Helping Parents, Families, & Caregivers

Discussing Porn With Kids and Teens: Why You Should Be Talking

 

Discussing porn with children
By Kristin Jenson, MA (Author), Dr. Poyner (Author), & Debbie Fox (illustrator)

Discussing porn with kids and teens can be so intimidating. In fact, it is downright humiliating and embarrassing.

If your child or adolescent was found watching porn online, on TV, or some other media platform how would you respond? What would be your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors? Would you ground your child or teen? Would you explain what it is prior to punishing them? In whatever way you would choose to respond, it will be important to provide education on what it is, why people indulge in watching it, and the negative effects of porn on thinking patterns, perceptions, and relationships.

This book review will discuss the book prompted and supported by Protectyoungminds.org, Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. Discussing porn with kids and teens is something we all must do to protect our generation.Developing youths need a clear and thorough explanation of what porn is way before they are exposed to it. Without a clear explanation, children and teens are left to their own devices to misinterpret and struggle to make meaning out of degrading acts that destroys the definition of love, affection, trust, and loyalty. When we take the time to explain porn to our kids and teens, we are taking the initiative to correctly educate and challenge erroneous beliefs. Sadly, for most parents and families, children and teens are likely to talk to their friends about porn than their own parents. This is another reason why speaking to our kids and teens about porn should happen sooner than later.

Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-proofing Today’s Young Kids

Kristen Jenson and Dr. Gail Poyner wrote the book Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids to encourage parents to start this tough conversation. Both authors do a great job making parents feel comfortable with introducing a sensitive  and controversial topic. The book highlights the importance (through an innocent conversation between a concerned parent and an inquisitive child) of parents taking the initiative to calmly and correctly discuss the topic of porn. Each page contains inviting pictures for kids to look at while reading the book.If families integrate this book in with the multiple books in a child’s library, the topic may be seen by the child as normative which will result in less embarrassed.

How can porn affect my child or teen?

A a therapist, with 7-8 years of experience, working with children, teens, and their families, I have seen my fair share of cases in which a child (often under the age of 13) was introduced to porn through a friend (neighbor, peer, or schoolmate) or through innocent searching of the World Wide Web. My young clients became victims of not only porn itself, but the development of premature sexual feelings and desires.

As a result of more and more youngsters becoming susceptible to erroneous views on love, companionship, and intimacy, Protect Young Minds (i.e., an organization that aims to educate and advocate against porn) takes the initiative in educating families and warning them of ways social media can negatively impact their families. Protect Young Minds is a good place to start for families searching for ways to introduce the topic of porn to a child or teen. That’s why when I was asked by Protect Young Minds to share my experience of counseling a young by who had come across porn on YouTube and began sexually violating his younger siblings, I said yes. I had seen, first hand (with multiple clients), how premature exposure to porn tears families apart. This 10-year-old  remains in a secure residential treatment facility (campus environment with 24/7 supervision, education, and counseling) to this day. He not only lost his freedom and his childhood, but his family and his family’s trust. His life and family will never be the same, even if he returns home to his family.

What can happen if word gets out that my child viewed porn and tried to act out what they saw?

Sadly, many families are unaware of the requirements of CPS (Child Protective Service) agencies when a sexual act by a sibling toward another sibling is reported to a mandated reporter. For example, a mandated reporter is anyone who suspects child abuse or child maltreatment that works in an established agency or in a position of power such as by being a mental health professional, medical doctor, etc. Mandated reporters can report “child abuse” based on suspicion. With my 10 year old client above, CPS removed him from the home and placed him in the home of his grandmother prior to being admitted to a locked facility.

Some CPS agencies require families to incorporate “safety precautions” to ensure everyone is safe in the home if the offender returns to the home. Safety precautions may include (i.e., cameras in the home, no or highly monitored electronics, frequent visits by CPS to the offender’s home or school (sometimes unannounced), a lock on the offender’s door with a bell so others in the house can hear when the child has left his or her room, etc). Whether mental health professionals can prove porn is detrimental to the young brain still remains to be seen. But it is quite obvious, primarily through anecdotal and real-life examples, that porn negatively affects those prematurely exposed to it. In fact, m, many families are torn apart by the insidious nature of porn.

The above client is now labeled a sex offender by the juvenile justice and mental health system. These cases can certainly been an eye-opener. Thankfully there are books such as Good Pictures, Bad Pictures to lead the way for all of us.

Where can I find more information about this topic?

You can learn more about my experience by reading my guest article for Protect Young Minds. You also may like their website. Check it out at: http://protectyoungminds.org/.

 

To learn more about this great book, find it on Amazon.com.

   
As always, I wish you well
Tàmara 
 
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