Why You Need to Talk to Your Kids about Porn

sexy woman (3) bThe first time I saw porn was in the woods near the baseball fields in Parkersburg, WV.  My buddies and I were 9 or 10 and one of our friends grabbed us after our Little League game and led us to a hollow tree.  He reached inside and pulled out – a Playboy centerfold! It was folded up and a little weather-worn, but captivating, nonetheless.  I even got to check it out a couple more times over the summer, bringing along some new initiates, but it eventually disappeared, likely ending up under somebody’s mattress.

That’s no big deal now.  In my household – with me, my wife, my 8-year-old step-son, and our 5-year-old daughter – we regularly get Victoria Secret catalogs in the mail that are just about as pornographic as that old centerfold.  And that’s not necessarily a problem.  Sure, my 8-year-old will give it a glance, or more, and there’s a good chance my daughter will comment on somebody’s “giant boobs”  But that’s natural curiosity.  We can all relate.  We all have bodies, and quite frankly, most of us are curious about our own AND other’s.

But what we don’t all share is what is depicted in the modern pornography that is readily viewable with the mere touch of a screen.  While there is certainly a place for some types of porn in consenting, adult relationships (and yes, even for curious teens) the extreme sex, sexual violence and degradation of women that permeates the internet is not a realistic entrée to sex for young viewers.  Not all men treat women only as outlets for sexual release and not all women are obsessed with the penis.

Why Porn is Bad for Boys

Teen boy watching pornMost troubling is both the access and the content of modern-day porn.  Research suggests that more than 40% of kids are exposed to porn online (purposely or accidentally) between the ages of 10-17.  Very few young men – or young women, for that matter – could resist thumbing through a sexy magazine if it was sitting on the coffee table and no one was around.  Same with internet porn. But the images and representations they are viewing are creating unrealistic expectations – both for themselves and for the women (or girls, in this case) with whom they hope to have sex.

The common theme our kids are experiencing is this: men do not want intimacy.  Men want to overpower women and use them for sexual release.  No emotions.  No safety.  No respect.  No care for the woman’s pleasure, only his own.  And our kids are also seeing women who seem ok with being treated – quite literally – as objects of men’s desire, with little or no control over the experience.

The latest research is also showing that young men who grew up with porn (reports say that more than 40% of high-school aged boys view porn weekly) are struggling with erectile dysfunction, unable to achieve an erection in the absence of porn.  Many of those reporting ED also said that their viewing choices became more and more hardcore as they became less aroused by “regular” images, that is, depictions of group sex, bondage, and even rape and brutality.

Why Porn is Bad for Girls

teenage Girls in SchoolYes, girls look at porn, too.  The numbers are less, but it is becoming unavoidable, both logistically – because it is everywhere – and because of social pressure.  More than boys, girls are inundated with images that tell them to look and act sexy – because that’s what is necessary to score a guy.  But, unfortunately, it goes well beyond the billboards, TV ads, and billboards.  Girls are also turning to porn to determine what is expected of them sexually.  But what they are seeing is not what the average, happy, sexy couple is experiencing in the bedroom.  What they’re seeing is abuse and degradation and the message that men must have their needs met at all costs – women be damned!

What’s happening is the blatant perpetuation of men first, women second.  That’s playing out today in the roles that teen girls are taking in making sure their guy’s needs are met.  Specifically,  non-reciprocated oral sex is becoming the norm and it’s not even considered having sex, according to Peggy Orenstein in her new book, ”Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated Landscape.”  She wrote that very few of the young women she interviewed were recipients of oral sex, but they were willing to provide it to their male partners.

Because it’s so prevalent And because it has so many effects on a child’s developing sexuality, It’s important to talk to your children about porn. As a parent, you can not hide your head in the and and pretend that your child will not see porn. While the reasons here are the reasons WHY it’s important to talk to your kids about porn,  In my next article I’ll offer some tips on HOW to talk to your kids about porn and sex in general. Stay tuned.

 

Tim_2x3About the Author: 

Tim Mullins has worked with adolescents and their families for nearly ten years as a high school teacher and administrator. He currently works as a behavioral therapist, providing therapy to adolescents with developmental disabilities and is currently completing his Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at Regis University.

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