Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written,
‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” ~Matthew 4:10
The pebble in my shoe is a little stone that rubs my foot,
when I walk. Over time the pebble makes
a sore on my foot. My foot may become
callous to the pebble, if the pebble stays in one spot. But, then the pebble shifts a little and I
start getting irritated again. The
simple answer is to take off my shoe, take out the pebble and then have a happy
life. Unfortunately, the pebble in my
shoe keeps getting replaced.
The pebble in my shoe is a question … If giving honor to the
names of other gods offends the Creator God, why does my calendar come
pre-printed with the names of seven false gods?
For example, if I want to set an appointment on Creation Day
5 of this week, people don’t understand what I am talking about. I have to give honor to Thor, the god of
Thunder, for people to understand I am setting an appointment on Thursday. When I get ready to set an appointment, the
pebble in my shoe gets irritated. The
fifth day of the week does not belong to the false god, Thor.
God is offended that I would take the day that He created
and dedicate it to a false god. This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
When God looks at us, He does not want any false gods in
God said, “You shall have no other God’s before me.”
I am not working hard in honor of the Sun, Moon, Thunder or any false god. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the LORD and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. ~Colossians 3:23-24
Parents, what conversation is dreaded more than the first one about pornography? I’m not sure there is one! Teaching kids about where babies come from seems simple in comparison. The good news is that it’s not as difficult as you think. I’ve broken it down into three relatively painless steps: start early, empower kids with the basics, and keep on learning and talking!
1. Start Early
How early should you begin warning your child about pornography? The short answer is as soon as they have any access to the internet (or apps that lead to the internet). #SoonerIsSafer! No conscientious parent allows a child access to a busy street without teaching them about the dangers of oncoming cars. It just makes sense to give young kids a gentle warning about harmful content as soon as they are allowed to play on the byways of the internet.
Susan is a very protective mom, and very wise, too. She told me about the time when her 7-year-old son was exposed to pornography by a neighbor. A few days earlier, she had re-read Good Pictures Bad Pictures to her son and reminded him of what to do if he ever saw a bad picture. Although it was distressing, everything worked according to plan! He turned away and went home and told his mom what he had seen. Thankfully, he was prepared!
Children who are caught off guard by pornography are not safe. They are more vulnerable than children who have been warned and given a plan for responding to exposure.
When a parent begins early, it’s not awkward for the child. As the adult, you create the context. Parents continue to tell me that their kids take it well, and that broaching the topic creates an even stronger, more trusting bond with their child.
Don’t be scared—be prepared!
2. Empower Kids with Three Basics
Children need to know three things about pornography:
What it is—they need an appropriate definition of pornography.
Why it’s harmful—so many kids grow up without a clue that pornography can hurt their young minds—they need good information!
How to reject it—a simple plan so they know exactly what to do when they see pornography.
An age-appropriate definition of pornography for a young child gives them just enough information so they can recognize it. In my Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books, I use the following simple definition. “Pornography means pictures, videos or even cartoons of people with little or no clothes on…that focus on the private parts of the body we keep covered with a swimsuit.”
Some critics argue that pornography should not be equated with nudity or else it will cause “body shame.” I take great pains to assure kids that “every part of your body is good, including your private parts. But taking pictures of them and sharing them with others is not good.” Kids are very literal, and nuance is lost on them. Just teach them to come and tell you if they see nudity or near nudity and you can enlighten them if they need additional understanding. For simple tips on how to explain the difference between porn and art to a child, read this blog post.
Explain why it’s harmful. For young children, I use the “picture poison” analogy in my Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. book. You’ve already taught them about poison and harmful substances. Pictures can poison the mind, too. Again, reassurance is critical: “There’s something good you can do if you see a bad picture.”
Older children can learn how pornography can become a bad habit or even an addiction. Once kids understand the process of addiction, they have a real opportunity to protect their own brains. Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids describes how the “thinking brain” and the “feeling brain” can work together to stay safe from addiction. This article from my website ProtectYoungMinds.org contains a simplified explanation of how addictions develop.
3. Give Kids a Plan
It’s common wisdom to teach kids to respond to a fire or active shooter. They need the same “fire drill” for pornography. Thankfully, most children won’t deal with a fire or a shooter, but all of them will need to escape from pornography.
The “escape” plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. is simply “Turn, Run and Tell!” Turn away from the bad picture, hurry and get away, and go tell a trusted adult what you saw. The CAN DO Plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures helps kids not only turn away from it, but to label it by saying “That’s pornography!” This allows kids to have more control over their thoughts by engaging their thinking brain.
Finally, help your kids to know how to minimize or “forget” any shocking images they are exposed to by learning to redirect their thoughts to something they get excited about. For example, if they love horses, have them think about saddling up and galloping away! And encourage them to keep practicing—it takes several times, but every time a bad image pops up, just keep thinking about something else. Pretty soon, that memory will begin to fade.
No Child Deserves to Face the Porn Industry Alone
Kids who interface with screens need to know what pornography is, why it’s harmful and what to do when they see it. And they also need constant mentoring. Some families use #TalkTechTuesdays to address all kinds of digital age issues. Whatever day you choose, make sure you keep talking with your kids and listening to their experiences.
I am grateful for caring adults who choose to confront pornography head on so kids won’t have to face it alone. And once you begin the conversation, it gets easier and more comfortable. You CAN DO it.
Kristen A. Jenson, MA is the founder of Protect Young Minds and best-selling author of the Good Pictures Bad Picturesseries of read-aloud books. She serves on the Safeguard Alliance founded by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
“Talk with teens about possible regret.” That’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics says about tattoos and body piercings. But when it comes to giving a girl who thinks she’s a boy a double mastectomy, the same organization thinks parents should “respect” their kids’ wishes.
That’s just part of the hypocrisy Dr. Michelle Cretella was trying to point out about the liberal medical community in a popular video for the Daily Signal. I say “trying,” because after two years, the flaggers at YouTube decided to pull down the 2017 content and ban it. The truth about transgenderism, they said, “violates YouTube’s hate speech policy.” According to liberal flaggers, the offensive part was just one sentence — but, as Daily Signal editor Katrina Trinko explained on Thursday’s “Washington Watch,” it was an important one.
“If I walk into my doctor’s office today and say, ‘Hi, I’m Margaret Thatcher,’ my physician will say I am delusional and give me an anti-psychotic,” Dr. Cretella explained. But, “if instead, I walked in and said, ‘I’m a man,’ he would say, ‘Congratulations, you’re transgender.’ If I were to say, ‘Doc, I’m suicidal because I’m an amputee trapped in a normal body, please cut off my leg,’ I will be diagnosed with body identity integrity disorder. But if I walk into that doctor’s office and say, ‘I am a man, sign me up for a double mastectomy,’ my physician will.” Then came the part that really set YouTube off: “See, if you want to cut off a leg or an arm you’re mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re transgender.”
Nothing that Dr. Cretella said is medically inaccurate. “And yet [it’s] so ‘offensive,'” Katrina argued, that “YouTube cannot even let it be said.” And what’s even more incredible is that this video has been online for a whole two years! It already has 70 million views. If YouTube wanted to keep the lid on these facts, they sure took their time doing it. But even now, after months of back-and-forth with the Daily Signal, it’s obvious the company isn’t concerned about truth or fairness. “We said, ‘Hey, we understand you’re a private company. We respect that you have the right to have your own rules. But we really think that this is a targeting of conservatives. Can we come to some sort of understanding?”
YouTube’s answer? No. “Ultimately, we were told the only way we could get the video back on YouTube was to delete the sentence [about cutting off healthy body parts]. In other words, we had two choices: censor the doctor’s words or have no video on the world’s biggest video platform.” That, Katrina said, “should horrify every YouTube user — and anyone who values the importance of a public square featuring a variety of perspectives.”
At a time when children are being legitimately and irreparably hurt by this ideology, the last thing any social media company should be doing is silencing experts. Dr. Cretella is a pediatrician with decades of professional experience. She understands the consequences of this because she’s seen them. If families reinforce and support their kids’ biological gender through puberty, “the vast majority of gender-confused children [as many as 98 percent!] get better.” But here we are, she warns, rushing to “chemically castrate gender-confused children with puberty blockers. Then we permanently sterilize many of them by adding cross-sex hormones, which also put them at risk for heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancers, and even the very emotional problems that the gender experts claim to be treating.”
The truth may be uncomfortable. The science might be “offensive.” But what people don’t know about this fad of self-expression is destroying our children’s futures. The Left can’t debate Dr. Cretella — they can’t argue against the facts — so they call it “hate speech.” It’s time for the rest of us to rise up and speak out — while we still can! Conservatives may not be as loud and noisy and quick to complain as liberals, Katrina says, “but we exist.” And we should be allowed to speak freely. If you agree, weigh in. Tweet at them: @YouTube and @google. Or leave a message on Google’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Google/) or YouTube’s (https://www.facebook.com/youtube/).
Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.