Prevalence of Porn
When I first started doing this work back in 2000, statistics revealed that the average age of first exposure to porn was around 13. In 2005, The American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that 42 percent of children ages 10 to 17 have seen online pornography in the past year. Now, because of the prevalence of pornography on the Internet, several reports suggest that the age has dropped to 8.
Many of my colleagues report a higher incidence of counseling more preteens (and teens). It isn’t just boys viewing pornography—sadly, counselors describe seeing more girls who compulsively view pornography. This is very disturbing since the earlier the exposure, the more deep-rooted an addiction may become.
Power of Porn
The mother I spoke about earlier described what was happening with her precious daughter. She shared how they had set up protection and accountability in their home. However, her daughter still continued to look for ways to access pornography.
I listened as she described all I had learned in recent years about the power of pornography on a young brain. She described how it changed her daughter’s mood. The daughter spoke many times about the images she couldn’t get out of her mind. On many occasions she told her mother how she was preoccupied with sexual thoughts. It changed the way that she looked at people. The mother wept as she said, “My daughter is no longer innocent.”
Preventing Porn Addiction
When I think of the numerous parents that I have spoken to in recent years, I see some things that parents could do differently that might prevent their preteen from falling victim to this addiction. While no prevention plan guarantees a porn-proof child, taking these steps can help.
Protect. With today’s technology proliferation, pornography is easily accessible and almost impossible to avoid. Every home needs a protection plan to safeguard their children. It is so important for parents to be a good example with accountability software on their own devices. Of course, it helps to model healthy boundaries in the movies and shows viewed and the material you read.
Train. You can do everything possible to protect your children, and still they may encounter pornography at school or at a friend’s house. The real battle won’t be accomplished through mere behavioral change. It is important to prepare your child’s heart and mind to fight for their future in three ways.
- Teach the biblical perspective of sacred sex. It is preposterous to think that “the talk” will fulfill your role as a parent. God calls you to nurture and develop a healthy sense of sexuality in your children. There are many opportunities as you raise your children to intentionally teach them God’s plan for relationships and sex. By discussing sex in a positive, appropriate, and God-honoring way, you can help your children combat the lies of pornography and the world.
- Warn them of the dangers. Some parents mistakenly worry that warning their children about pornography will incite a harmful curiosity. Studies reveal that the opposite is true. Children are less likely to look at porn when they are alerted to its dangers. Age-appropriate conversations can start as early as preschool. Why not? We warn them at that age about strangers and bad touch.
- Maintain open communication. In my experience, children often feel guilt and shame even when they unintentionally stumble upon pornography.You can best help your children by keeping communication open and declaring your unconditional love for them.
Pray. A parent can pray many things for their children. The following prayer is a simple way to start. You will have perhaps other things on your heart
Give me wisdom and discernment in the raising of my child(ren)
Help me to lead by worthy and Christ-like example
May I teach them Your precepts and truth and light
I ask for Your strong arms of protection
May they honor You with their body
Turn their eyes away from worthless things and
Above all, I pray they will love You, Abba Father, with their whole heart and being.