Talking with Kids about Pornography
“Thank you so much for talking about this,” a teenager at Tabor Mennonite Church said more than once.
I talked with youth, grades 6–12, about pornography at Tabor Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas, on a Saturday evening in February. The youth discussed the reality of pornography and sexting in society and in their communities. The kids were loved and supported by the adults and youth workers among them as they honestly shared. The time with the youth group was sacred.
Dove’s Nest was invited to talk to the youth, children, and adults at Tabor about pornography and porn addiction. As a private therapist and former school counselor, I was encouraged by their willingness to talk about these important topics because I have seen the effects of the increased prevalence of porn on kids—especially younger kids—in public schools. Because of social media and technology, porn is more accessible to kids, and many are exposed accidentally.
Our discussion with the 3rd–5th graders during their Wednesday evening service validated this reality. Though we never used the word “porn” with this age group, they knew what constituted “inappropriate images.” They also gave some great responses when asked what they should do if they see inappropriate images: “Turn it off. Close your eyes. Walk away. Tell an adult.”
NetNanny indicates that 11 is the average age kids are exposed to porn in today’s culture. Protect Young Minds recommends that the best safety mechanisms for children regarding porn is open conversation. Kids need to have a safety plan for what to do when they come across porn. They need to know parents and adults around them are safe people with whom to talk.
Sunday morning, I talked with adults about pornography and porn addiction during the Faith Formation time, and we had an extended question and answer time during a potluck dinner after church. From both formal and informal discussions, there were honest acknowledgments that porn is not just a youth problem but something that affects all of us because of the prevalence of social media and the internet. Church leadership at Tabor took bold, proactive steps to not only have Dove’s Nest present on this difficult topic, but they also have plans for follow-up with parents, youth, and adults who are struggling with porn.
In a world that seems hypersexual and violent, I was touched by the care that the Tabor congregation has for its youth. Its concern for the destructiveness of porn reflects the presence of Christ’s peace and security in an increasingly harsh world.
If you’d like to bring similar discussions to your church or youth, contact Kathy [at] dovesnest.net for more information.