Along with all the other resources we buy and opportunities we create for our kids to help educate them and equip them with life skills, in today’s hypersexualised society I believe it’s absolutely necessary to figure out how to help children know what to do about pornography. As a parent it’s a scary topic to think about but deep down I felt I personally needed to intentionally empower my children with the knowledge and the steps to take when (because it is a matter of when, not if) they come into contact with porn. And I’m so glad I did! I feel a weight off my shoulders that my kids are now comfortable talking about the subject with me now and when the need arises in the future.
I will be the first to admit that it’s not a fun topic to discuss – especially when you do a bit of research about the distrubingly violent trends in mainstream pornograpy and how easily kids access it, even accidentally – but it is so important to address the subject sooner rather than later. Our kids need us to step up to the challenge and help them, instead of shying away when it feels uncomfortable. In this post you will learn about why it’s so vital to think about this topic and find out about a few resources that can help prepare you for the sometimes tricky conversations to have with your children.
“Your children are growing up in a different world than you did–a world where a predatory porn industry is seeking to hook your vulnerable children as early as possible.” via Protect Young Minds
Today I’m honoured to have Kristen Jenson sharing her knowledge and wisdom with us. Kristen is the founder of Protect Young Minds™ and best-selling author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids and Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds. She serves on the Prevention Task Force of the National Coalition on Sexual Exploitation. She received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature and her master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen is the mother of three children, and currently lives in Washington State.
Why is it important for parents to address the issue of pornography with their kids?
Kids are curious! Their brains are hard-wired to be curious and that’s exactly why parents need to talk to their kids about pornography earlier rather than later. I join many experts who believe that the days when parents could avoid the subject of pornography in the hope of not fostering curiosity are long gone.
If you introduce it, you can also introduce your attitudes about it and set yourself up as the best source of information. You can assure your child that you will answer all of their questions.
You can assure them that their curiosity is normal, but warn them that following their curiosity about pornography is dangerous and can lead to addiction and other problems.
When should parents start thinking about this topic?
Even 3 years olds are on iPads and can see inappropriate content. But, having said that, it’s crucial that parents begin talks about sex earlier than they might expect. First begin with naming the private body parts by using their real names, not cutesy names. Girls should know boy parts and boys should know girl parts. Second, children need to feel that no question is off limits and no question of theirs is shameful.
I recently joined with an expert to complete a series of in-depth interviews with 10 porn addicts. All of them had different stories, but they had one thing in common: none of their parents taught them about sex earlier enough to make a difference.
The truth is that parents are competing with the porn industry for the sexual templates of their children. If you don’t begin early to teach kids healthy attitudes about sex, popular culture and the porn industry will teach them a degraded view of sex that will be harmful to their future happiness.
Can you tell us more about your book?
It all started when I received a late night phone call from a traumatized mother who told me about her 17 year old son. He had been sexually molesting his younger siblings—imitating the pornography he’d been viewing from the time he was in elementary school. The next morning I searched for a children’s book to explain the dangers of pornography addiction and provide an action plan for how to keep kids safe online. But I couldn’t find any. So I wrote and published Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids in consultation with Dr. Gail Poyner, a licensed psychologist, to fill this much-needed resource gap.
I have found that even parents who know a lot about the brain-damaging effects of pornography have difficulties knowing how to begin the conversation with their young kids. This isn’t surprising. How do you talk to kids about an adult issue that involves sex and yet make it appropriate for kids? How do parents warn young kids before their child becomes interested in pornography and while the child still sees the parent as a credible source of information?
This is why it took almost 3 years to write the original Good Pictures Bad Pictures! We wanted to make sure parents could read this book to kids BEFORE they had the sex talk, because as we all know, young kids have access to the internet and are getting exposed to hardcore material at younger and younger ages.
So what exactly is in the book?
Both Good Pictures Bad Pictures books will help accomplish these crucial tasks for parenting in the digital age:
First, you’ll give your kids a working definition of what pornography is and the vocabulary to talk about it. They’ll recognize pornography when they see it and have the words to report exposure to you. Plus, you’ll open up the discussion and bring this very dark danger into the light of day. You’ll let your kids know you want them to come and talk with you and ask you their questions, and you’ll set yourself up as the expert who wants to help them stay safe.
Second, you’ll be able to explain that pornography can be harmful to their developing brain and view of the world.
Third, you’ll empower kids with a specific plan to deal with the highly memorable and often tantalizing memories that exposure to pornography creates. They’ll know exactly what to do! The feedback we’re receiving is that kids get excited about protecting their brains. In our original book, we use the words CAN DO as an acronym for the plan which makes it easy for kids to remember and inspires confidence that they CAN DO what they need to do to minimize porn’s impact on their thoughts.
The first part of the plan (CAN) helps kids respond appropriately the moment they are exposed to pornography. The second part of the plan (DO) helps kids neutralize the shocking memories that seeing pornography creates.
My new Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. gives even younger kids a “Turn, Run and Tell” plan. Using either of these plans will empower kids to fight back against accidental exposure to harmful, explicit pornography. Every child deserves to the tools to protect themselves against pornography!
With all these strategies in place, kids stand a much better chance of rejecting pornography when they see it and are curious about it.
My team and I have pulled together practical tools and advice from experts to answer your most agonizing questions so you don’t have to face this challenge alone. Whether you’re looking to prepare kids with a plan to prevent addiction, help and heal kids who have already been hurt, or share and speak up to educate your community, we have resources to help you on our website Protect Young Minds.
- The blog keeps proactive parents current with news and helpful tips
- Our Quick-Start Guide empowers parents step-by-step with a plan to protect their kids
- Our Smart Parents Guide helps kids begin to heal from pornography exposure or use
- Our Ambassador Kit supports advocates who want to give every child in their community the tools they need to build a porn-free life.
Both Good Pictures Bad Pictures books can be purchased from Amazon, where it’s a #1 Best Seller. If you’d like to get it at your local bookstore, contact email@example.com.
Thanks to Kristen for sharing with us today.
Have you read Kristen’s book with your kids? What other resources might you know about to help protect kids against the harmful effects of pornography?
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Our family was sent a copy of Good Pictures Bad Pictures for review purposes. All opinions are my own. To read more about sponsorship on my website, visit this page.