Pornography is everywhere: Parents must educate their curious tweens

I remember crazy stuff on the bus to junior high, and that my mother finally couldn't take hearing about the antics and ended up driving my brother and I to school. And with the advent of smart phones, middle school bus antics have gotten worse. Today I'm very pleased to welcome back today's guest poster, Kim Estes. She is a Child Safety Educator and the founder of Savvy Parents Safe Kids. Kim speaks nationally about sexual abuse prevention and helps parents navigate the changing safety needs of tweens and their families.

Kim writes about her daughter seeing porn on the middle school bus. I've had friends whose 4th graders (yes, 4th graders) have viewed porn. Porn is one of those topics parents need to address with their tweens. I know that it is easier to avoid it or reassure yourself that you don't need to discuss it yet, but Kim urges us to be more proactive.

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I officially hate the middle school bus.

Obviously, I am not the one actually riding the middle school bus but in the past few years my kids have and trust me, they have seen, heard and  learned more nasty stuff on that middle school bus than I could have ever imagined. It has been a near constant state of explaining such things as the X rated versions of names for body parts and trying to simultaneously be sensitive and calm in answering questions about things they have seen (porn) and heard on the bus without seeming like a clueless mom, or worse, a total pervert by trying to ask too many “clarifying questions”.

I hate your kids’ cell phone.

phone-no-tsignWell, not exactly. I actually really like cell phones and I think a basic cell phone can be an awesome safety tool for parents and kids to communicate with each other, especially as kids enter middle school. What I hate is when a Tween has a smart phone with full internet access and no filtering software. I realize that just giving your kids your old iPhone is handy because it is free but you wanna know what? You have just given them a full mini computer and want to know what they are looking at?

Porn.

Trust me, they are.

Boys and girls both look, but really it is mostly boys. Girls have their own issues, but that is for another blog. Perhaps you have installed every filter known to man on your Tweens’ phone or maybe you chose not to allow for your Tween to have a cell phone. That is all fine, but the reality is that wont necessarily protect then and they will likely end up next to the kid who does have a cell phone with no filtering software and is showing all sorts of interesting stuff (porn) on his/her phone. That is the popular kid on the bus and trust me, everybody wants to sit next to that kid.

Sex is not for kids.

When I teach my Savvy Parents Safe Kids workshops, I spend a significant time talking to parents about sexual abuse prevention.  I give parents scripts to use and two of the basic safety scripts are to let kids know that “Sex is not for Kids” and that “Bathing suit areas are private”.  “If someone starts talking to you about sex, showing you their bathing suit areas or asking to see yours, you need to let me know right away.”  Because of those scripts, both my kids have come to talk to me about what they had seen/heard on the bus. It gave us an opportunity to talk about our values about sex and the importance of our family safety rules. I think we kept it together pretty good during those conversations but on the inside we were all horrified.

Is your child learning about sex from a porn star?

Talking about porn with your Tween is probably not on the top of anyone’s to do list. But it should be. Kids who have good safety rules and boundaries in place and an age appropriate knowledge of sex are less likely to be easy targets for sexual abuse. Kids need to hear from YOU about porn (and understand your values surrounding it) and why it is not for kids.

When kids view porn and have not had conversations with their parents about porn, they are essentially getting a sex education from a porn star. Trust me, when Tweens are getting their information about sex from a porn star it is probably going to be a confusing, shocking, unrealistic and self esteem robbing experience in the long run.

Can we just lock them up?

It would be nice if we could protect our kids from the rapid fire sex culture that is coming at them at all angles. Just locking them up and protecting them seems so much easier. Unfortunately, that is not only unrealistic (and the fact that it just won’t work) but keeping kids in the dark about such issues can actually put them at greater risk for abuse. Predators look for innocent children with little or no knowledge of sex. It is our jobs as parents to step out of our comfort zone and step up to the plate and talk about stuff like porn on the bus, or the library or wherever. We want our kids to be empowered, not vulnerable.

Because eventually, they are probably gonna see porn on the bus.

You can find Savvy Parents Safe Kids on Facebook here.
You can find Tween Us on Facebook here.

If you'd like to read something that makes you less uncomfortable, check out Volunteer ideas for kids.

Filed under: Parenting, Safety

Tags: educate, parents, porn, talk

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