Children and teens are being bombarded with falsehoods about gender roles, sex, love and procreation. Sexuality is sacred. It is important that parents not abdicate their responsibility to actively teach children regarding healthy sexuality, as well as its counterfeit – pornography.
For many children, teens and young adults, their main education about sexuality comes from their peers, TV and movies, and from viewing pornography. This “education” is devoid of a value system and makes no connection with sexuality and honesty, commitment, compassion, empathy and selflessness. It is human sexuality devoid of human intimacy, the exact opposite of God’s divine plan. Elder M. Russell Ballard states, “As our children grow, they need information taught by parents more directly and plainly about what is and is not appropriate. Parents need to teach children to avoid any pornographic photographs or stories… talk to them plainly about sex… let this information come from parents in the home in an appropriate way.” (April 1999, General Conference Ensign, May 1999, 85-87.)
Parents should take active measures to limit their children’s exposure to pornography by installing internet filters, placing computers in safe locations, establishing clear standards for media use as a family, and not allowing cell phones in bedrooms. But parents must remember that, even with these precautions, they cannot fully protect their children against pornography exposure.
Specific actions parents have taken to combat this problem:
- Have regular talks with your children, teens and young adults, where you discuss their exposure to pornography. Start the first talk with, “I remember the first time I saw pornography . . . . tell me about your first time” and then follow up this talk with regular discussions.
- Be informed –teach your children, teens and young adults about the physical, emotional and social dangers of pornography, not just the spiritual dangers.
- Teach healthy sexuality, marriage centered chastity, and the benefits of sexual restraint, so that your children can develop a personal moral code.
- Read He Restoreth My Soul, by Donald L Hilton and What’s the Big Deal About Pornography by Jill C. Manning.
External monitoring will not be sufficient to protect children from pornography. In addition, parents must teach children correct principles and healthy sexuality to build moral conviction, in order to help them develop a sense of internal monitoring.
- Healthy sexuality
- Marriage centered chastity
- The importance of avoiding pornography
- The need for open discussion about experiences with pornography
- Consequences of improper sexuality
- Benefits of sexual self-discipline
As parents become educated, teach their children and seek the Lord’s guidance, they can protect their homes from pornography and help their children to gain a healthy perspective that will enable them to walk away from this addictive material when they are exposed to it.
How Do I Start the Conversation?
It’s important for parents to initiate periodic conversations with their pre-teens and teens, concerning pornography. Many kids as young as 8 or 9 have been exposed to pornography. Virtually all teens have been exposed, and many are viewing pornography on a regular basis. Here are some ideas about how to talk to your pre-teen or teenager.
- I read a book and thought you’d be interested in some of the things I learned . . .
- I heard something (read something) about pornography on the internet which got me to thinking
- I read that most kids your age have seen pornography – I remember my first time (it actually helps to share your experience) – what was yours?
- There’s an internet site, SALifeline.org, that talks about the problem of pornography and has a section for teens . . .
- An article on the internet says that all teens are exposed to internet pornography – do you believe that?
- When was the last time you viewed pornography?
You may want to explain what it is you’re going to be talking about. Here are some simple definitions:
What is pornography? Pornography is material specifically designed to arouse sexual feelings in people by depicting nudity, sexual behavior, or any type of sexual information through videos, pictures or writing.
What is masturbation? Masturbation is touching, stimulating, or rubbing one’s owns genitals in order to feel sexually aroused and/or experience orgasm. When someone masturbates while looking at pornography, the brain becomes “rewired” and that person becomes less able to respond to healthy sexual experiences. Pornography and masturbation create a totally self-centered sexuality, devoid of honest emotional bonds with another person.
Address one or more of these information topics in your conversation.
- Why is sex good and pornography bad?
- What should I do if I can’t stop looking at pornography?
- Sometimes pornography accidently pops up on my computer – what should I do?
- When a friend has a porn magazine, I don’t want to be uncool – what should I do?
- I saw some stuff and now I can’t get it out of my head – what should I do?
Parents need to have a pornography check up with their teens, every 6 months from age 12 to 18 Silence is no longer and option, and will only open the door for more shame and continued use of pornography. Become comfortable with the subject and be open and honest with your teenager. This topic if approached with a spirit of openness will actually strengthen your relationship with your child.