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What To Do If Your Child Has Been Exposed To Porn

Sex Ed

What To Do If Your Child Has Been Exposed To Porn

Q: Is there a video or other resource available to give age-appropriate information to children who have been prematurely exposed to it and why it is not a good thing to view porn?

There is. I have written a book about that same subject and it is in the process of finding a publisher. I also have an online webinar that I am preparing. Meanwhile, I will share with you the main three points I advise parents to keep in mind in such situations:

  1. Breathe

If your child has seen adult content, the first thing to do is BREATHE. Stay calm. Don’t do more harm by freaking out. Think of it this way: Just like when your toddler falls, it is best to stay cool. A toddler sometimes seeks out their parent to gauge how severe the fall was; they can register it from the look on your face or the pitch of your voice. You take it seriously, and by staying calm, your child is assured that you can handle the situation.

Now is not the time to go into questions like “who showed you this” and “why did you do this” or “what were you thinking”. This will not help the child process what happened. You can deal with these questions later if you then still believe that it is important. Also, do not get hyper and have your voice go to the range that only dogs can hear. That is confusing and not helpful.

  1. Ask

Ask your child what they felt and thought. Most likely your child was grossed out by what they saw. You can start by validating that – lots of the porn or adult content that is available is strange even to adults. Imagine if you are seeing it for the first time!

If you do not know where to start, then the easiest thing to do is to ask your child what they already know. Often this includes some misconceptions you can simply correct (like “the man pees inside the woman”).

You can also ask what they were looking for – sometimes children stumble on it unknowingly, other times they know exactly what they want to see. Maybe your child knows about sex already. Maybe they are older and are already starting to think about sex. Maybe they are considering to have sex for the first time. Asking allows you to respond at your child’s maturity level.

  1. Share

It is crucial to communicate to your children of any age that searching the web (specifically searching for porn content) is NOT the best idea when looking for sex education. Porn is terrible sex education; it is not even real sex! Just like a romantic comedy, porn is someone else’s fantasy put on film. It is created for adults and does not portray sex in a realistic way.

Another important item is to share that “there are things you can’t unsee.” You can relate to something they were scared or affected by and ask them if they wished they hadn’t been exposed to it in the first place (for me it was the movie “Alien”).

Also, you can share that viewing porn is not good when you are not ready for it. A child does not know how to process it, especially when no one around will talk about sexuality. I’ve heard people use the excuse that generally telling kids about sex “breaches the firewall of innocence.” I argue that NOT telling a child about sex keeps them ignorant about a very basic human behavior, and this will lead to much confusion for the kid growing up and being exposed to other sexual behavior, imagery and concepts. There is a big difference between acknowledging and encouraging; I am only suggesting that you acknowledge sexuality.

Make sure to follow up with real information about what sex is. Most parents look for age-appropriate information; the fact is all children are different. Even within the family, siblings can be vastly different in mental, emotional, and intellectual readiness for information about sexuality. Unless one knows your family history and background, relating specifics is tough. Information from books or sites will give a range of ages because there can be huge variance (e.g., first menstruation can be between ages 9 and 16 with an average of 12). I offer private coaching for parents to help relearn or reframe the information about sexuality that is useful and pertinent for your specific child.

A Final Word

Let me finish this post with a remark about the word “exposed”. There are worse things that kids are exposed to and some of these we do not think twice. Violence in cartoons for children comes to mind (e.g. Bugs Bunny and Road Runner). What does the depiction of violence do to our children long term, where characters repeatedly harm each other but suffer no real consequences? As a society we do not think about that very much. Yet, when it comes to sex and nudity we are petrified of perceived long-term consequences. Which one are you more likely to be exposed to again and again? Violence is more damaging in my mind than viewing (most) sex acts.

Some of the adult content that is out there is scary and confusing and bizarre. The important point is to make porn viewing as much of a non-event as possible but also, enough of a lesson that children learn not to do it again. My bottom line is it is not the porn viewing that is ultimately so damaging – it is the reaction of the adults that can be problematic.

If you want more information about private coaching, webinars, or my book when it becomes available, contact me at mamasutra@me.com

Xxoo

The MamaSutra


This article has been republished with permission from Lanae St.John.
Please visit Lanae St.John’s website  to view the original post and more of Lanae’s works.


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Lanae St.John

Lanae St.John is a San Francisco Bay Area based Sexy Mamas Blogger, BoardCertified Sexologist, and Sex Educator. Her work with clients normalizes conversations about sexuality between parents and children, while helping adults to discover a more sexually positive outlook. By teaching parents to nurture the budding sexuality of their children in ways that foster self-respect and acceptance for the totality of their personhood, she helps them raise children who become empowered, beautiful, strong, sexually healthy adults. Lanae also coaches couples and individuals on their sexual questions and concerns, helping them to optimize their sexual experiences and achieve healthy adult sexuality via a sex-positive approach to sexual education. Lanae received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1991. She completed the Associate in Sex Education and Clinical Sexology before going on to receive her Masters in Human Sexuality in 2011 from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate studying Human Sexuality. Ms St.John is a contributing sexpert on the sex education site What They Are Asking.com. She is also co-founder for the site NotSoSecret.com, a site that seeks to empower women to discover and enjoy their own sexuality. She is a Sex & Relationship Panelist for the popular site Dick-n-Jane.com and is also an expert on gasm.org, a website combining sex educators and medical professionals together to talk about the female orgasm. Her blog, “The MamaSutra®” on Good Vibrations’ website, was voted into the Top 25 SF Bay Area Mom Blogs in 2011 and she was listed #1 in the GetLusty.com 30 Must-”Like” Sex-Positive Facebook Pages. Lanae also co-hosted Season 1 of a show called Sexxx Talk Radio on the Progressive Radio Network – the podcast can be found on iTunes. As The MamaSutra®, Lanae has been featured as a sex-positive parenting expert in SSEX BBOX – a web series documentary featuring people and experts from four cities around the world. Lanae is also featured in the not-yet released feature length documentary “Revolutionary Sex” (working title) by NuReality Productions. In March 2013, Lanae was part of a contingent of Sexologists to travel to China. She lectured on Childhood Sexuality: Fostering Growth Into Sexually Healthy Adults to the Chinese Sexology Association and was asked to submit her paper to The Chinese Journal of Human Sexuality. Coming soon, Ms. St.John can also be found as one of the Expert Faculty of Sex Coach U and as one of Dr. Ava Cadell’s “Love Coach All Stars”. A Board Certified Sexologist (American College of Sexologists, A.C.S.), Lanae is also a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (S.S.S.S), The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (A.A.S.E.C.T.) and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (I.S.S.W.S.H.) Lanae is the proud mother of two daughters with whom she actively embodies her message of empowerment, freedom of expression, and a sex- and body-positive mentality.

Get in touch with Lanae via email at MamaSutra@me.com

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