Talking about sex and pornography

0

Talking about sex and pornography

The Australian government worked with leading parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson to provide practical support and resources to parents on this sensitive issue. 

Why do you have to talk to your kids about this issue?

  • 1: 10 kids in South  Africa watch porn everyday.
  • There is a very short period of time from when a kid start watching porn to when they start acting out what they saw. Older siblings often become sexual predators of younger siblings.
  • While more than 68% of high school children in SA admitted they have been exposed to online pornography, only 0.8% of kids told a parent.
  • Fascination with technology, combined with immaturity, makes kids easy targets. One child in five receives an online sexual solicitation each year.
  • Sexting: 69.5% learners have taken a picture or video of themselves posing in a sexually suggestive way
  • Sexting is not just sharing a nude picture with someone the teen may know. It is engaging in and distributing child porn.
  • Sexting in SA occurs most in the 12 – 13 yr old age group.

Research done in 2016 by the Youth Research Unit at UNISA provided the statistics.


It has been a long complaint among parents that the “sex” talk is the worst part of parenting.  It shouldn’t be. This conversation should be seen as a healthy way to give kids information on how to have healthy relationships, when the time is right or appropriate, so that the child understand sex from your perspective and not from the jaded perspective of uninformed peers and sometimes even other adults. You don’t have to barge into their room saying “time to talk about sexual behavior.” But you can offer to answer questions or bring up the topic, casually. We’re adults and we should be able to talk about this subject in a respectful and helpful manner with kids.


How to start

The hardest part is how to begin. Here are some possible ways to start the chat:

Being casual but firm: You don’t want your child feeling overwhelmed by you bursting into their room or stealing their phone to see if you can find any trace of porn or sexting. You want to let your child know you respect them and only want to ensure they are safe. If you decide to install TeenSafe, you may find it helpful to have an open discussion with your child that you think this service may be helpful to the safety of your family.

  • ‘I don’t really know what to say, but we have to have a talk about sex and pornography.’
  • ‘I read an article today that said kids are seeing pornography at really young ages. Can I talk to you about it?’
  • ‘I want to talk with you about one of those awkward topics. Is that OK?’ (They rarely say ‘no’, but if they do, respect that, and then set up a time where you can talk.)

Keeping it going

After they have agreed to talk with you, here are some ways to keep things moving.These tips can be useful whatever the age of your child. But you should tailor the discussion based on your knowledge of your child and their level of maturity and development.

  • ‘Have you heard the word pornography? What do you know about it?’
  • ‘Do any of the kids at school ever talk about it?’ (Sometimes questions about your child’s behaviour may be too confronting, so asking about their peers feels safer.) ‘What do they say?’
  • ‘Have you ever seen it?’ If they have seen it, ask: ‘Did someone show it to you? Or did you find it yourself?’ Try to find out what you can about how they found it and why they were searching for it.

If you know your child has been exposed to (or is viewing) pornography, it is better to say, ‘When I found you looking at pornography the other night…’ rather than, ‘Have you seen pornography?’

If they have seen it, reassure them they are not in trouble. Ask: ‘When you saw it, how did it make you feel?’ Discuss those feelings.

Depending on your child’s questions and maturity, you may wish to discuss issues related to ‘consent’, ‘intimacy in close relationships’, and ‘respect’.

Check if your child has any other questions or if you have explained things enough for them.

Let your child know that any question is OK to ask — nothing is off limits. This is true even when you might have to send them to someone else to find the answers.

If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions, tell them you will find out. Then use it as an opportunity to have another talk.


Kids (5 to 12)

For kids under 8 years old:

Strike a balance between protecting your children and avoiding increasing their curiosity. If you are reasonably sure your child has not been exposed to pornographic content, you might feel that raising the subject will simply make them curious.

At this age, it may be best to couch a discussion about pornography in a broader discussion about sex, protecting our bodies, abuse, or other similarly delicate topics. Your approach will depend on your own family values and the maturity level of your child.

Focus more on how your child is feeling than on what exactly they saw. Children at this age may feel ‘yucky’ and scared — even violated — but they may also feel curious.

While you may want to avoid the issue of ‘too much information’, try to respond to your child’s curiosity with honesty and openness.


For pre-teens (8 to 12):

At this age, kids may be curious about sex and sexuality. As they enter puberty and adolescence, changes in the brain and body combined with other hormonal changes can increase your child’s interest in this area.

They may hear things in the playground or at a friend’s home. They might want to know more, but feel that asking mum or dad about sex would be embarrassing. Sometimes they may seek information out themselves, or someone else may show them images and videos — and these may include pornography.

You may have already talked with them about things like puberty, body image, sex, gender, keeping bodies safe (from abuse) or even pornography. If not, now is a good time to start planning these conversations.


Teenagers (13 to 17)

For teenagers:

Teenagers are often curious and want to know about sex. If we do not talk with our teens about sex (and pornography), they may seek information from friends or the internet — and they may get the wrong information. There is a risk that the messages pornography teaches can be misleading.

Conversations about healthy sexuality set your teen up for more positive relationships, greater relationship satisfaction, and higher levels of well-being.


I need help to start the chat

If you feel it is just too hard for you to have a conversation about sex or pornography with a child in your care, here are a few things you could try:

  • Get a book — there are lots of suitable books on this topic for children of different ages.
  • Purchase an educational, and age-appropriate, DVD for your child to watch.
  • Find a trusted adult, such as an auntie, uncle or teacher to help with the conversation.
  • Talk to the school counsellor, a professional counselling service.

Try to let your child know why you find it difficult to talk about these topics – they are tricky and sensitive. Explain that you want them to have access to the right information.


Source:

If you would like to read more of Dr Justin Coulson’s advice, check out his column on Kidspot at www.kidspot.com.au/health/ask-the-expert

https://esafety.gov.au/parents/skills-advice/hard-to-have-conversations#teenagers

https://www.teensafe.com/

 

Share.

Comments are closed.