Morality Media and PornHarms.com sponsored the 27th Annual National White Ribbon Against Pornography Week, Oct. 26 through Nov. 1.
Gathering resources from around the nation, free webinars were available dealing with different aspects of the fight against pornography at endsexualexploitation.org/wrap. One of the highlights was a free webinar outlining ten ways to immunize children against pornography. The webinar was led by Kristen A. Jenson and Gail A. Poyner, authors of the book Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids (the group's website is: www.gpbp.info or www.goodpicturesbadpictures.com).
“A disturbing number of children are being exposed to pornography without an understanding of how it can damage their young minds,” said Sister Jenson. The presenters said they feel so strongly that the only way kids can stay safe in a digital world is to install their own internal filter. It’s impossible for parents to monitor their kids’ digital exposure every minute of every day both in and outside the home so it’s important to teach them how to respond when they see pornography.
Using a model similar to receiving immunizations, Sister Jenson explained that using a specialized CAN DO plan (see graphic) will help children reject pornography when they first see it rather than become captivated with it.
“As a psychologist, I treat both children and adults who are addicted to pornography,” said Dr. Poyner. “Almost universally my patients report that they were exposed under the age of 11 when they were totally unprepared to deal with their sexual thoughts and feelings.”
With the CAN DO™ approach, some of the contributing factors to pornography addiction for children such as secrecy and shame are eliminated. “The first thing it will help is to minimize the shock value when kids are exposed and it will encourage kids to come and talk to a parent when they are exposed, therefore reducing the shame associated with pornography use and keeping it a secret,” said Sister Jenson. “Shame and secrecy can compel a child further into the use of pornography.”
To help parents prevent their children from becoming addicted to pornography, the presenters offered ten ways to immunize kids against pornography.
1. Don’t underestimate a child’s curiosity. “We don’t want our kids to innocently open Pandora’s Box without the tools or understanding to deal with it,” said Dr. Poyner.
2. Protect kids from soft-core porn as much as possible. Put blocks on sites that kids might be able to access.
3. Use conversation starters. For example, while looking at family pictures engage the child by saying that there are other pictures, videos or cartoons on the Internet or in books and magazines that show people without clothes on or doing inappropriate things.
4. After you define what pornography is, teach kids that pornography is tricky because it evokes two conflicting feelings at the same time. Kids may feel a pleasurable physical response at the same time they feel repulsed, horrified and upset emotionally.
5. Explain that pornography can become an addiction.
6. Keep the thinking part of the brain in charge. The rational decision making part of the brain is not fully developed until age 18 to 25, said Sister Jenson. So when a child engages a lot with the feeling brain, it can lead to risky behavior. It’s important to intentionally engage the rational brain.
7. A child who wants to run across the street to get a treat from an ice cream truck is being spurred on by his feeling brain. But in order to be safe, he needs to use his thinking brain to stop at the curb and look for oncoming cars. An addiction results when the feeling brain hijacks the thinking brain. Instead of using the thinking brain to stop and look for dangers, the addict is compelled to run out into the street, eventually getting hurt by his impulsive, addictive behavior.
8. Teach the CAN DO Plan™ . Teach kids a plan of action for dealing with pornography exposure like the CAN DO Plan™ which is fully explained in Chapter 8 of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.
9. Don’t freak out if a child has been looking at pornography. Be SMART. Stay calm. Make a plan. Assist the child to understand their feelings and regularly check in and train the entire family.
10. Make a safe place to talk about dangerous things.
(For additional information: pornproofkids.com/2014/04/25/your-child-has-viewed-porn-now-what-5-smart-tips-for-parents/)