Code Words: Giving Kids an Easy (and Safe) Way Out

Code Words: Giving Kids an Easy (and Safe) Way Out

Do your kids know how to get out of a scary situation? Do they understand how to ask for your help when it’s embarrassing to ask? Would your child ever stay in a dangerous situation because they didn’t know of a discreet way to leave? Code words can help!

(Pssst! If kids could handle every social situation on their own they wouldn’t be kids! They’d be really mature and totally put together adults! The truth is that kids sometimes need a parent’s help to get them out of an uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation.)

code words

But before we talk about code words, I want to emphasize that a child who is victimized is never at fault. Even if they’ve been taught what to do, they may be too intimidated or scared to execute the plan you teach them.

However, having a plan can give kids a chance to escape a dangerous situation. At the very least, conversations about body safety and pornography can help kids feel safe telling you when a violation or exposure has occurred.

See the box below for our the FREE guide: 11 Best Resources to Protect Kids from Sexual Abuse.

Use code words

The “A” in the CAN DO Plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids stands for “Always tell a trusted adult.” Part of telling an adult may include using code words:

“And if I’m ever at a place where someone shows me pornography, I can use a secret code phrase…to alert my mom or dad to come and get me.”

This code word or phrase can make it much easier for a child to ask for help. For example, a child could call and say, “my eyes are burning” or “my stomach feels strange.” When they use the agreed upon code phrase, you know your child can’t tell you what’s really wrong, but they need to be picked up right away.

Code words may be used for other dangerous situations as well. I know of one tween who used her code word when she went to a concert with her college age former babysitter who started acting really strange. The younger girl didn’t feel comfortable driving home with her so she called her mom and used their code word. It turned out that the college age girl was experiencing seizures. Thank goodness they had established code words!

Sometimes, even a single “safe word” or letter will work.

Create an X-Plan

Recently an article by Bert Fulks went viral. In it he reveals that many kids stay in bad social situations merely because they don’t know how to get out of them. Bert describes his family’s ingenious “X-Plan”: If a child is in a dangerous or compromising situation, they can text “X” to their parents or older siblings. In response, the child receives a call:

“Something’s come up and I have to come get you right now.”

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave in five minutes. I’m on my way.”

This gives the child a lifeline to use. Furthermore, the “no questions asked” policy (the child can tell their parents as much or as little as they want about the situation) creates a greater bond of trust and safety. You can create your own “X-Plan” (or Y- or Z-Plan!) for your kids who have text enabled devices.

Child sexual abuse is linked to pornography

Giving kids code words as an easy and safe way out goes hand in hand with preventing sexual abuse. It’s no secret that child abuse and pornography are linked. In fact, many experts believe that the skyrocketing rise in child on child sexual abuse is fueled by their easy access to pornography.

Now Available! Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds is HERE! CLICK HERE to learn how to protect kids ages 3-6 from the dangers of pornography.

My Body Belongs to Me Video

A helpful video that teaches kids never to keep secrets about sexual abuse.

ChildHelp Hotline

The ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in over 170 languages. If you have a concern about a child and possible sexual abuse, don’t hesitate to call!

Free Guide

Click the box below for your FREE guide: 11 Best Resources to Protect Kids from Sexual Abuse. Don’t be scared–be prepared!

Parent Alert: Is Roblox Safe for Kids? Watch Out for These 4 Dangers

Parent Alert: Is Roblox Safe for Kids? Watch Out for These 4 Dangers

Our regular Parent Alert! news updates help parents stay ahead of the trends affecting kids in our hypersexualized culture.

4 Dangers of Roblox

Do your kids enjoy Roblox? It can be creative fun, but you also need to understand and guard against some significant risks to your kids!

What is Roblox?

Roblox is a multiplayer online game creation platform. Users create their own games and play games created by others.  Players can also buy, sell and create virtual items. It’s free to download on iOS and Android devices, computers, and XBox.

There are 90 million monthly active users on Roblox, appealing to users as young as six years old! Roblox has been number one in online entertainment for kids under 13, and second for teens ages 13 – 17.

Four dangers to prepare kids to avoid:

1. Beware of predators using third-party chat apps

Even with parental controls turned on and chat messaging turned off, predators have found a way to communicate with children while they play Roblox.  

Third-party chat apps are designed to look like they are part of the game, when in fact they are a back door to your child.

One mom noticed that her son began to change in his behavior and no longer wanted to take part in family activities.  

When she checked her son’s game, she realized that he had been messaging with others through a third-party chat app rather than through the game itself.  To her horror, she discovered that her son had been groomed into sending explicit photos of himself to strangers!

Tip:  Continue to check up on your children’s games, even when you have set up parental controls.  Teach your child to leave a game right away and report to you if he is contacted by a stranger, asked to send photos, or share personal information. 

 2.  Watch out for sexualized avatars

Another mom noticed that her six-year-old daughter had been invited into a “sex room” by a “friend” while playing Roblox.  All the Roblox characters were involved in various sex acts!  

Players may also be exposed to avatars that have been programmed to perform sexual or demeaning acts during a game.

 Tip: Be sure to put parental controls on the highest settings for your younger children. Roblox has a short guide for parents with tips including how to quickly block and report an inappropriate player.  Parents can also restrict the types of games that their children can play on Roblox, especially those featuring sensitive or scary content. 

3.  Be cautious with Roblox YouTube videos

Many players record their Roblox games and upload them to YouTube. Unfortunately YouTube is full of Roblox videos featuring sexual content or violent themes such as school shootings.  Code words like “shex” instead of sex are used in the keywords to get around the filters.

Tip:  YouTube is notorious for its sexploitation problems, so it’s not surprising to find out that kids can find inappropriate Roblox videos.  There’s too much risk here for young children, so it’s best to not let them go looking for videos.  Stick to the actual game with parental controls set high, and follow up with continual monitoring.

4. Look out for bypassed audios

Some players share inappropriate content by using “bypassed audio”. Bypasses are things like swear words, racial slurs, or offensive songs that players get past (bypass) the Roblox moderators.  

TipKeep kids close when they are playing online games. This way you can see if anything inappropriate is showing up visually or audibly. Remember that when kids use headphones to play games, you can’t check up on what they are hearing.

Prepare your young kids to be safe with Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds CLICK HERE to learn how to protect kids ages 3-6 from the dangers of pornography.

HBO’s New Series Euphoria Exhibits Sexual Exploitation of Teens

“There are going to be parents who are going to be totally (bleep) freaked out.”

Sam Levinson, writer for HBO’s disturbing new show for teens, Euphoria

Season 1 of HBO’s Euphoria premiered on June 16 with a confirmed second season in the works.  The show delivers on the shock value, with “unflinching displays of nudity, drugs, sex and other things that can keep parents up at night.”

The opening scene shows an emotionally disturbed teen abusing alcohol and drugs to numb her pain.  Abusive themes dominate the show, mostly shown in graphic details: rape of a 17-year old by a much older man, pornography, sexual violence (choking during sex), “slut-shaming” and other forms of sexual abuse.

Here are some of the ways it can be viewed:

  • The show can be streamed on demand through HBO GO and HBO NOW apps on any device.
  • The first episode is streaming for free on HBO. 
  • Viewers without HBO can also add HBO access to their Amazon Prime account (with free trial). 

Warning: Parents are strongly cautioned to keep their kids and teens away from this show.  It unapologetically exploits teens.  It’s voyeuristic, pornographic, and offers no hope for teens caught up in cycles of drug and/or sexual abuse. One reviewer calls it “smut disguised as ‘art.’” 

Bleak. Deadening. Lurid. This is not a show you want your kids exposed to.

A teaching opportunity

Euphoria is just one of many dark shows that remind us how critical it is to teach kids about making good media choices. You can help them be resilient and learn to reject the toxic aspects of our culture.

Some conversation tips:

  1.   Talk to your teens about this show.  Ask them what they know about it. Is it being talked about in their peer group, or on their social media?  (Note: This show is trending with teens, like the toxic, fan-fiction movie After.)
  2.   Help your child to understand the fundamental lies that these types of shows promote, including the normalization of sexual and drug abuse. 
  3.   Talk with your teen or tween about how to develop healthy peer relationships by setting boundaries – both online and in person. 

National Center on Sexual Exploitation has an easy way for parents to contact HBO about the sexually exploitative content in Euphoria.

When you stay updated on the latest risks affecting your child, you have the power to teach them to be safe. We can help!

Get your free guide to Talk Today, Safer Tomorrow: Top 10 Easy Conversation Starters! Click the image below.

It isn’t as hard as you think to start teaching kids to be safe from pornography. This guide will help you get started!

Are Your Kids Safe from Abuse in Sports? 3 Questions Every Parent Should Ask

Are Your Kids Safe from Abuse in Sports? 3 Questions Every Parent Should Ask

Little league baseball, rep hockey, competitive swimming, after-school tennis lessons, karate classes . . . so many sports for our kids to choose from!

preventing child sexual abuse in youth sports

Whatever activity your child chooses, the benefits of participating in youth sports are almost endless: they can improve outcomes in all areas including physical, social, psychological, academic and health. In well-structured sports, children receive opportunities to set and meet personal goals, develop lasting friendships and enhance problem-solving skills.

Central to any sport is the relationship between the child and his coach. A great coach can draw out the abilities of a timid child in community sports, or propel a talented child on a competitive team to world-class achievement.

When boundaries between coaches and athletes are violated

Like anything, each sport carries its own risks. With that in mind, we buy the protective gear to guard their growing bodies: helmets, shoulder padding, shin guards, mouthguards, and more. Children are carefully taught the proper warm-ups and safety procedures. These are the “boundaries” that both protect and encourage your child to explore her sport and build the skills she is seeking. They are essential to her safety.

Just like physical boundaries, there are also “relational” boundaries in sports. When boundaries are in place, and trust and safety are high, the results can be remarkable. But when ethical and moral boundaries are broken, they are disastrous.

Consider the following cases:

In each of these cases, the coaches or affiliated staff such as a sports doctor groomed and sexually abused multiple children over many years.

How could this happen to so many children over so many years?

Unfortunately, research shows that children who are sexually abused rarely disclose their abuse to a trusted adult.

When a victim is willing to speak publicly about her childhood sexual abuse, it’s vital that we pay attention to her story so that we can learn how to help children better.

Amelie-Frederique Gagnon is one of the brave adults who is sharing what happened in her youth. In this video, she describes how she fell victim as a fourteen-year-old competitive skier to her former ski coach and sexual abuser, Bertrand Charest:

Amelie-Frederique advises parents to be careful and pay attention to their kids while also watching for signs of abuse. Her warning is a powerful reminder to stay vigilant.

Related: The 3 Big Red Flags of Sexual Abuse

What are the child abuse risk factors in youth sports?

The research on sexual abuse of youth has been gaining momentum, particularly in light of the many high-profile cases in the media over the past few years.

Recent statistics show that:

  • All young athletes are vulnerable to sexual abuse.
  • Between 2% to 8% of minor-age athletes are victims of sexual abuse through their participation in sport.
  • 98% of sexual abusers in sports are coaches, instructors, and teachers.

Characteristics of the sexually abused athlete:

  • While most victims are young female athletes, a large proportion of boys are also sexually abused in sports.
  • Sexually abused children in sports often have low self-esteem, strained relationships with their parents and eating disorders.
  • Many of these children are elite or high-performance athletes. This may indicate something about the culture of a particular sport (i.e. drive for performance over the well-being of the child), or an athlete’s close relationship to a coach (i.e. more private time for grooming if the coach is a sexual abuser).

Related: Calling All Fathers! 4 Simple Ways to Raise Confident Daughters

Is it still safe for my child to play sports?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as a parent when the headlines about child sexual abuse seem to be multiplying. Our reaction may be to either ignore the distressing news (leaving our kids vulnerable to real risks), or to hide kids away at home (depriving our kids of healthy activities).

But we can choose a better option! We can equip kids with confidence and the tools to handle any situation.

Protect your kids – start by asking these three questions!

At the most basic level, every sports organization should have in place some behavioral rules, criminal record checks and screenings, and other training to protect young athletes from sexual abuse.

One example of a proactive approach for protecting athletes from sexual abuse is the Responsible Coaching Movement (RCM), coordinated by the Coaching Association of Canada.

The RCM encourages parents to ask their child’s sports organization three questions:

  1. Does your child’s coach follow the Rule of 2?
  2. Has your child’s coach completed a background screening?
  3. Has your child’s coach taken ethics training?

Question 1: Does your child’s coach follow the rule of 2?

Having been a Scout leader, Sunday School teacher, and youth group leader, I’ve been following the Rule of 2 in my own volunteer work for some time now.

The Rule of 2 says that two adults need to be present when working with children at all times. In other words, your child’s coach should never be alone for any extended period of time with your child.

One night, I was ready to drop off my son for his baseball practice at a nearby diamond. We were the first ones to arrive, so I decided to wait until the coach and some other parents turned up. I usually run an errand or two during practices and stay for the games.

This time, only one of our two coaches was able to make it. I noticed that several parents dropped off their kids in the parking lot and then drove away.

My own plans changed on the spot. I didn’t feel right to leave our coach alone with several kids under his care. Not because I didn’t trust him, or had a bad feeling, but I remembered the Rule of 2 in my own work with kids. So I stayed. About ten minutes later, another parent showed up with his son and also remained for the practice.

One reminder that stuck with me on this particular night: don’t park n’ fly when it comes to kids’ sports activities. Make sure that at least 2 trustworthy people are in charge of the kids.

And support your coaches! The majority are wonderful volunteers. It helps coaches to know that other parents are available for backup so that they don’t have to shoulder the burden alone.

Bottom line: we need to work together to make the sports environment safe for kids and hard for child abusers to get in and get comfortable.

“Having two people present is the significant protect factor that we need to reduce abuse.” Lorraine Lafrenier, CEO, Coaching Association of Canada

Question 2: Has your child’s coach completed a background screening?

The background check includes security screening tools such as:

  • Interviews
  • Comprehensive job history
  • Reference checks
  • Criminal record checks

If your child is going to participate in a competitive sports program, be sure to ask the head office about how they screen the coaches.

Question 3: Has your child’s coach taken ethics training?

Another important step for developing coaches is ethics training. This raises the awareness level and moral responsibility that coaches and other leaders have to prevent and report any abuse or harassment they see while kids are under their care. In Canada, the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) offers the Make Ethical Decisions and Respect in Sport module.

If your child is heading into a competitive or travel team environment, ethics training for coaches is vital for the emotional and physical well-being of the athletes.

“Sexual abuse that does not include contact can still have a psychological and emotional impact on survivors.” Canadian Centre for Child Protection

Have the best info on hand to keep your family safe and get help when needed. Get your free list of the 11 Best Resources to Protect Kids from Sexual Abuse at the end of this post!

How do you know if a sports organization takes child protection seriously?

Those three questions are just a baseline measure to help protect kids. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, through its Safe to Compete program, publishes a guide that recommends policies for specific concerns:

  • Internet communication – guidelines for coach-athlete communication through texting, social media, email, etc.
  • Privacy – appropriate adult-to-child ratios and supervision in locker rooms and shower areas
  • Travel – screened chaperones, number of adults and athletes in a car

It doesn’t matter how much your child may admire a certain coach or long to be part of a particular team. If you are not comfortable about how a sports team handles child protection, please look for a better organization!

Personal boundaries are key to preventing child sexual abuse in youth sports

While safety in sports has its unique challenges, child sexual abuse in any context involves violating boundaries through manipulation.

As parents, we can develop an ongoing conversation with our children to ensure that they have the skills and confidence to recognize warning signs and trust their gut instinct.

Sometimes as part of a grooming process, an adult may attempt to push boundaries, but pass it off as humorous or “no big deal”. Or she may attempt to frighten your child into complying by threatening to hurt her or others.

The more confident and prepared your child is, the more willing he will be to say NO to abuse and tell you about anything that is not right.

Preparing kids to be safe from sexual abuse and from pornography go hand-in-hand. Start teaching your kids now with Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Coach Sarah, a Certified Professional, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach sums up the value of boundaries as a gift that we give to our kids:

“Teaching our children healthy boundaries is one of the most loving things we can do for them. Helping them to develop a strong voice (being able to own their ‘yes’s’ and their ‘no’s’, and knowing they have the right to ask for what they need to feel safe) empowers them to know how to navigate relationships and recognize when they are not healthy. What better gift can we give to our children!”

Related: Code Words: Giving Kids And Easy (And Safe) Way Out

Red flags – what should I look for?

You’ve asked your child’s organization about its child safety procedures (Rule of 2, background screening, ethics training). Additionally, you’ve inquired about special considerations that are relevant to your child’s situation such as safety in locker rooms and travel.

So what else can you do to keep your kids safe from abuse?

You want to stay involved in your child’s sports activities and be aware of boundaries that may have been crossed (not indicating sexual abuse in all cases, but certainly not examples of ethical behavior either). Here are some “red flag” behaviors to be on guard against:

  • Unusual interest in your child beyond normal expectations
  • Attempted communication with your minor child outside of practices and games – either by phone or online
  • Child’s behavior has changed – anger, withdrawal, acting out
  • Child is receiving packages or unusual gifts – you’ve noticed new clothing, jewelry or items that your child is being vague about
  • Inappropriate jokes and stories, particularly of a sexual or crude nature, are told to youth
  • Touching children in ways that are not relevant to training for the sport
  • Commenting on child’s body or physicality in ways that are not relevant to her training or sport

Related: The 3 Big Red Flags of Sexual Abuse

5 Action steps for parents with children in sports
  1. Get involved in your child’s sports activities.
    • Introduce yourself to your child’s coach.
    • Watch how your child interacts with her coach.
    • Know what the sport organization’s policies and procedures are for keeping athletes safe from abuse, especially if there is travel involved.
  2. Review the principles of healthy boundaries with your child. Keep the conversation going. Let him know you are always there for him, and nothing or no one should ever shame him into silence.
  3. Monitor your child’s social media presence. Ask questions about whom she is speaking to, and know what platforms she is on.
  4. Be alert for any sudden changes in your child’s appearance or behavior. If something doesn’t feel right, ask your child questions. Don’t ignore your parenting instinct!
  5. Know who to turn to. If you suspect something or find out about an abuse situation, contact the local and national organizations who can help.

With better policies, proactive parents, and confident kids, young athletes can enjoy all the benefits of sports free from the dreadful abuses that have happened in the past.

Don’t Miss this Free Download

Click below to get your list of the 11 Best Resources to Protect Kids from Sexual Abuse. You’ll get ideas for good books to read with your kids and the best websites on this issue.

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preventing child sexual abuse in youth sports

 

5 Sneaky Locations Porn Finds Kids

5 Sneaky Locations Porn Finds Kids

“Use the buddy system; look both ways before you cross the street; come straight home after school; and stay clear of the porn dealers lurking on your path!” Ok, so you wouldn’t say it like that… but we do need to remind our kids how to recognize and reject pornography no matter where they are.  

5 Sneaky Locations Porn Finds Kids

Pornography is now available to anyone, anytime, anywhere

Is it just me, or does anyone else remember the corner video store? We’d pop over and make our entertainment selections on a regular basis. It creeped me out that our shop included a browsing area for adult films. However it was curtained off and only accessible upon proof of age.

Today there is no curtain and no proof of age requirement to prevent curious eyes from wandering into dangerous territory. The corner store has closed down; yet porn is a bigger threat to families than ever before. Violent and degrading sexually explicit content is accessible anyone at anytime in our own homes! Add to that, ever-expanding smartphone technology and parents have their work cut out for them.

 Get the popular guide: 3 Secrets to Porn-Immune Kids! CLICK HERE  or on the image at the bottom of the post.

5 sneaky locations porn finds kids and what to do about it

Fortunately there are proactive steps we can take to protect our kids. Today we’ll discuss 5 sneaky (but super common) locations porn finds kids. Plus we’ll give you tips and strategies that will help kids stay away from porn when they’re on their own. Finally we’ll review 3 basic steps anyone can implement to help protect young minds.  

1. Is Grandma dealing porn (unknowingly)?

You may recall this popular Comcast commercial. Watch as Grandma and Grandpa give their house a tech makeover for the holidays:

Grandparents love to keep grandkids happy. And while tech can be fun, not many grandparents have parental controls set on their devices or the WiFi filtered as it comes to the home. It’s worth mentioning that Comcast (see video above) holds a regular position on NCOSE’s Dirty Dozen list for peddling in porn.

Solution: Help grandparents give their house a tech-safety makeover. Talk to grandparents about the dangers of unfiltered WiFi and how easily porn finds kids today (yes, even their sweet grandchildren).  Then consider the following:

2. Sleepover truth, dare, double-dangerous

It just takes one kid with a bad idea and a great sales pitch to turn a fun sleepover into a parenting nightmare. The anonymity of the internet often gives kids the courage to do things online they’d never dream of in real life. One mom we talked to thought, “No way, not my kid,”  until she was roused from her sleep at 2 a.m. to discover her 10-year-old daughter talking to a much older man as her friend sat giggling next to her.

Solution: At Protect Young Minds we recommend avoiding sleepovers altogether. For us the risks simply outweigh the benefits. However if you do choose to have kids participate consider the following tips:

  • Make sure your child understands what to do in any situation that could compromise their safety (the CAN DO Plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures is a great place to start!)
  • Talk to your child specifically about not sharing personal information
  • Use code words to give your child a safe and easy way to exit dangerous situations (for more tips read this)
  • If you are hosting a sleepover, be clear in the invitation you expect smartphones to stay at home (and suggest other hosts do the same)

3. The phones on the bus go click, click share

It’s a sad fact that porn finds kids on the school bus, the schoolyard and even in the classroom. Teachers and bus drivers may try, but they can’t see everything that is happening behind their back. Kids at school are coming together from a variety of home environments and with a host of developmental traits. There will be bullies and their will be kids with no filters. Even if your child isn’t shown porn at school it is very likely they will pick up terms and expressions that they may look up on their own.

Solution: The buddy system is not just for kids, but adults too. Talk to other parents in your neighborhood. Ask them to keep an eye out and an ear to the ground. Share your concerns with each other and the school administrator. Plus consider the following;

  • Remind kids they will not get in trouble for telling you if someone showed them a bad picture. Review the CAN DO Plan
  • Ask probing questions about interactions at school. What did you do at recess? What was the funniest thing you remember? Did anyone swear or say something that made you curious or uncomfortable?
  • Be prepared to talk to middle school kids about relationships and sexting

4. Babysitting basics

We’ve talked to several people (mostly women) who’ve said their first glimpse of porn was at age 13 while babysitting. One individual explained she felt such a pull to read the erotic literature found at one house that she offered to babysit there for free anytime!

Imagine the potential hours of unlimited access to pornography! Not only does this put the youth at risk for falling prey to compulsive habits; it could potentially endanger other younger children in the house as well. Child on child sexual abuse can be learned and fuelled by pornography. Children are wired to imitate what they see adults do.

Solution: Remember that you are your child’s first advocate. Anytime they’ve been invited to babysit somewhere, go through a standard interview process. Here are some possible questions:

  • Do you smoke? (We have breathing issues)
  • Do you have pets? (We have allergies)
  • Do you have weapons (guns/knives/bows/etc) in your home? How are they secured?
  • Do you allow the kids to have access to the internet? If so, what kind of filters are installed? Is there any other adult content I should be concerned about in the home?
  • What is your evening procedure for disengaging kids from technology?

Just be prepared with your response if parents indicate there are no internet filters in the house! Talk to older kids frequently about how to avoid sexualized content when they are away from home. Frequent, ongoing conversations at home will help strengthen their internal filter.

5. Behind closed doors

80% of exposure to unwanted pornography occurs within the safety of our own homes. When kids use devices in private areas of the house the temptation to look just a little longer becomes very tempting —as is the pull to look a second and a third time. It does not take long for a compulsive pattern of use to be established.

Late night texting is a serious distraction for kids. It interferes with sleep which in turn interferes with sound decision-making. When kids text late into the night they are more likely to share secrets, connect with strangers and send inappropriate pictures of themselves.

The Solution: Establish guidelines in your home to reinforce tech safety.

  • Create safe tech zones/times in your home.
  • Reinforce the habit of always using devices out in the open
  • Help kids understand you want to allow them to enjoy technology safely
  • Hold a tech fast for periods during the day or even a day per week (and let us know what happens!)

3 Steps to protect young minds

1. Filter at the source: Read, Filtering 101: Protect Kids from Porn on New Devices. Ensure your home and devices are at their safest.
2. Strengthen internal filters: Help kids build their own internal filter against pornography. For more on this read: 3 Steps to Give Kids an Internal Filter.
3. The CAN DO Plan: Along with ongoing conversations about pornography, kids need an easy-to-follow strategy to get out of any sticky situation fast. For a FREE copy of our proven 5 step CAN DO Plan CLICK HERE.

Bonus offer

Want more information? Protect Young Minds is here to help you arm your kids with skills to reject pornography. CLICK on the image below to get your FREE guide, 3 Secrets to Porn-Immune Kids:

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Police Mom Reveals Secret Weapon to Protect Kids from Porn

Police Mom Reveals Secret Weapon to Protect Kids from Porn

Police see the tragic fallout of pornography everyday as they investigate sex crimes against children. But what happens when one of their own children are caught looking at porn? In this post a police mom shares a secret weapon to protect kids from porn. By teaching her 10-year-old son to empathize, she created a convincing rationale to overcome his compulsion to look again.

Female Police Officer —Protect Kids from Porn

Can your kid empathize? If so, you can use that empathy to help them reject porn! In the arsenal of weapons against the enticement of porn, parents might overlook the humble quality of empathy. But it’s a potent way to fortify kids to look away from porn, even after they’ve sought it out.

Police mom finds son looking at porn

Recently I spoke with a mom who works for a police department in community outreach. She is well aware of the dangers of the internet and works to educate parents so they can keep their kids safe.

This mom has a son who was 10 years old when she found him seeking out internet porn.

Of course she was disheartened and worried. But she didn’t freak out. Instead she used the power of empathy.

She had a frank discussion about the videos he had seen and how the women were treated in them. And then she asked without shaming, “How would you feel if I were being treated that way? Or your sister?”

Her son broke down crying.

Her questions had personalized the porn. These women might be moms…or sisters. They were certainly daughters. And they were real humans who were being treated with disrespect and degradation.

Even a child can understand that everyone wants to be treated with kindness and no one wants to be treated like most women are treated in pornography. (Remember the stat —88% of porn scenes contain physical violence.)

Porn reduces empathy

According to Dr. Jill C. Manning, author of What’s the Big Deal About Pornography? A Guide for the Internet Generation,

“Pornography encourages people to be less respectful towards others because it treats people like objects who simply exist to satisfy another person’s sexual urges or desires….When people begin to objectify other humans, we lose part of our humanity and diminish our divine ability to love and care for others” (pages 42-43).

And there’s science to back this up. Meta studies done in 2016 show that men who consume porn are more likely to perpetrate sexual aggression (code words for “rape”) on women. In other words, porn decreases empathy. It’s easier to use and exploit another person if you care nothing for their feelings.

Fight the New Drug reports:

“A large portion of the porn consumed by millions of people every day is reinforcing the message that humiliation and violence are normal parts of what sex is supposed to be. It’s wiring the minds and expectations of the upcoming generation, making it harder for many young people to prepare for loving, nurturing relationships…”

Explain empathy early to protect kids from porn

Actor Mark Ruffalo does a great job helping young kids understand empathy in this Sesame Street clip:

And here’s the amazing Brene Brown describing empathy (and contrasting it with sympathy). Empathy leads to increased connection —and connection is a powerful antidote against addiction!

3 ways to use empathy as a secret weapon to protect kids from porn

Empathy for actors. Empathy can be a secret weapon to protect kids from porn when parents encourage children to talk about their feelings. This helps kids recognize that others have feelings, too. Even the actors portrayed (and hurt) in porn videos.

Be sure to download our Emotional Care Tags activity at the end of this post. It’s a creative way to help kids respond in a healthy way to negative emotions.

An eight year old girl who was pulled into months of viewing porn on her device was brought to counseling after her parents found out. One of the first things the therapist did was to teach her to empathize and see the actors as people with feelings. That led this little girl to see how horribly and inhumanely the actors in pornography are treated. It helped her to want to stop viewing those videos.

Parent tip: Start talking to kids early about the value of the opposite gender and how to show respect for differences.

Empathy for peers. Empathy can be a secret weapon to protect kids from porn even when their peers have been pulled into viewing inappropriate content. As parents talk openly about how pornography acts like a magnet to the brain kids will appreciate better why some of their friends can’t seem to leave it alone.

They can be persuaded that their peers need an  example of someone who does not participate in or vote for exploitation of another human being. They may even help their friends learn to reject pornography while protecting themselves.

Empathy for themselves.  And finally, empathy can be a secret weapon to protect kids from porn when kids learn to have empathy for themselves. In Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr., kids are assured, “But even if you see a bad picture, that doesn’t make you a bad kid.”

Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures…I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!  –Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

3 steps to increase empathy in kids

Model empathy in your interactions with your kids. My mom did this for me. Once I got fired from a part-time job at college. When I called to tell her the bad news (I felt so humiliated!), she didn’t lecture me or even express disappointment in me. She simply said, “Oh honey, I know how you feel! I got fired once, too!” What a gift of empathy.

Provide opportunities to serve others. When kids are encouraged to think outside of themselves they start seeing that other people have needs and want to meet those needs. This builds empathy and helps protect kids from porn.

I never get tired of the story of Zack who decided to raise money to help provide wheelchairs for others with mobility challenges. Check out his  video and share it with your own kids!

Don’t try to make everything better. Sometimes we just have to sit with people while they’re feeling pain. The same with our kids. When we don’t try to distract a child away from feeling bad (Here! Have a cookie! You’ll feel better!), but instead help them cope we send a message that they are strong enough to handle the difficulties life throws at them.

Get some great ideas about teaching kindness and empathy on the Raising Kind Kids series by Thomas Lickona, Ph.D.

Finding an antidote to porn’s poison

If your child is activity seeking out porn, we empathize with you too! Don’t give up. Don’t lose heart. A parent’s love can be a powerful antidote. It’s important to note that often the most potent secret weapon to protect kids from porn is a low-tech human one. The humble quality of empathy can diffuse the rank objectification that pornography spews at our kids. Teach kids to empathize (to connect emotionally) with those who are exploited by pornography and give them a poignant reason to look away next time they’re exposed.

Bonus: Emotional Care Tag Template

Looking for a creative way to develop empathy in your child? A great place to start is by helping them understand their own feelings. Emotional CARE TAGs give kids a positive way to acknowledge negative behaviors, identifying emotional triggers and find healthy responses to their own needs. Download our FREE Emotional Care Tag template today. Click on the image below: