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Helping parents teach their children about pornography

For many parents in the Church, talking to their children about pornography seems like a daunting and difficult task. New resources produced by the Church are meant to help parents — and leaders — talk to young people about sacred and sometimes sensitive topics.

“Many parents find it challenging to speak with their children about certain aspects of sexualized media and pornography,” said Howard Bangerter, product manager with Welfare Services who works on the Overcoming Pornography website for the Church.

Although there are many resources available to help people recover from an addiction, in the past there hasn’t been as many resources available for families wanting to take a proactive approach and focus on prevention. To fill that void, the Church has recently put together a series of family home evening ideas to help parents talk to their children about human sexuality and pornography in an appropriate way.

“Statistically speaking, most children will eventually be exposed to pornography,” Brother Bangerter said. “If you are a parent, it can be hard to know what to do when that happens. These family home evening lessons were designed help parents to talk about these things with their children, to teach them — and perhaps themselves — some of these very sacred principles and practical approaches.”

Reminding people that there are many resources available through LDS Family Services to help people recover, Brother Bangerter said that just as important as those resources are the preventive resources now available.

“The Church has many resources to help those who struggle recover from the challenges we face in life — welfare resources such as storehouses, welfare farms, family services, employment centers, even addiction recovery programs,” Brother Bangerter said. “With these family home evening lessons, we felt there was an opportunity to build in preventive defenses — to inoculate children against the negative aspects of exposure to pornography.”

Created with the intention to help parents teach their children how to appropriately respond to inappropriate or pornographic content, the lessons are divided into four topics and are available on the Church’s website overcomingpornography.org.

The four topics — “My body is from God,” “The Spirit can help me choose good media,” “What should I do if I see pornography?” and “The Savior desires to forgive and heal the wounds of pornography,” do not need to be taught in a sequential order, but are available for parents to teach as the Spirit directs.

In each lesson parents are encouraged to first prepare themselves spiritually so they are able to follow the Spirit’s direction. The lessons simply state the doctrine and include a list of scriptures and talks of Church leaders that support the topic. Bulleted lists of ideas give parents a variety of topics to discuss. Each lesson contains a list of age appropriate activities geared towards both children and youth, and includes an invitation to act.

Parents, with the guidance of the Spirit, are able to select the references and activities that will work best for their family. They are intended to facilitate families learning together.

“The outcomes are what matters in all of this,” said Lee Gibbons, project manager with the Priesthood Department. “And we’ve had reports of people using these lessons very effectively.”

Although the resources were created as a help for parents putting together family home evening lessons, the resources can be used for personal or family study. Church leaders can draw from the resources when putting together lessons or talks.

The topic “What should I do if I see pornography?” gives an action plan in case accidental exposure occurs, encouraging individuals to “call it what it is, turn it off or turn away, and then talk to your parents.”

“Recently we heard of a 13-year-old boy who was assigned to give an FHE lesson on his own,” said Brother Gibbons. “He went to the home page of lds.org and saw a link from the site to the lessons. By using the lesson outline, he taught his parents and four younger brothers.”

The young man was able to talk to his younger brothers about what they should do if they come across harmful media.

“They are equipped now, these young men, when they encounter not just pornography, but sexualized media,” said Brother Gibbons. “They’ll have a response that’s an if/then kind of a plan. If I see this then I’ll do that. They’ll be in a better position to respond and deflect this.”

Brother Gibbons said that Church members have been warned and have heard wonderful guidance from Church leaders. The problem comes after they have slipped into a problem by way of curiosity. Unfortunately, pornography has a way of finding people, less typical the other way around. It is important to have those conversations so youth are prepared for when they encounter pornography or any inappropriate media.

The website also offers help for parents by giving ideas of how they can protect their family through regular family counsels, learning how to communicate and discuss sensitive topics, recognizing changes in their children’s behavior, helping children understand their bodies are sacred and about sexual intimacy.

“Parents have a sacred duty to teach their children and instill righteous values in them,” the Overcoming Pornography website states.“Parents who have open discussions and talks with their children about sexual intimacy and its role in our Heavenly Father’s plan help protect their children from the influence of the adversary.”

To access the lesson outlines and other resources visit overcomingpornography.org.

[email protected] @marianne_holman

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