Studies show that, even if adults take measures such as limiting their Internet access, today’s children are likely to encounter sexually explicit images and pornography by the age of 10.
Sexual imagery is so prevalent in advertising, on television, and on the Internet that even young children are exposed to it, despite adult efforts to limit access. Whether they deliberately seek it or not, today’s children are likely to encounter Internet pornography before they become teenagers.
Most parents and caregivers accept that sexual curiosity and sexual arousal are normal and healthy. They also know that pornography endangers children and adolescents. Porn may seem to present answers to a young person’s questions, yet parents and caregivers will want to understand, and to counsel their children, that pornography is a grossly misleading substitute for comprehensive, holistic, and respectful sexuality education.
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Porn is intended for adults and is harmful to children and youth. Pornography is harmful for children and youth in the following ways –
- No matter what your child’s gender or sexual orientation, porn provides unrealistic information about sexual activity and desire.
- Pornography can create confusing, guilty, and uncomfortable feelings that young people are unprepared to manage.
- Pornographic scenarios are unlikely to demonstrate respect, consent, or safer sex practices.
- Pornographic images are created to entertain adult viewers and make money for producers. Most of the situations depicted are unrealistic.
Some questions to help you to prepare for a conversation with your child –
- Once my child has seen porn, how can I respond? What messages do I, as an adult, want to share?
- How comfortable am I about having a conversation about pornography with my child? How comfortable might they feel discussing it with me?
- How does my household’s values or faith principles provide a foundation for a conversation about pornography?
- What safety measures am I taking / can I take to ensure that children will not access any porn that adults may use in our home?
- What can I do to help my child understand the difference between pornography and sex education?
Answering these questions for yourself prior to a conversation with your child can help the conversation to go more smoothly.
These resources are from “Parents as Sexuality Educators” – a Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry Program