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My Kid is Caught up in Porn or Sexting. Now What?

Caught in Porn or Sexting

My Kid is Caught up in Porn or Sexting. Now What?

My Child is Caught up in Pornography – Help!

If your child is caught up in viewing online pornography, we’ve found these steps to be helpful. We’ve tried to place them in some semblance of a sequence, but we also realize that in these situations, it’s not always possible to follow a 1-2-3 script. The most important sequence to get right is #1 (don’t freak out) and saving consequences to the end, so that your child knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything is going to be ok.

  • Don’t overreact. Seriously! Don’t freak out. Wait for the right opportunity when you’re not in panic mode. You won’t get another chance to have the first talk and too many parents try to talk when emotions are high. Don’t do it.
  • Be strategic about who is involved in the conversation. For example, if a daughter is using porn, she might be embarrassed to have her father involved in the initial conversation. Same is true in the opposite situation between a son and mom. You know the relationship dynamics best. Just remember that there’s likely going to be a lot of shame attached to the behavior, so use your judgment.
  • Calmly present the digital evidence that you found. 
  • Share reasons why pornography is bad for people. Fight the New Drug does an amazing job of explaining why porn is bad for the brain, the heart, and the world.
  • Remind your son/daughter that you still love him/her no matter what they do.
  • Punish as you see fit. Loving consequences are fine and necessary.
  • Close the digital doors that allowed the inappropriate access. Please visit our Resources page for software suggestions.

As we stated above, start with calm and end with consequences, but never the opposite. If you drop the hammer first, they’ll never hear “everything will be ok.”

For Parents with a Faith Foundation:

There are a few extra steps we recommend if you are a Christian:

  • Give an opportunity to tell God, “I’m sorry” in an act of confession.
  • Equip him/her with Bible verses that will encourage and strengthen.
  • Explain not only why porn is bad, but why God’s ideas about sexual monogamy within marriage are so much better.*

*This article is written by an Evangelical website, but it’s dripping with Theology of the Body undertones, which are foundational to Catholic teaching about human sexuality. Both Catholics and non-Catholic Christians should find it helpful in having a conversation with their son/daughter about what pornography does to destroy Biblical sexuality.

Porn Recovery Apps for Teens:

Although technology is likely the problem causing the porn consumption, and taking away a device might be part of the punishment, you might consider allowing access to one of these apps as part of the recovery process:

Parents, please try each of these before you give them to your son or daughter. Although we’ve recommended them, you know best what content they might be ready for.

Related post: How to Talk to a 5-year-old About Pornography

5 Signs Your Child Might Need Professional Help for Their Pornography Addiction:

Parents will often ask us how to know if their child needs extra help. This list of behaviors was compiled from various counseling websites as a reference:

  • Your teen’s behavior is excessive.
  • Your teen can’t seem to stop viewing pornography.
  • Your teen’s pornography preferences are hardcore, bizarre, and/or illegal.
  • Your teen is engaging in sexual activities with strangers met online.
  • Your teen says they want to see a counselor.

(Please note: this list is not to be considered a medical diagnosis from Protect Young Eyes – parents are the final authority)

Counselors who we recommend in the West Michigan Area:

  • Adolescent and Family Behavior Health Services (Valencia Agnew), 616-719-0194
  • Sophie Werkhoven, LMSW, 616-264-3207
  • 3rd Chair (adolescent and young adult counseling)

 


My Child is Caught up in Sexting – Help!

An investigation posted this month in the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics found that the prevalence of teens who have sent (14.8%) or received (27.4%) a sext has increased in recent years. Frighteningly, this same meta study found that 12% of teens have forwarded a sext without consent.

Related information: Secret Vault Apps that can Hide Pictures

Helpful Proactive Steps for Talking to Your Child About Sexting:

Parents need to realize that the term “sexting” is derived from the activity of sending nude photos via an SMS text message (or iMessage if using an Apple device). But, for the purposes of this blog post, we’re also considering any nude image that is sent via a social media platform like Snapchat or Instagram (via direct message). Basically, any sending of a nude photo via the internet by a minor.

  • Start the conversation early. Much earlier than you think. If your child has a phone that can text then they should know what to do if they receive a photo of someone’s private parts. Period.
  • Check in often. Periodically ask your child if they’ve seen or received anything unusual. See our SCENARIOS below for more information.
  • Monitor the device. Monitoring text messages on iPhones is possible if you follow the right steps, which are laid out beautifully in this article from Net Sanity.
  • Tell them your expectations. It’s never ok to ask for a sext. It’s never ok to send a sext. Be firm and clear.
  • Explain the potential life-changing impacts of one click. Show them articles of kids whose lives have been radically changed by participating in sexting activity. They are everywhere. Once a photo is sent, all control of that photo is lost. But, maybe more important according to researcher Dr. Elizabeth Englander, a researcher who analyzes digital behaviors, is to emphasize the emotional impacts. “Parents can emphasize that kids who send these photos often regret it, feeling scared, depressed or even traumatized. That’s more likely to ring a bell and feel truthful to them.”

Common Sense Media has created this spectacular “talk along” resource to aid parents in having a conversation with their child about sexting and the many risks.

Our Protect Young Eyes friend, Lisa Taylor, has written this great faith-based book called There’s What on My Phone?* that can also be used to read along with your son or daughter.

We recently found this spectacular video that young girls can watch about sexting. Guys might also benefit from just understanding the issue better from the female perspective.

Scenario 1: My Child is Receiving Requests for a Sext

If you discover your child receives a sext, there are some special steps you might consider. The list below was created with the assistance of an experienced federal law enforcement officer:

  • Confiscate the phone from your child to prevent further exposure.
  • Immediately reply with “I do not want this message and stop sending me messages”.
  • Preserve as much evidence as possible (to give to law enforcement later).
  • Block the sender through whatever way he/she is communicating with your son/daughter.
  • Have a direct, but calm conversation with your son/daughter about the situation, understanding what role, if any, he/she has in the situation. Stay calm.
  • Based on the information gathered, determine next steps, which could include conversations with parents of other teens and/or contacting law enforcement.

Protect Young Eyes is not an attorney. Consult with a family attorney if necessary.

Scenario 2: My Child is Participating in Sexting with Another Child

Different states have different laws concerning minors who request and/or send nude photos of themselves or others to another minor child. This interactive map shows each state’s current sexting statues. Laws range from child porn to community service to taking certain classes about behavior (Kent County, MI is now experimenting with a new program to address teens who sext in this segment performed with Protect Young Eyes).

The situation becomes a bit more problematic for parents when their child is the one acting as a “bully,” who is coercing another child into sending a photo. This scenario likely involves at minimum, an embarrassing apology meeting with the parents of whatever child was on the other end of the request, and can also have legal implications.

According to Lawyers.com:

Because the parents typically own the mobile phone or other electronic device used by their teen for sexting, the parents may also be liable for civil damages if the sexting is done in a malicious or bullying manner. This can occur when sexting is done to blackmail or retaliate against an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.”

Again, Protect Young Eyes is not an attorney. Consult with a family attorney if necessary.

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. We constantly test products to make sure we only recommend solutions that we trust with our own families.

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Living life to the full! That's why He died and how I try to live. I have an eclectic list of professional experience...CPA, business advisor, youth pastor, development director, now educational resource manager for Covenant Eyes. God shares wild ideas with me about life while I run. I want to show parents how to protect their kids from online dangers, which led to the creation of Protect Young Eyes. We recently created Virtue in Media, the first digital citizenship curriculum based on Scripture (www.virtueinmedia.com).

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