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PORN & SEXTING
Countering the impact of porn on children’s attitudes & behaviour and navigating sexting 

The facts about porn

  • Almost 9 in 10 scenes in porn contain violence against women
     

  • Reports of child-on-child sexual abuse almost doubled from 2013 to 2017 (Telegraph, 2017)

The facts about sexting

  • 1 in 4 teens worldwide have received a sext before age 18

  • One-third of child-abuse imagery is now self-generated, with the majority of images being taken in the home, most often in a child’s bedroom. This includes primary-school children (from the NSPCC)

Describing porn to young children: 

  • Porn is pictures, videos or cartoons with people with no clothes on 

  • It’s not like family pictures, and it’s something young children aren’t ready to see

Describing to young children why porn is harmful: 

  • It can hurt their brains and affect their ability to love 

  • It can train their brains and feel addictive

  • Porn tends not to show healthy relationships, being safe, respect or diversity

When they first see porn, children report emotions including curiosity, shock and confusion. Those feelings diminish the more they watch

 

(“I Wasn’t Sure It Was Normal To Watch It”)

Tell your child that if they come across something online that upsets them they should close the window and talk to you about it.

 

Emphasise that you trust them to handle the internet, and reassure them that you won’t be angry if this does happen. Curiosity is natural and part of growing up

If children are curious, they will go down the rabbit hole.

If they know what porn is, they may not go so deep into that rabbit hole

Talking About Sex – Anya Manes

Culture Reframed, which focuses on kids building the resilience & critical thinking to counter porn, has a great method – the COMPOSE technique – for you to manage your emotions when porn enters your family life.

For children aged 3-6, see also the Protect Young Minds steps

Porn is entertainment: it’s like a car chase vs real driving.

Encourage your teen to think critically. What does porn show and not show? How might years of watching it before they’ve even held hands with another person affect their attitudes, feelings, behaviour and expectations in terms of others & themselves?

“Why do teens sext? To join in because they think ‘everyone is doing it’, boost their self-esteem, flirt and test their sexual identity, explore their sexual feelings, get attention and connect with new people on social media”

How to talk to children about the risks of sexting (NSPCC)

So You Got Naked Online is a resource for young people. You can find more sexting info and advice for young people from ChildLine here which includes Zip-It, an app that provides witty comebacks in order to help young people say no to requests for naked images

Safe sexting…

“Omitting your face and identifiable features such as birthmarks or tattoos can help ensure your privacy should the unforeseeable happen”

Safe Sexting is Just as Important as Safe Sex – Cosmo Luce

Ask open-ended questions in a non-judgmental way, including hypotheticals: “What would you do if you got a nude picture?” “Do you think it was right for Nassim to share that photo with a friend?” As a way in, use sexting issues that come up in other people’s lives, TV, movies, the media & news stories to start a conversation

WHAT IS SEXTING? 
Sexting (or “sending nudes”) means sending sexually explicit messages, photos or videos. Though sexting by under-18s may be classified as child pornography, it can also be considered a way to explore and express sexuality

Make sure your child knows that once they send an image, they will have no control over who sees or shares it. It’s also embedded online as part of their digital footprint.

And don’t forget the other side of the story: it’s never OK to send nudes or share images without consent. If a nude image is shared without consent, that is a betrayal

Boys describe sexting as being like keeping up with fashion. But to be sexually accepted and celebrated through sexting, they have to adhere to a form of masculinity that’s hard to meet. With sexting girls are objectified, dehumanised and assumed to have no self-respect 

– criminology lecturer Dr Emily Setty, University of Surrey

In porn sex is something men do to women and female pleasure is [an] act. Porn is missing the sensuality, playfulness, messiness, passion and intimacy of real life. And in porn, something that is simultaneously objectionable and sexual can actually create a kind of tension that turbo charges arousal. That’s one reason it’s really important to talk to boys about porn – helping them to differentiate between what’s just super arousing and what’s actually wanted, desired and pleasurable

– Peggy Orenstein, author of Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity and Girls & Sex – Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

More help with #Porn&Sexting
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THINKUKNOW  |  Resource for children & parents

Excellent answers to questions from kids age 4 up – and useful for parents to learn from. Its Porn: What Science Says for 14+ page is thought provoking and persuasive on porn as a negative influence on real-life sex. Great info on sexting too   Go to Thinkuknow >

LET’S TALK PORN  |  Family Planning Association (FPA)

Here’s a factsheet for young people that can be useful for parents too: let's-talk-porn. Aimed directly at parents is a list of top 10 tips for having open, honest conversations about porn with their children  Go to Let’s Talk Porn >

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YOUR BRAIN ON PORN  |  Informative videos

Sites such as Fight The New Drug and, specifically for parents, Protect Young Minds, focus on the effects of pornography. Inform yourself by watching Your Brain On Porn videos – there’s one for kids too.  Go to Your Brain on Porn > 

CULTURE REFRAMED  |  Parent toolkit

Viewing porn as a public-health crisis and founded by anti-porn researcher Dr Gail Dines, Culture Reframed has a Parents Programme – a best-practice toolkit to help raise porn-resilient kids. See also its Parents of Tweens Programme  Go to Culture Reframed >

SEX ED RESCUE  |  Round-up of information for parents on porn

Statistics and research about pornography and its effects on children rounded up by Cath Hakanson of Sex Ed Rescue  Go to How Does Porn Affect Children >

Remember: every child is different. Adjust these suggestions for the age and stage of your child. Children with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children and children who have experienced abuse may all need different support.

 

If you’re in doubt about your child’s emotional, physical or psychological development, please seek the advice of a professional

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