by Kristen A. Jenson

business woman teacher with glasses and a suit with chalk   the lost in thought at a school board

Can you prepare kids to reject porn? Can you prevent them from seeing it? How can you protect them from what may be a full-blown, life-long addiction? As I’ve been traveling around the country speaking and attending conferences, I’ve found that not everyone agrees on what these terms mean when it comes to kids and pornography.

  • Kristen at End Exploitation Summit 2014 croppedFor example, one (excellent) speaker said that she never talked about prevention because no child could be prevented from seeing pornography.
  • Another leader said that parents cannot protect kids from pornography, they can only prepare them to reject it.
  • And when I asked several moms how they felt about the words prepare and protect, the word protect won hands down. Moms definitely want to protect their kids!

But I think we need to do all three! Here’s my take on how to prepare, prevent and protect when it comes to kids and pornography.

Prepare

mom reading to kids 2Preparing kids starts early. Teaching young kids that there are good pictures and bad pictures and giving kids a plan of action (like our CAN DO Plan in Good Pictures Bad Picturesto reject the bad ones is huge! A prepared kid is an empowered kid. A prepared kid knows not to let their eyes linger (and the brain science behind why they need to close their eyes). A prepared kids knows to tell a trusted adult, thus reducing the secrecy and shame that can fuel a porn addiction. Preparation is not just about warning kids about pornography, but also about teaching healthy attitudes about sex and giving kids good information in age-appropriate doses.

Prevent

Two boys watching smartphone photosCan you prevent your kids from ever seeing pornography? Not unless they’re physically unable to see. And even then they can hear pornographic lyrics and dialogue. But you can prevent as much exposure as possible with filters, passwords, and family rules and practices. You can work with your kids to show them why preventing pornographic images from entering their brains is so important.

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Copyrighted illustration from Good Pictures Bad Pictures

But what about preventing addiction? Though we cannot prevent all exposure to pornography, we can teach our kids the cognitive skills to prevent those images from taking hold of their brains. Of course, ultimately they have to be persuaded to reject porn, but I believe that if a child is prepared, they can choose to prevent themselves from acquiring an addiction.

Protect

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Copyrighted illustration from Good Pictures Bad Pictures

When you insist that your kids learn how to swim, are you protecting them from drowning? I think so. You may not be there in every dangerous water situation, but their skills in the water and knowledge of the rules will definitely make them safer. It’s the same with pornography. Are you going to be there in every situation to defend them from the evil porn industry? No, but if you’ve taught your kids about their two brains and how they can use their thinking brain to stay in charge, I believe their ability to protect themselves skyrockets. Prepare, prevent and protect—all three are important in the fight to keep our kids safe from pornography. What do you think?

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.