Pornography is a serious topic, which apparently still stirs up some controversy. When I've written on this subject in the past, I've received some backlash from readers who insist it's "no big deal', that it's "just sex" or that viewing porn as a couple (seemingly) helps their marriage.
Wherever you stand on the issue of pornography's harmful effects in adult relationships, we all should be aware that young children are viewing pornography with or without the knowledge of their parents.
One kid told another about "extreme porn"
In an article on For Every Mom, the author recounted a situation shared with her by another mom friend of hers. The friend shared the story of her fifth grade son. "During the school day, at a time when he and a friend were in a scenario where they could chat and talk without a grown-up overhearing (how many times does this occur? On the bus, between classes at lockers, at recess or lunch ...), a friend said to him, 'Have you ever seen extreme porn? You should! Just get on YouTube and search "rape" and you can watch it.'"
Keep in mind, these boys are only 10 to 11 years old.
Luckily, the parents had carefully educated their son before the incident occurred -discussing what porn (and sex in general) is and if he ever had questions, he could talk to them about it. So, instead of going to YouTube as the friend had suggested, he told his parents. They went to the principal with the information who stated something dismissive (the boy in question is the youngest in a large family of boys) as if that's an excuse.
"Boys will be boys" and other excuses
Dismissing behavior because of gender, because of natural tendencies, because of how they were raised, because of other influences, etc., etc., etc... is a complete disservice to the person in question and to anyone hurt by his or her actions.
What about teaching kids right and wrong and that they are accountable for their own actions regardless of what anyone else is doing? How about raising our expectations for children rather than making excuses for them when they make a mistake? How about using mistakes as teaching moments?
And when it comes to pornography - for kids and adults, for males and females - we all need to know just how harmful it is.
Pornography affects the brain
There's a reason it's called a pornography "addiction." According to Fight the New Drug, "Repeated consumption of porn causes the brain to literally rewire itself. It triggers the brain to pump out chemicals and form new nerve pathways, leading to profound and lasting changes in the brain."
"Porn happens to be fantastic at forming new, long-lasting pathways in the brain. In fact, porn is such a ferocious competitor that hardly any other activity can compete with it, including actual sex with a real partner."
Pornography is addictive and will destroy any natural happiness and joy in life.
Pornography doesn't just hurt the viewer
Pornography gives unrealistic expectations of sex and love. What you may see on the screen is nowhere near reality. Fight the New Drug states:
"Two of the most respected pornography researchers, Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman at the University of Alabama, studied the effects of porn and media for more than 30 years. They found that consuming pornography makes many individuals less satisfied with their own partners' physical appearance, sexual performance, sexual curiosity, and affection. They also found that, over time, many porn users grow more callous toward females in general, less likely to value monogamy and marriage, and more likely to develop distorted perceptions of sexuality."
Pornography portrays unrealistic depictions of women which is obviously harmful in real life. These fake scenarios show women who always want sex, scenes of violence against women, and scenes that are otherwise degrading toward women.
Porn is not real life, and yet, every week you can pull up news stories about rape and sexual abuse against adults and children - no doubt these crimes are a contributing result of pornography usage.
Pornography is NOT a way to teach children, or to learn, about sex. Pornography is counterfeit, taking much more away than it gives. Children need to be taught about what pornography is and what to do when they see it - because the chances are, they probably have encountered pornography already. Smartphones and the internet make pornography easily accessible. It's on social media, it's in spam emails, it's in app searches and on YouTube ... all things your child has access to.
Teach your child to immediately come to you when they see pornography and tell them you will never be mad at them for telling you they saw it, whether it happened on purpose or by accident. Talk to your children about how they felt seeing it and be open to discuss questions children may have about what they saw. Let them know they did the right thing by telling you.
Additionally, talk to your children about sex. Pornography often comes up because children are naturally curious about their bodies and sex. Remove the mystery around sex by discussing it in an age-appropriate way and by answering their questions willingly.
Above all, create meaningful relationships with your children so they are comfortable talking to you as serious issues. They will trust you as you keep a healthy parent-child relationship with them. They need to be able to rely on you for correct information that will keep them safe.
Wendy is a regular contributor for familyshare.com and does media reviews. Website: https://survivorshopeandhealing.wordpress.com/ for victims of sexual abuse. Blog: https://wendyejessen.wordpress.com Twitter: @WendyJessen