Talking about pornography
A little known website, Everyone’s Invited, has suddenly become headline news. Its aim is to eradicate rape culture in our schools, colleges and workplaces.
The website defines rape culture in the following way:
Rape culture exists when thoughts, behaviours, & attitudes in a society or environment have the effect of normalising and trivialising sexual violence.
It invites children and young people to anonymously share their stories of sexual harassment and assault and has thousands of testimonies, some about children as young as 10. The range of stories is horrifying, and provides a glimpse into a culture far different from that which many parents and carers experienced growing up.
Many see a link between the prevalence of and ease of access to online pornography as an important factor in this new culture. Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead on child protection, emphasised that parents should have the difficult conversations with their child about pornography . If a child of any age has access to the internet on a device, then they may be viewing pornography – and by the time children are in their teenage years, many will have viewed violent, misogynistic and degrading images and some will be choosing to view regularly.
As a parent or a carer, you may feel ill-equipped to know how to protect your child from such horrors or equip them to keep themselves safe. And while we can’t prevent the possibility that children and teens will see pornography, we can influence how they think and act by tackling the topic head on at home.
Get good advice
There is a lot of help for parents and carers wanting to start talking about pornography with their children. Here are some places we have come across:
- A list of helplines giving information about children and pornography from ITV’s This Morning (as of November 2020).
- A lot of organisations provide advice for parents and carers on how to talk to children and young people about pornography and about sensible steps parents can take to protect their children: for example, Children 1st, Internet Matters and the NSPCC.
- The Naked Truth Project is a Christian initiative which provides practical help and hope for people struggling with pornography. This includes information to equip and resource people of any faith or no faith, as well as some to specifically enable churches, to ‘talk about and tackle the damaging impact of pornography’. There is also a free to download ‘Parent pack’.
- Creepy Naked Stuff – a video created by a Christian mum to help her talk about pornography with her preteens.
- Youthscape have a book for parents and carers: ‘A Parent’s Guide to: young people and porn’.
- Everyone’s Invited has a help section listing a wide range of places to go for help if you or someone you know has been sexually abused or assaulted.
Give it a wider context
Any conversation we have with our children about pornography will be linked to the wider issue of what we believe about relationships. In a world saturated with shallow images and stories of love and romance, it’s important that we help our children and young people build a healthy view of romance and love that reflects God’s heart for us. This is a topic Rachel Turner explored in ‘Boyfriends and girlfriends‘, one of our monthly Bedtime drinks with Rachel Facebook lives, where she looked at what that might be like with all age groups from preschool to teens.
Start the conversation
Not just with your child, but with your church and other parents. We often feel uncertain or embarrassed about talking about topics such as sex and pornography, but it is important that it becomes as normal a topic of conversation as potty training or concerns about video gaming. Only then can we hear and learn from each other.