In the Information for Parents section, under the Help a Loved One is Using Pornography tab are two important articles, one by Dan Gray, Talking to Youth and Children About Pornography, and one by Jeffrey J. Ford, Creating a Safe Plae to Talk About Dangerous Things. These articles are very helpful for parents.
- When children understand healthy sexuality they can better understand pornography. Parents must actively seek opportunities to teach children about gender roles, sex, love, and procreation. This should include the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of sex. It should begin early if you want to help shape your child’s attitudes toward sex and deflect what they hear from peers and media. Teaching begins by answering questions asked by children at any age simply and without embarrassment. This may start as early as age three, but ongoing openness should continue throughout life. Children at age eight are verbal, open, curious, less embarrassed and old enough to understand many significant concepts.
- Teaching healthy sexuality includes teaching children about their body, using correct terminology for body parts, and helping them understand that there are parts of our body that we keep private. Teaching healthy sexuality helps build openness, trust and love, which allows children to feel confident in discussing other subjects as well. If your child can access the Internet, it might be a good time to talk with them about pornography.
- Teach children what to watch for and how to respond when they encounter pornographic images or information. Open communication about pornography with family members on a regular basis reinforces the commitment to core values and family rules that are established and agreed upon.
- Parents need to monitor the use of electronic devices. Holding discussions about media use, posting guidelines for computers and drafting a family pledge signed by all members, could also be beneficial. See Pledge. Additionally, watching for negative changes in a child’s behavior is important. If you notice negative changes in your child’s behavior or are concerned about possible pornography use, talk to them and get help immediately.
- When children unexpectedly view inappropriate or even appropriate, but provocative material they often instinctively hide it from parents. Taking every opportunity to bring it out in the open is important. Parents can begin teaching about pornography simultaneously when teaching about the body. For example, if your child picks up a book that illustrates personal parts of the human body. Responding with a comment like, “I see that picture caught your interest. Do you have any questions? Let’s talk about it.” Likewise, when they view something pornographic or that you consider inappropriate, acknowledge the material without discomfort or surprise. You might say, “I see that caught your attention. When we run across those kinds of pictures it is important to change the channel [close the book, throw it away, etc.]. and then tell one of your parents.” Then explain why you consider the material to be inappropriate.
- Teaching a child about what to do when they see pornography is just as important as teaching a child what to do if they are exposed to any other drug. Your responses that send a clear message to your child that helps them gain accurate information are can serve as a resource when they have questions. Your children need to see that you know what kinds of things are out there, that you are not shocked or embarrassed by them and that you have clear boundaries and rules for the material you view.
- Respond to young children openly and factually with simple statements and explanations. As children get older you will have to look for opportunities to have more detailed discussions and find ways to deal with topics and issues that might not come up on their own.