New Church Video Helps Parents Talk to Children about Pornography
Contributed By Sarah Burchett, Church News staff writer
- A new video helps parents and leaders talk to children about intimacy and the dangers of pornography.
- Child narrators present a three-step plan for other children to follow if they are exposed to pornographic material.
- It is never too early to begin talking to children about their bodies.
- As families counsel together and make plans to defend themselves against pornography, they can have a home filled with the Spirit.
“As we counsel with our children, together we can create a family plan with standards and boundaries, being proactive to protect our homes. … As we do, the influence of the Spirit will begin to fill our homes and our lives.” —Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency
The average child will be exposed to pornography by the time they are 11 years old. This sobering statistic means it’s never too early to begin talking to children about the remarkable gift of their bodies and the harmful effects of pornography.
A new video produced by the Church helps parents and leaders do just that.
The video, “ What Should I Do When I See Pornography ?” is available as part of a series of family home evening lessons on the overcomingpornography.org website. Lee Gibbons, an LDS Church home focus product manager, said he hopes the video will help families lose the stigmas of fear and shame so often associated with talking about sex.
What will I see in the video?
“What Should I Do When I See Pornography?” features children defining pornography and explaining the dangers behind it. It also teaches how our brains and bodies react to pornographic material and what children should do when they come in contact with it.
The video presents a three-step plan for children to follow if they come in contact with pornography::
- Call it what it is. (For example: “That’s pornography.” “That’s immodest.”)
- Turn it off and turn away.
- Talk to a trusted adult.
In what settings could I share the video with children and youth?
Brother Gibbons said the video is formatted for use in a variety of settings, including:
- Family home evening
- One-on-one discussions between parents and individual children.
- A bishop’s fifth-Sunday lesson to adults.
- A conversation between a bishop and the youth in his ward.
Is it too early to talk to children about pornography and sex?
Children are always old enough to begin learning concepts such as:
- Our bodies are amazing gifts from a loving Heavenly Father.
- It's important to respect our bodies and take good care of them.
- Positive and respectful physical affection between family members and spouses.
- Modesty and why certain parts of our bodies are special and should remain covered.
“It is really important for parents of young children to understand that there is no research that supports the notion that earlier discussions and exposure to teaching healthy sexuality draws children into pornography use earlier or causes that they are ‘switched on’ too early,” Brother Gibbons said.
In fact, research shows the opposite effect. Parents who openly speak with their children about sexuality prepare them for situations they may find themselves in and typically have fewer children who become sexually active in their teens.
“What Should I Do When I See Pornography?” is designed for senior Primary-age children. Brother Gibbons said he hopes this age group finds the video to be “engaging, informative, and somewhat entertaining” while still preparing them to react appropriately when they encounter pornographic material.
“As parents, you will know what they are ready for,” Brother Gibbons said, “and you will work out your own pace of developing these foundational conversations and interactions that will protect them and enable ongoing conversations—some of which will be initiated by your children as they feel at ease to do so.”
How can I keep conversations about healthy sexuality ongoing and open?
Brother Gibbons suggests parents approach topics on sexuality as they would any other topic—with openness, kindness, and understanding. Always be on the lookout for learning and teaching moments.
By being frank and honest, you can help your children develop a sense of trust that allows them to come forward when they need help dealing with encounters and challenges with pornography. “What Should I Do When I See Pornography?” is a gateway to having conversations about intimacy and establishing trust.
Make these topics a part of everyday conversation:
- Expressions of affection and acceptance
- Healthy relationships
- Attraction (not lust)
- Intimacy (not just sex, but general human emotional connections)
Seek opportunities to point out sexually charged advertising, movie, or TV content, taking the chance to talk about what you’ve encountered. Brother Gibbons gave the following example of a conversation a parent might have with his or her children.
“What does a woman in a bikini have to do with a hamburger? Why would the advertisers try to use her attractiveness to make us think about their restaurant? Did you feel attracted? Did you feel like you should turn away?
“That’s why I turned off the TV for a minute. Those feelings of attraction are from our Father in Heaven to help us build strong families. I’m attracted to Mom/Dad, but these advertisers are trying to get us to associate those kinds of feelings with their products. Pretty sneaky, I think.”
How will my family benefit from watching this video?
Brother Gibbons said he hopes the video will help families lose:
- Fearof talking about sex. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of kids becoming ‘over-sexed’ at ‘too young’ of an age.
- Doubtsof parents’ ability to have ongoing conversations that prepare children before they are exposed to pornography.
- Shameused to frighten kids into ‘avoiding’ pornography.
Shame-based approaches to dealing with children who have encountered pornography sends the message that “porn is bad” and only evil people are attracted to porn, Brother Gibbons explained. Children may interpret this to mean that sex is bad or that their natural feelings of attraction are bad. “These kids are far more likely to explore porn because they feel attracted to it and then see themselves as evil because they are attracted to something that is bad,” he said.
Resources like “What Should I Do When I See Pornography?” are available to help families lose these stigmas and gain trust, understanding, and love.
Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, promised: “As we counsel with our children, together we can create a family plan with standards and boundaries, being proactive to protect our homes. … As we do, the influence of the Spirit will begin to fill our homes and our lives” (“ Protection from Pornography—a Christ-Focused Home ,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014).