Raising Kids

What Do I Do When My Child’s Friend Exposed Them to Porn?

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A question I receive almost every week from parents across the country is: “What do I do when my son was exposed to pornography by a friend?”  Chances are, you and your spouse were grateful to have a night without kids, only to learn that your son or daughter’s innocence was violated by unwelcome exposure to Internet pornography.

Perhaps when you picked your child up, they wouldn’t make eye contact with you, or perhaps they were acting upset.  Maybe they shared that they no longer wanted to go over to that friend’s house, and when you pressed them for information, you learned that they saw some pretty graphic sexual content, either online or via a pornographic magazine.

It’s very easy for any parent to overreact when they first learn of such exposure.  Many parents become paralyzed or angry, and it’s right to be upset that your child was exposed to such graphic content.

Remember, however, that the way that you respond to your child in that moment is critical to support ongoing conversation about sex and purity.  Be sure to avoid blaming or shaming your son or daughter; thank them for telling you about what they saw, and tell them that you are very sorry that they had to see that content.

346x396-CircleAsk them if they have any questions, and try to learn—in specifics—exactly what they saw and how they gained access to the content.  Ask them how seeing the pornography made them feel—really listen to their words, and take this opportunity to explain healthy sexuality and healthy sexual expression.

Help them to understand God’s place for sex, and tell them that what they encountered at their friend’s home pales in comparison to what God intends for their bodies and for their life as sexual beings.

Additionally, explain—in as clear terms as possible—why you don’t want them to look at pornography (for help, check out our parent PDF on pornography).

It also might be appropriate to ask them if their friend inappropriately touched them or showed them their private parts (name those parts); many kids who begin experimenting with pornography also learn about masturbation at an early age, and some share how to engage in masturbation with their friends (even by showing them how to self-stimulate).  You’ll want to rule out any type of youth-on-youth sexual abuse.

Finally, it will be important to talk to the parents of the child in question.  They may have no idea that their son or daughter is looking at pornography, and it’s very likely that they would be horrified and ashamed to learn that their son or daughter exposed your child to explicit content.

Take a few moments to gain composure, and approach the parents with compassion.  Explain to them the facts as you understand them from your child, and help them to understand that it’s important for them to use a filter and/or parental controls on all Internet-enabled devices.

It’s my recommendation that you don’t let your child sleep over or spend time at a home that does not use filter their media content—your child’s purity is worth protecting, so if they don’t seem to agree with you, then kindly inform them that you think it’s best that your son or daughter doesn’t spend more time at their home.

This article was originally published here and is used with permission.

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