OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“I fight for every ten year old boy out there that has no idea the damage that porn can cause in his life.” Kyson, Fight the New Drug

The Porn-Train

It’s coming and your young kids are walking along the tracks. The statistics are grim: Internet Safety 101 reports that American children begin consuming hard core porn at an average age of 11. Take a moment to let that sink in.

OK, time’s up. Now I want to share an important lesson from my I-Can’t-Believe-I-Didn’t-Die childhood. Hang in there with me…

Girl walking down train tracksWhen I was 11, we lived in a two-family house alongside the railroad tracks in Arlington, Massachusetts. It was a middle class neighborhood, and the tracks provided a pretty strip of wilderness in a densely populated area. As kids, we walked the tracks all the time down to a huge field where we liked to play softball in the summer or sled in the winter.

Clueless about the Dangers

But sometimes we went further. (Eerie background music should start playing now.) Why? So we could cut through a hole in a chain-link fence to visit the shopping center in a not-so-safe area in Cambridge. We pretty much knew the train schedule, but it always felt a bit dangerous, which was part of the allure.

My mom never walked all the way to the shopping center with us. She didn’t know about the tracks over the water. She didn’t know about the confusing train yard where literally dozens of tracks lay side by side and it was almost impossible to perceive which track held an oncoming train. (Our solution? RUN across the tracks and DON’T TRIP!)

And we didn’t tell her, either.

Simply put, my mom had no idea about some of the dangers we faced.

dragon and trainThis is often the case today with pornography.

Good parents, who are involved in their kids’ lives and seemingly on top of everything, are shocked when they find out  that the porn-train has run right through their family room or their kids’ bedrooms via an i-Pod or other internet-enabled device. (That’s if they are lucky enough to find out.)

Can you stop the porn-train?

Maybe you can stop many of them, but you cannot stop all of them. Kids get hit by porn-trains all the time. They don’t see them coming and they don’t know what hit them.

This confusion is articulated by a young man named Kyle in his “Why I Fight” story on the Fight the New Drug website:

I was thirteen when I was first exposed to pornography. As a confused child stumbling around in an unexplored online world, I literally had no idea what I was seeing and what effects it would have on my brain and on my life. Ten years later I now look back on that day and wish so bad that I knew then what I know now [emphasis added].

If you can’t stop all of the porn-trains, you’ve got to teach your kids how to stay off of the tracks…before they get mowed down with an addiction or messed up ideas about sex. We must talk to them about what’s coming at them…like a train!

dad and son looking at workbook5 Effective Ways to keep your kids off the porn-train tracks:

1. Define your goals. What’s your game plan? How do you want your kids to think about sex? Or to respond when he/she sees porn? Start with the end in mind. This post gives you a list of goals to consider. Porn-Proofing: Where Do I Begin?

2. Overcome your concerns that talking about porn will actually awaken a curiosity. That curiosity is going to be there. The main thing is to open a dialogue with your kids. Make it OK to talk about pornography. Will the Porn Talk Arouse Curiosity in Kids?

3. Get comfortable with the vocabulary you’ll need to use. It’s empowering, I promise! For you and your kids! Say the Word “Pornography”

4. Teach kids a positive view of sex. In one study of church-going teens, only 15% said that their parents were their major source of information about sex. Are you going to let the internet provide sex-ed for your kids? 4 Tips for Teaching Kids about Sex

5. A little brain science can really help kids to deal with the allure of sexual material. Teach your kids that their instinctive brains may be curious about pornography, but their thinking brains need to be in charge in order to stay safe from addictions. You Have Two Brains!

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.
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