Raising Kids Sex and Intimacy

Are You Letting Pornography Educate Your Kids About Sex?

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As parents, educators and mentors, we want to instill our own personal values about relationships, sex, intimacy, love and marriage in our children.  Unfortunately, we are intimidated, overwhelmed or feel powerless or embarrassed when it comes to doing the hard work of parenting on issues of sex.  As a result, the powerful, misleading messages portrayed in Internet pornography are often taking the lead in educating children about sex.  Just as a 30-second commercial can influence whether we choose one popular soft drink over another, exposure to pornography shapes our attitudes, values and even our behavior.

Information about sex in most homes and schools comes, presumably, in age-appropriate incremental stages based on what parents, educators, physicians and social scientists have learned about healthy child development.  Pornography, conversely, has a negative impact on the emotional and mental development of children, and studies have indicated that as many as seven out of ten kids accidentally encounter pornography online, and almost 80 percent of this exposure occurs in the home.

Some of you may not get why this is a big deal.  Perhaps you stumbled across a Playboy magazine as a youngster and you don’t feel damaged as a result.  If you’ve only really been exposed to the soft-core images of the ‘70s and ‘80s, it’s critical to understand that pornography has dramatically changed with the advent of the Internet.  Kids now have easy access to hardcore, explicit content, filled with violence, fetishes, multiple penetrations, group sex and more (we’ll be hearing more on this from author Tanith Carey next week).

Research has consistently shown that pornography short-circuits and distorts the normal development process in our children.  Pornography supplies mis-information about a child’s sexuality, sense of self, and body, and often leads a child down a rabbit hole of harmful content and behaviors. And, in a time when children as young as eight are regularly accessing pornography, we are seeing an increase in the amount of young kids engaging in sexually abusive acts against other kids.

A Daily Mail article out last year highlighted that some young girls are becoming uncomfortable with their boyfriends’ sexual demands; as their boyfriends are more influenced by online pornography, they are asking their girlfriends to perform beyond what their bodies can realistically handle.  Boys (and many girls as well) are getting caught up in the pornography lie, and without the proper maturation, they simply cannot distinguish between what is real and what is fantasy.

In a story out this week, some parents are upset because a school administered a survey asking seventh and eight-graders about oral sex, the number of sexual partners they have had, and what their methods of birth control are.  President of the Rutherford Institute contended: “you’re talking about kids that probably don’t even know what oral sex is… you’re talking about adult material.”  Whether or not the survey should have been administered, I would assert that the majority of middle schoolers today have been exposed to far more graphic and dangerous adult material through the Internet than what was included in the survey.  Parents are often shocked by the amount of images, videos and content kids have absorbed about sex through the Internet, through music videos and magazines.

As one 16-year-old shared in a recent piece in the New York Magazine: “you can learn a lot of things about sex.  You don’t have to use, like, your parents sitting down with you and telling you.  The Internet’s where kids learn it from.”

Bottom line: if you aren’t having regular conversations with your kids about sex and if you aren’t using filters on your computers, gaming device and mobile phones, it’s more likely than not that pornography is providing a powerful mis-education to your kids about sex.

With Father’s Day around the corner, it’s a perfect time to reevaluate the influence you’ve had on your kids in this area.  It’s so important to talk to your children regularly about healthy sexuality—both off- and online.  Make sure they know that if they see anything scary of confusing, they can come to you.  Do not overreact if your child has accidentally or intentionally encountered pornography—understand that kids are curious about sex, and they need and want adult guidance.

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

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