According to the Internet Filter Review, approximately 40 million U.S. adults regularly visit pornographic websites, and conservatively, one in eight visitors to an adult site is age 7 to 17. Roughly 29% of these children give out their home addresses; 14% give out their personal and private email addresses. And, the average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is age 11.
Those who have the highest rate of hard-core exposures are 15-17 year olds. While doing their homework, 90% of both boys and girls have viewed porn online. Despite the lack of an official DSM diagnosis category, addiction professionals generally agree on the definition of sexual addiction.
In simple terms, sexual addiction is the lack of control regarding a sexual behavior or relationship. A practical definition is this: Sexual behavior that creates distress and has a harmful effect on one’s life. As with alcohol and drugs, sex addiction fits the classic model of what comprises an addiction with the basic components:
- Preoccupation or obsession.
- Compulsivity means the loss of control over a behavior.
- Continuation despite negative consequences.
There is enormous shame that surrounds sex addiction in general and an even greater stigma for adolescents. Despite the jokes, there is a cultural double standard regarding sexual behavior—“boys will be boys,” and “girls are whores.” It is extremely difficult for a family to admit that they have a child with this addiction. One reason teens are often overlooked in this discussion is because teens themselves fail to tell anyone about their struggles.
Sadly, many teens keep silent about the problem, because they fear being alone. One young man reported to me while in treatment, “For years I thought I was the only one who battled like this. I can’t believe that you have treated many others just like me. For the first time in my life I don’t feel all alone and ashamed.”
As more clinicians become aware of adolescents’ experiences with this addiction, and as other adolescents hear stories of others their same age tell their stories, hopefully more children will get help before they become adults.
The good news? There is treatment available. Intensives are for teens wanting help to live free—to better understand healthy relationships and sexuality.
If you want information about Teen 2- and 3-Day Intensives, visit our Teen Intensives page or give me a call at 719-644-5557.