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What do I do if I find my child is exposed to pornography?

by JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

Since 95% of children under ten have already been exposed to pornography, this is an important question. We need to realize that the more they see, the more they tend to want to see. It is easier to prevent this from happening than to remedy it. That’s why we need to cover inappropriate magazines in grocery store check out lanes.

A key issue in the case of prevention or in helping to solve the problem of early exposure is to carefully regulate the future movies, videos, television, magazines, etc that the child is exposed to as well as teach him why these things are harmful. It is important that the child feel that he can talk to you about these things. It is also important to teach that they tell you when they have exposure to these things.

If exposure to hard core pornography happens on the internet the child/teen needs to know that they should immediately "crash" the computer, i.e. turn it off. Porn advertisers link their advertisements so that if the child surfaces one porn site, he cannot exit out of the site until he has seen six to eight porn advertisements. These images can surface by as simple a thing as misspelling a Disney name. The images will remain in the child’s brain forever to tease and entice him.

If your child accidentally pulls up hard core pornography on your computer, which he could possibly do at home if you do not have a closed filter, at school in spite of their filter because it is not "closed," or at the library or at a neighbor’s house, Dr. Victor Cline recommends that you talk to the child about the fact that he should not feel guilty because this happened. He should be reminded that it was not his fault. He commented that too much talk about this could reinforce this experience in the mind of the child. He recommended that a mother observe the child’s eating habits and sleep habits. It is important to notice if these habits change or if the child has nightmares. A mother needs to tell the child that if what he saw bothers him, he needs to come and talk to her. If there is any problem after ten days a mother should consult a counselor with experience in this area.

Dr. JoAnn Larsen said that if you find your teenager is accessing pornography, it is important for the parent to stay calm and to sit down with the teenager and acknowledge the problem. The parent should spend about an hour JUST LISTENING and not imposing any harsh judgment on the teen. At the end of this "listening" time, the parent needs to say, "We have to do something. What are your ideas as to what we should do?"

She suggested that parents add to their suggestions this comment, "For your protection, we are shutting down the internet."

Dr Larson recommended that the youth now needed a therapist who understood sexual addictions as well as bi-polar disorders because that is often the driving force underlying the pornography problem.

Dr. Cline commented that nearly all of his adult sexual addicts’ problems started with porn exposure in childhood or adolescence. Increasing frequency of exposure over time leads to eventual addiction. Once addicted the person loses his free agency. It becomes like drug addiction. It dramatically reduces the persons capacity to love. People involved need highly specialized help. Dr. Cline states: "Self control and self discipline or a rational approach generally don’t change anything." Sexaholics Anonymous, listed in the Salt Lake Directory, can offer references. Usually the person needs a support person and an extended period of time with lots of effort on his part to get this problem in control. People need to know that IT CAN BE DONE.

"Treatment and Healing of Pornographic and Sexual Addictions" by Dr. Victor Cline can be found on ldsmentalhealth.org. Click on "Library," then "Pornography," "LDS," "Professionals," and then scroll down to Dr. Cline’s article. This article will add to a parent’s understanding of the problem.

Incidentally, we need to remember that porn producers would love to make our child an addict. If this happens they make more money. Misspelling a Disney word which usually brings up a porn site is a direct effort by the sellers of porn to start our children on the road to addiction.

I have been impressed with the American Mother organization because it encourages mothers to meet in small neighborhood groups to discuss things like internet pornography, filters, and other matters pertaining to their children. If you want information about membership, contact me at 1075 East Center, Bountiful, Utah, 84010. By the way someone e-mailed me at the Clipper Office, the computer there crashed and it was lost. Do write again directly to my home. I am interested in your comments. Sorry.

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