Of all the blog posts I’ve ever written, this one feels like one of the most important. This blog post has been years in the making, and its one I’ve not wanted to write. For some time I really fought it. Couldn’t I just keep the knowledge to myself, and help my own kids? Wasn't that enough?
It wasn’t. Again and again there was that nudging. And lately it has grown stronger and stronger. Only a month or so ago I read this quote in a book called Christy. A book written many years ago, that seems to have nothing to do with topic I’m sharing. But it encapsulates so well why I have to talk about this. “You see, evil is real—and powerful. It has to be fought, not explained away, not fled. And God is against evil all the way. So each of us has to decide where we stand, how we’re going to live our lives. We can try to persuade ourselves that evil doesn't exist; live for ourselves and wink at evil. We can say it isn’t so bad after all, maybe even try to call it fun by clothing it in silks and velvets. We can compromise with it, keep quiet about it and say its none of our business. Or we can work on God’s side, listen for His orders, on strategy against the evil, no matter how horrible it is, and know that He can transform it.” (Christy pg 95) That quotes states so clearly why I am writing today, about protecting our children from pornography.
It all started many years ago, when I was a young high school teacher. I can recall the scene vividly. There I was, 22 years old, fresh from college and with a heart ready to make a difference in the lives of my students. This was my first time in public high school. I had been home schooled for nearly all of my elementary, jr. high, and high school education. And though I’d spent the last 5 years in a public university, there were still things about life on a public high school campus that shocked me. The day that I saw one of my 9th grade boys with what I considered to be a soft porn picture in his binder, was one of those days.
I’m sure some teachers would have walked right by, and maybe not even have noticed that picture of a girl on the back of a motor cycle. She wore a g-string bikini and her butt cheeks were hanging off the seat of the motor cycle. Her voluptuous bosom was pressed against the man in front of her, and the picture was extremely sexual. And, as far as I was concerned, extremely inappropriate for this 14 year old boy to be carrying around school. I couldn't ignore it.
I called him out on it. “You can’t have that picture in my classroom,” I told him. After his initial anger that I dared tell him his personal property wasn't allowed in my classroom, this student was genuinely baffled that I, or anyone else would be offended by this picture stuck in his binder cover. He was completely shocked when I told him that images like this were something called “soft porn”. And that they were the gateway to much more destructive, and hard core porn. I’m sure he thought I was crazy.
But this experience, and many more like it, set me thinking. How could I protect the children I hoped to have one day, from this kind of sexual experience? How would I teach my sons that women were not objects, and were to be admired for the brains just as much as their bodies? How would I teach my daughters that they were so much more than a pair of boobs and a good butt? I knew that this was going to be a battle. And I was prepared to fight it.
What I didn’t know then, was that the face of pornography would change so dramatically and become so much more dangerous in such a short time. You see, when I was a high school teacher 15 years ago, there were no smart phones. There was no pornography, free and ready to stream, at anyone’s fingertips. But there is now. In fact, “between 1998 and 2007, the online porn industry exploded: the number of pornographic websites grew by 1,800%.” (Fight the New Drug) Pornography is very different now that it was just 20 years ago. Because of easy, and unlimited access, kids are being exposed to pornography at younger and younger ages. Current statistics state that 90% of kids age 8-16 have been exposed to pornography. The average age for first time exposure is 11 years old. The statistics are frightening. We parents must face the reality that we are in an absolute battle for our children’s minds, and hearts, their emotional and sexual health, for their future relationships, their marriages, and their faith. For some, it will even be a battle for their very lives.
Like I said, this isn't a post I’m excited to write. I’d rather write about the beautiful and joyful parts of mothering. I’d like to share sentimental stories that make you cry, or give you a list of my favorite picture books. But the truth is, I can’t ignore this problem, and neither can you. Because this is one of the greatest battles we’ll fight in our children’s life times. We can’t hide from it any more. We must be willing to be uncomfortable. It is time to be brave. It is time to fight back!
Matt Fraud, author of the book, The Porn Myth, says this: “few things in our society are more concerning than pornography. Research is beginning to show just how harmful it is. We now know that pornography plays a role in sex trafficking, child exploitation and sexual violence. Pornography also affects the developing brains of of youth and shapes the sexual template of our entire society We are seeing unprecedented levels of sexual dysfunction in many young men and experts are attributing the trend to high levels of porn consumption. Yet many of us have been duped into believing pornography is healthy and normal…..”
The producers of pornography want you to believe the lie that you’ve been fed for years and years. The lie that pornography is no big deal. That it is harmless, and even funny. They want to normalize porn by making jokes about it on tv shows and movies. They want to trivialize porn by getting people to use the hashtag #foodporn when they post a picture of their meal on Instagram. Of course those things are a lie. Porn is a gigantic business. “Worldwide porn revenues exceed the incomes of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, and Netflix combined!” (Fight the New Drug) When there is so much money to be made, porn producers will do whatever it takes to get you, or your child, to watch their product. And to get you, or your child, addicted to pornogrpahy.
So lets look at the what happens when a child sees porn. It’s no big deal, right? Innocent curiosity? A harmless bit of teenage fun? Maybe even a healthy way to learn about sex. That’s what the pornographers want you to believe. But they could not be more wrong! While initial viewing of pornography by kids and young teens is often an accident, or unintentional, it is incredibly common for the child to return to that pornography. That is the natural human response. The trouble is, this opens the door to an host of potential trouble.
The following is an example of the many, different dangers the come of viewing porn. I know it seems unbelievable and unlikely that this could be your child’s story. But the truth is, this is the story of many young men and women. Be aware of the danger, so you can protect your child.
1. The porn consumer sees a sex act that is pure fantasy, and believes it is real. There are lights, scripts, costumes, make up, actors and editing. It is not real! But this becomes his idea of what normal sex is.
2. This sets the consumer up for unrealistic sexual expectations. And when the consumer is in a real relationship, there is a greater likelihood he’ll feel dissatisfied when his reality doesn't match the fantasy he’s been fed.
3. In a marriage relationship, this can lead to unfaithfulness. In fact, statistics state that regular porn use increases marital infidelity by 300%.
4. Porn objectifies and demeans women, thus leading the men who are watching it to take on that view of women too. This will have a powerful impact on any relationship a porn consuming male has with women.
5. Regular porn consuming easily leads to porn addiction. Research has shown that pornography is as addictive as cocaine. It actually changes pathways in the brain. It causes brain damage.
6. Porn addiction leads to depression, shame, self hatred, and even suicidal thoughts.
7. Porn addiction causes erectile dysfunction in men as young as 15 years old. It has become an actual medical problem in America as more and more young men are unable to become sexually aroused without the use of pornography.
8. A porn addict needs to consume increasingly hard core porn to get that high.
9. That means he will begin to consume porn that is violent, and includes such things as rape, and even child pornography. “The biggest sex educator of young men today is pornography, which is increasingly violent and dehumanizing, and it changes the way men view women.” (Dr. Gail Dines)
10. In the end, the videos being consumed by the porn addict contribute to sex trafficking. Because those actors have to come from somewhere. Unfortunately, many of them are victims of sex trafficking.
These are not the truths the porn industry wants you to know. They want you to believe that pornography is harmless and even a healthy sexual act. Don’t believe them. Pornography is so much deeper and darker and more dangerous than most of us will ever know.
So what can we do? How can we take steps to protect our kids from walking down this dark and dangerous road?
First, I want to assure you that we are not without hope. We serve a mighty God and His light is brighter than any darkness. But that doesn’t mean we can sit by and hope for the best. We need to take action.
Here are some ways you can protect your children from pornography.
First, be informed. Research this issue. Go to the resource guide at the end of this article, and order books, read articles, and visit websites. Knowledge will motivate you and empower you to fight.
Second, be open. Start the conversation with your kids about pornography. Let them ask questions. Read books with them if you don’t know what to say. Don’t make it just a dad and son thing. Moms, you need to talk to your sons too. And your daughters. The whole family needs to be open to this discussion.
Third, be prepared. Be ready to offer your kids a battle plan for protecting themselves from porn. And if they have already been exposed to porn, be prepared with ways to get them help.
Fourth, be diligent. Don’t give your kids smart phones with no filters and blocks on them. Don’t let them use the computer in their room alone. Don’t let them spend time with friends who have no filters on their phones. Check their devices, check their histories, and don’t let your guard down.
Fifth, be involved. Being a part of your child’s life is one of the best ways to help them avoid the pitfalls of pornography. By having a meaningful and connected relationship, you are offering them the real love that pornography never can. Let them know you are a safe harbor, a welcome place for their questions, concerns, and even mistakes. Spend as much time with them as you can, doing the things they love. Help them stay connected to the real world so they don’t crave a false one.
I know this topic is very heavy. It is my prayer that you will take this information and begin to do your part in protecting your child from pornography. May we be the generation of parents who rise up against this evil and raise children who do not delight in evil, but rejoice with the truth. (I Corinthians 13:6)
Here is a resource guide for you. There are many, many good resources on this topic out there. But the ones I recommend here are all ones I have read and used personally. There are books, articles and websites for you to look at. I urge you to take some time and go through these.
You can also listen to me speak more on this topic on the At Home podcast. Listen here.
The Porn Myth by Matt Fraud
How to Talk to your Kids About Pornography by Educate and Empower Kids
Good Pictures/Bad Pictures by Kristen A Jensen and Gail Poyner
The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch
“Please don’t give them porn for Christmas” by Tim Challies
“The Horror Stories are Real. Don’t Give you Children a Smart Phone.” by Johnathon Van Maren
“Want to Stop Sex Trafficking? Look to America’s Porn Addiction” by John-Henry Westen
“Generation XXX: 11 and 12 year Olds are Struggling With Porn More Than Ever Before” by Fight the New Drug
Fight the New Drug