Carly (not her real name) was 8 years old when she received a mobile device for her birthday. Carly had also just learned where babies come from because her mom had given her “the talk.” Being curious and imitating how the adults in her life seek information, Carly typed the word “sex” into a search engine to learn more. Four months later, her mom discovered the horrific pornographic videos that her daughter had been viewing from her mobile device.
That was five years ago and the stories like this one (and worse) keep arriving in my email inbox or via social media. No matter how kids are exposed to porn, it negatively impacts them. And often their curiosity to see more pornography feels like the pull of a giant magnet. Unfortunately, most kids are trying to negotiate their hypersexualized world with insufficient help from their parents.
At a recent Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland agreed that pornography has become a public health crisis worthy of the same alarm and attention given to a medical epidemic. Elder Holland admits: “Frankly, until the sirens of a public-health war sound, I fear we will be wholly unsuccessful in this fight.” Pornography represents “the most destructive and evil works of modern times…”
The good news is that many parents are beginning to see the benefits of teaching their young kids to reject pornography. And it’s working! Every week I hear from parents who tell me how their child was exposed to porn and knew exactly what to do by following the CAN DO Plan in my book Good Pictures Bad Pictures: PornProofing Today’s Young Kids. These kids are prepared to close their eyes, label it by saying to themselves, “That’s pornography,” and go and tell a trusted adult. A large part of Good Pictures Bad Pictures is devoted to teaching kids the difference between the thinking brain and the feeling brain, and helping young kids understand how to keep the thinking brain in charge of deciding to reject pornography.
With the ever increasing awareness that pornography is a public health crisis that is harming today’s children, parents need to be proactive in teaching kids how to reject pornography, not just that they should. Here are seven effective strategies to get started on your family’s prevention plan.
You’d be surprised how many young kids get pulled into porn and never know that what they’re viewing is called pornography. And it may be years before they figure it out if no one ever defines the term for them. Here’s the simple definition that we use in Good Pictures Bad Pictures: “Pornography is pictures, videos, or cartoons of people with little or no clothes on…Pornography shows the parts of the body that we keep private—like the parts we cover with a swimsuit.” Teach kids that no one should ever show them pornography or ask to look at or touch the private areas of their body. Ask them to tell you or a trusted adult right away if this ever happens. (And assure them that they won’t get in trouble for telling!)