Cue 2: “Sometimes when I’m on the Internet, I’ve accidentally seen pictures that make me feel very uncomfortable. They show naked people treating each other in very disrespectful ways. It’s called pornography. Have you ever seen anything like that?”
  • Cue 3: “I really like sharing these pictures with you. Sometimes friends or even family members share very bad or inappropriate pictures or videos that show people without any clothes on. These pictures are called pornography. Have you ever seen anything like that?”

Role Play #2: Discussing your child’s exposure to pornography after they have reported it to you

Conversation togetherScenario: Your child comes to you and asks if they can tell you something that is bothering them.

  • Cue 1: “Thank you for telling me about what you saw online. I’m so sorry you were exposed to such inappropriate and horrible images. They are called pornography. I can see we need to talk more about how to keep pornography from hurting you. Can I ask you a few more questions? (Ask where they saw it, on which device, who they were with, how often.)
  • Cue 2: “Thank you for having the courage to come and tell me about what you saw. I really appreciate your honesty and how you are working to protect yourself from pornography by not keeping your exposure to it a secret. Would you mind if I asked you a few more questions about what you saw?” (Ask where they saw it, on which device, who they were with, frequency.)

Role Play #3: Discovering your child watching porn or finding a history of porn searches on a device

Mother Catches Daughter Using Tablet Computer When Meant To Be StudyingScenario: You either come upon your child looking at porn on a device or you discover searches for porn in the history of a device.

  • Cue #1: “I see what you’re doing. Please turn it off (and give me the device). I want you to know that I love you, and we are going to work through this together.”
  • Cue #2: “I need to talk with you about something. Recently I found some searches and websites for pornography on the iPad (or other mobile device). I’m not mad at you, but I need to understand why they are there. Could you tell me how you first found out about pornography and how long you’ve been looking at it?”

Have you had conversations with your kids about pornography? Do you think these role plays are helpful? Please join the conversation and leave a comment. Thank you!

Other Helpful Resources:

Jeffrey J. Ford, LMFT, has a series of five helpful YouTube videos: The Five Cs: What if my child has been exposed 

White Ribbon Week program for schools, created by Deanna Lambson. Teaches kids to make smart choices when using media and technology. Check it out for your school!

Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen A. Jenson, MA and Gail Poyner, PhD, illustrated by Debbie Fox. A read-aloud book to educate young kids about the addictive nature of pornography before they’re exposed and empower them with an action plan to reject it when they’re exposed.

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Click on the poster to subscribe to our blog and we’ll send you a FREE downloadable poster of the 5-point CAN DO Plan featured in our book Good Pictures Bad Pictures. It’s a great reminder for kids of the empowering information they learned when you read them Good Pictures Bad Pictures!

How Dads Can Protect Their Kids Online: Excellent Advice from a Therapist

Father And Daughter In ParkFather’s Day is almost here! Let’s talk about how dads can help their kids stay free from porn addiction. Dads who proactively teach their kids to steer clear from pornography of all kinds can have a huge impact on their kids, even if they’ve struggled themselves with a porn addiction.

jeff fordThis week I Interviewed Jeffrey Ford, LMFT who counsels individuals with pornography and sexual addictions at LifeSTAR in St. George, Utah. Jeff graciously agreed to talk with me on the phone and answer questions about fathers and how they can help porn-proof their kids.

Kristen: How can fathers help their kids stay away from porn, or get out of it? What is their unique perspective?

Jeff: Fathers have a unique contribution in encouraging their kids to venture out and be successful in the world. In fact, the way mothers and fathers hold a baby has been studied. Mothers typically hold the baby over her shoulder in a very nurturing position, whereas fathers often hold the baby facing outwards. This is quite symbolic of the role of fathers in raising their kids.

Fathers can have a huge impact on their kids’ attitudes. When fathers educate their kids about pornography, they are helping to protect them from a very real danger—just as real as drugs.

I recently had some parents bring in their 12 year old son who had been looking at pornography since the age of eight. When I said to the boy, “I hear that you’ve been looking at pornography,” he had no idea that the images he’d been viewing were called pornography. So it’s crucial that fathers define these terms for their kids.

Kristen: How do you define pornography?

Jeff: Lots of people ask me for a definition. They want to know the difference between soft core and hard core pornography. But I say pornography is not what you see, it’s what you get. In other words, whatever arouses you sexually is porn, and it may be different for each individual.

Kristen: What is the best age for kids to be warned about the dangers of pornography?

two girls with cell phoneJeff: It’s not a question of age, it’s a question of use. As soon as a child has any access to an internet-enabled device, they need to have some internet training. This is what we’ve told our three year old who uses our iPad, “If you see someone without clothes on, turn it off and bring it to mommy or daddy.” That’s as far as you need to go with a three or four-year old, but they need to have some warning.

Kristen: What’s your advice for a dad who struggles with a porn addiction and wants to help his kids avoid the same problem?

Student working on taskJeff: The best thing a father can do who struggles with pornography is to start his own work so he can get into recovery. Kids may find out a father is using porn when they accidentally walk in and see dad viewing it. Sometimes the father doesn’t even know a child has found out, but it leaves the child with a huge burden, a huge secret which can lead to other serious problems. I’ve counseled children who carry this secret for years and I know how devastating that can be. But I’ve also seen their fathers get help and healing for themselves and their entire families.

Fathers who struggle with pornography are often paralyzed by the shame, but again, the best gift they can give their kids is to start working on their own recovery whether it’s through professional counseling, a pastor or church leader, or a 12-step program.

In addition to getting started on their own recovery, I encourage dads to tell their kids. Kids often feel there’s something wrong. Dads don’t need to share the details of their addiction or recovery efforts, but it’s a big relief for kids to know that Dad is being proactive and getting help.

Kristen: I can see Dad telling his teens that he’s getting help, but what about young kids?

Young dad and sonJeff:  Again, it’s not about the age of the child, it’s about their experience. If they’ve seen Dad viewing porn, or sense the problems a porn addition can create in family relationships—even a young child of five can feel pain and shame. They can also feel relief when they know that dad is “going to the doctor to get help.”

Kristen: Any other advice you’d like to share with fathers?

Father and son talking in living roomJeff: Yes, fathers need to reassure their kids that they won’t get in trouble if they come and tell you about an accidental exposure to porn. Even if the child had a weak moment and gave into their innocent curiosity, they need to come and talk.

Open communication between a father and his kids is powerful and very helpful in protecting them from the dangers of porn.

My Two Cents

Jeffrey Ford sees the tragic and devastating effects of pornography everyday on kids and families as he counsels them at LifeStar. He’s a father himself and understands the power dads have on their kids. I’m thankful he was willing to offer his important advice to all fathers.

GPBP_26SmallFathers are so important! Their love, example and encouragement are so powerful! In the final chapter of Good Pictures Bad Pictures, a Dad spends time with his son fixing a bike. He affirms what mom has taught and then gives some excellent advice of his own.

Let’s honor dads, even those who struggle themselves, as they work to raise resilient and strong kids.

What has your dad done to help you? As a father, how have you helped your children defend themselves against pornography? Thank you for leaving a comment!

 

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Porn is Tricky! SMART Parents Assist Kids to Understand Feelings

This is the fourth in a six-article series to help parents respond to a child’s accidental porn exposure or purposeful seeking it out. The first three articles in the series are Your Child Has Viewed Porn, Now What? 5 SMART Tips for Parents; SMART Parents Stay Calm; SMART Parents Make a Plan to Address Pornography Exposure.

iStock_000009923484Small The SMART Plan

  • Stay calm
  • Make a plan
  • Assist your child to sort out their feelings
  • Regularly check in with your kids
  • Train your family

SMART Parents Assist Kids to Sort Out Confused Feelings

Porn is very confusing to kids! Think about this scenario: You teach your child to be kind to others, not hit, share their toys and treat their friends and siblings with respect. Then they go online and view adults engaged in sex, where the woman (usually) is beaten, gagged, and disrespected in the most disgusting ways.

Wouldn’t that be confusing?

Porn is Tricky!

Pornography is tricky because it evokes two conflicting feelings at the same time.Kids may feel

  1. a pleasurable physical response at the same time they feel
  2. repulsed, horrified and upset emotionally.

NOTE: According to Mark B. Kastleman, author of The Drug of the New Millennium, combining sex with violence produces a bigger rush of dopamine in the brain, which only adds to the addictive nature of porn. That’s why pornography has become so violent.

Eventually, if a child is left to themselves to figure it all out, they may be enticed to seek out even more porn, despite and maybe even because of its shocking nature. In order to keep kids safe online, we need to help them understand their feelings.

3 Steps to Helping Kids Sort Out Their Feelings

Jeffrey J. Ford, a licensed marriage and family therapist, produced a video in which he discusses three steps you can take to help your child after he or she has seen pornography.

worried boy1. Ask: How did your body feel? Ford advises parents to recognize that pornography arouses sexual feelings, which physically feel good. Acknowledging that sexual arousal feels good will avoid shaming your child about having normal sexual feelings.

2. Ask: How did you feel emotionally? Kids often say they feel sick to their stomach or “yukky” after seeing pornography. This is confusing. How can my body feel good but my emotions feel so bad at the same time? You can explain to them that pornography is tricky because it creates two different feelings at the same time.

3. Explain that there is an appropriate time to experience sexual feelings. Teach them that both their bodies and their emotions can feel good when they grow up and find someone they love and trust. Sexual feelings are good and normal and designed to bring two people together and keep them together in a committed and loving relationship like marriage.

iStock_000016807015SmallHelping kids sort out and understand their feelings about the explicit images they’ve seen is critical in assisting their thinking brain to reject pornography. Acknowledging that their feeling brain is curious about seeing naked people keeps the shame factor to a minimum.

Depending on the type of pornography your child has seen, you may also want to reaffirm that real sex is not about hurting another person, but it’s about showing kindness and affection to someone they love and are committed to.

In the next few SMART posts we’ll talk about helping kids deal with their negative emotions (which often serve as triggers for looking at porn) as well as helping kids identify the lies inherent in pornography of all kinds.

Have you been able to help your kids talk about an exposure to pornography? What tips would you pass along to other parents?

Here’s the next article in this series: The Dangers of the One and Only Porn Talk: 4 SMART Tips for Regular Conversations with Kids 

Do you know other parents who could use this information? Please share!

For more help in talking to kids about pornography, check out Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. It’s an easy way to introduce the subject of pornography with a simple plan to get kids excited about staying safe!

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 Mom-Approved!

“I read this book with my five and eight-year-old daughters, and they loved it. It breaks something difficult for a young and naive mind to understand into a clear and almost exciting mission: stay safe! The conversations in the book are so intuitive that after a question was posed I would turn and ask my girls the same question and they gave the same answer the child in the story was ABOUT to give. This story is almost like a really fun science article for kids; my girls were thrilled to find out that the book was ours to keep.” Mary Wiser, Amazon Review 

 

 

3 Secrets to Porn-Immune Kids

How do you immunize kids against porn? How do you porn-proof them so your kids stay safe online?

It’s no different than the many other dangers you train your kids to deal with–first you warn them, but then you’ve got to practice “what you preach” so they can react appropriately when they are exposed.

It’s kind of like a fire drill. First you teach them about the potential for danger; then you teach them how to get out of the house safely.

Beyond Warning

puzzled momXSmall I believe that warning them is a great first step, and a boatload of kudos to you proactive parents who open a dialogue with your kids about pornography.

But may I suggest that you don’t stop there?

Arm your kids with a warning, and then follow up with the skills they need to protect their brains. It’s like building any kind of immunity–first you need the knowledge about good nutrition, exercise, cleanliness, and medical options, but then you’ve actually got to practice those good habits until they become skills.

Media defense skills empower kids to reject pornography and keep it from dominating their thoughts.

When bullies taunted me at school, my mom gave me some tools to deal with them. (She happens to be one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet. In fact, once her smart-alecky humor almost got us kicked off a tour bus in Hawaii! But that’s another story.) The witty verbal retorts she recommended often left my tormentors scratching their heads and looking dumbfounded. Pretty soon, the bullies left me alone. I was grateful for my mom’s bullying defense skills.

[Update: A few people have asked me for my mom’s advice in fending off bullies. I offer this not as professional advice that will work in every situation, but simply to share what worked for me. My mom said to “kill them with kindness.” Be nice. Don’t get angry. Don’t react the way they want you to react. She said that if they can’t get you upset, they’ll lose interest. Having said that, bullying today isn’t what it was a few decades ago. I’m not sure the witty, somewhat sarcastic replies (often back-handed compliments) I used then would be a good idea to use in every situation today. It seems like today’s kids are living in an emotional war-zone. I’m not an expert in this area, but I’m sure it helps kids when their parents offer praise and affirmation at home so kids can better handle the abuse they may get at school.]

Adults Underestimate the Pull of Porn

Even good kids who have had plenty of warnings to stay away from pornography still succumb. A study out of Europe documents what I believe is true the world over–parents simply underestimate their kids’ online exposure to pornography. They underestimate the enticing pull of these images–especially for kids who don’t know how to deal with the shocking memories they create.

Media Defense Skills

So here are three super simple, but super powerful, media defense skills to help kids supercharge their immunity to porn.

GPBP_07Sml1. You’ve got TWO brains! Teaching kids they have two brains–the feeling brain and the thinking brain–is empowering for all kinds of growing up skills (which we explain in greater detail in Good Pictures Bad Pictures, a book to read with your children). The feeling brain is all about instinct, appetites and desires, and all of these are critical to survival. Pornography activates the feeling brain and, over time, can give it power to hijack the thinking brain—that part of the brain that understands consequences and puts the brake on our appetites. It may be helpful for kids to see their thinking brain as a super hero that needs to triumph over their feeling brain, the brain that is very curious about seeing pictures of naked people. Read more about teaching kids that they have two brains in my post: You Have Two Brains! 

GPBP_23Sml2. Name it when you see it. “That’s pornography!” is a powerful phrase because it activates the pre-frontal cortex and revs up the thinking brain to take charge. If a child looks at a pornographic picture and thinks, “Wow! She’s exciting!” or “He’s hot!”—this response can easily lead to looking for more porn. But if kids are trained to say, “That’s pornography!” (and can practice saying it with their family), it wakes them up to the danger of what they’re seeing and the importance of rejecting it immediately. Read more about the power of this skill in my post entitled How to Avoid the Slippery Slope of Gateway Porn.

young boy thinking3. Practice the art of distraction. Pornographic images are extremely memorable. Especially for kids whose mirror neurons make the images feel all the more real. So when kids see anything that arouses their interest (it could be a scantily clad actress in a movie or a model in a bikini), those images are hard to forget. They keep popping up and enticing a child to look for more. Kids need to know this will happen and be prepared to distract themselves (or to get you to help them) every time the images reappear. It’s especially helpful to engage in something physical that requires their mind’s full attention. As they practice the art of distraction, those images will begin to fade as the neural pathway to that image erodes and weakens. Find out more about this skill in my post: Teach Kids Two Ways to “Forget” Porn.

These Skills Work for Me!

It’s ironic (but not surprising) that as I’ve done research online for our read-aloud book, Good Pictures Bad PicturesI’ve been exposed to more porn. Thankfully, these same media defense skills work for adults, too! By practicing them, those images have faded from my memory.

Shameless plug!

FREE Can Do Poster

Good Pictures Bad Pictures (the companion book for the CAN DO Poster) includes an easy to remember 5-point CAN DO Plan for kids to employ when they see pornography. Subscribe to our PornProof Kids blog and get this free printable poster to give your kids the media defense skills they need. Click here to subscribe (P.S. If you received this blog in an email, you’re already subscribed.) You would never expect your child to be successful in school without learning the skills of reading and basic math. In the same way, kids cannot be expected to be successful at avoiding the traps of pornography without these simple but powerful media defense skills.

Have you taught your kids about pornography and how to manage their thoughts? How have your kids responded? Please leave a comment with a question or share a story. Thanks!

4 Ways Porn Makes Kids More Vulnerable to Sexual Abuse

DistressDid you know that children are sexually victimized at a much higher rate than adults? Virtually everyone can agree that adult rape is a horrible crime. But the Children’s Assessment Center website reports that nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under.

And this study was done back in 2000, so I’m pretty sure with all the proliferation of child pornography, that number is even worse today.

Pornography is so intertwined with sexual molestation that parents need to know how all of this works together. Let’s look at four ways that showing pornography to kids can weaken their ability to avoid, resist and escape sexual victimization.

According to Diana E.H. Russell in her Big Porn, Inc chapter entitled Harming Children, porn can arouse, legitimize, desensitize and silence children who are being molested.

Young boy using laptopSeeing pornography arouses children’s sexual curiosity, especially in boys. And perpetrators often show pornographic pictures to begin grooming them for sexual subjugation. “Pedophiles posing as young teenagers in Internet teen chat groups often send pornographic pictures or email messages…in order to arouse their curiosity and to manipulate them into meeting in person.”

Showing pornography to kids serves to legitimize or normalize child sexual abuse in the eyes of victims.  The abuser uses porn to persuade them that they would enjoy certain sexual acts and that it’s normal or alright to do. Sending child pornography to targeted children is a ploy to convince kids that other children are sexually active, too. No big deal, right? Wrong!

Showing pornography to children desensitizes or “disinhibits” them. A child molester grooms an intended target by first befriending them, then touching him or her and then introducing the child to X-rated videos until the child can sit through them. Once the child is comfortable watching pornography, it’s much easier to get them to do the sexual acts depicted in pornography.

Sombre futureKids naturally feel guilty and ashamed for looking at pornography, and pedophiles use this to their advantage. According to Russell, “Child molesters can often silence their victims by telling them that their parents would be very upset to learn that they had watched pornography.” And kids who are molested following the exposure to porn may feel complicit in the abuse. Just another reason for them to remain silent, keeping their shame buried inside.

So how do parents use this information to help their kids?

  • First, kids need to be educated and given a basic definition of pornography so they know how to label it when they are shown it or stumble upon it.
  • Next they need to be taught that if they are shown pornography, they won’t get in trouble for telling you about it. It’s not their fault and they are not to blame. But mom or dad needs to know.
  • Third, if you find out that a friend or family member has shown pornography to your child, cut off all access to that person and get professional counseling immediately. In my county, we have a Support, Advocacy and Resource Center  where victims can turn for help in cases of sexual assault or exposure to pornography. In other areas, search for “Sexual Assault Resource Center.”

mom talking with daughter in parkSexual abuse of minors is far too common, and has long-term negative effects on children. Help your kids stay safe by teaching them about pornography and encouraging them to tell you if they are ever shown it by anyone.

Have your kids ever told you that someone showed them pornography? How did you respond? Please leave a comment! We can all learn so much from each other.

UPDATEGood Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids is now available! 

Click on image to purchase

Click on image to purchase

Good Pictures Bad Pictures is a comfortable, read-aloud story about a mom and dad who teach their child what pornography is, why it’s dangerous, and how to reject it. Using easy-to-understand science and simple analogies, this ground-breaking book engages young kids to porn-proof their own brains.

The 5-point CAN DO Plan teaches kids how to avoid the brain-warping images of pornography and minimize the troubling memories of accidental exposure that often tempt kids to look for more and lead them into a dark and destructive addiction. To stay safe in the digital age, kids must install an internal filter in their own brainGood Pictures Bad Pictures shows them how.

Free CAN DO Plan Poster!

FREE Can Do PosterSubscribe to PornProof Kids and we’ll send you a free downloadable poster of the 5-point CAN DO Plan, a companion resource to Good Pictures Bad Pictures.