My Kid Saw Porn

This is the first article in a six-article series designed to help parents respond effectively to a child’s exposure to pornography and was originally posted on April 25, 2014. The other articles are Smart Parents Stay Calm, Smart Parents Make a Plan, Porn is Tricky! Help Kids Understand Their Confused Feelings, The Dangers of the One and Only Porn Talk, and 3 SMART Tips to Porn-Proof the Entire Family

by Kristen A. Jenson, MA

If you discover your child has already viewed Internet pornography, the way you respond can make a big difference. It’s worth the effort to help keep your kids safe online by planning for an occurrence that has become all too common (read about my friend’s experience finding links to porn sites on her child’s iPad below.)

But you can be prepared with the SMART Plan!

What helps kids report porn exposure?

When I asked dozens of parents to “beta-test” Good Pictures Bad Pictures; Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids, they often reported finding out that their kids had already viewed pornography (but had never told their parents).

Our beta-tester parents often discovered this when they read to their child the following paragraph from Chapter 1:

“Many kids see it by accident on computers, phones, or other devices. Sometimes kids are shown pornography by another person—even by a friend or family member. Has that ever happened to you?”

TIP: Explaining that pornography exposure happens to other children as well (and may be perpetrated by friends and family members) helps kids feel more comfortable confiding in their parents about their own experience.

Eye-opening Note: Expert Jill C. Manning, PhD, read an early draft of Good Pictures Bad Pictures and strongly recommended we add in “or even a family member.”

How you find out matters

There are two different porn discovery scenarios which evoke strong but different emotions from parents:

  1. You find out your child has been viewing porn in secret, or
  2. Your child accidentally views pornography and tells you (either voluntarily or when you ask)

Be SMART!

How do you respond when you find out your child has viewed pornography? Just be SMART!

  • Stay calm
  • Make a plan
  • Assist your kids to sort out their feelings
  • Regularly check in with your kids
  • Train your family

SMART momEach of these SMART steps holds essential keys to porn-proofing your child, and I will cover each in depth in the next several weeks.

But today I’d like to share with you a friend’s discovery story that is becoming quite common: mom finds porn on the iPad.

Caught off guard

Shocked woman pointing at her digital-tablet.Last year, my friend Tricia called me on the phone. She was sobbing and could hardly talk. All I could understand was that she needed me to come NOW. I rushed over and knocked on the door, then rang the doorbell. No answer. I was almost freaking out myself!  Finally, I let myself into her home and followed the sobbing sounds into her master bathroom.

There I found my sweet friend beyond upset. I hugged her and, when she finally calmed down enough to talk, she told me she had found pornography links on her child’s iPad. I’ll let her tell the rest of her story here.

Thankfully, she was SMART. She calmed down, got educated and made a plan with her husband to assist their kids and train the entire family to reject pornography.

Family playing with Tablet computer at homeParenting has always been the hardest job in the world, but then Internet porn came along and made it even harder! In the next several weeks of SMART posts, I hope to make your job easier. At least, I hope to offer clarity and some solutions for helping a child who has been exposed to or even developed a habit of viewing pornography.

Here’s the next article in the series: SMART Parents Stay Calm

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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