Porn hurts families.

It’s that simple. Porn is not harmless, no matter how much it may be portrayed as something “fun” or, at the very least, a “victimless crime” (as if those in porn aren’t victims themselves – porn is inseparably linked to human sex trafficking).

I don’t know if it’s all the sex scandals rocking the American church right now, or the emails that I’m getting, but I’m very burdened by the porn problem again. All of these pastors who abused kids in their youth group, or who sexually harassed women–I wonder how many of them had porn as one of the underlying factors? I’d be willing to bet quite a few. And I don’t want to be fear-mongering, but folks in the UK have been grappling with this problem, as a growing number of murders have occurred shortly after the perpetrator watched violent pornography.

Good people get sucked into porn. People from good families. People who honestly want to live for God. But they start watching it, and because of porn’s effect on the brain, they need different porn and weirder porn to sustain the same excitement. So while they may get started with stuff that is relatively innocuous, it’s all too easy to soon be watching extremely degrading and violent pornography. Indeed, most porn on the internet now is very violent.

Porn is serious. In 2016, Utah passed a resolution that stated that online pornography is a public health crisis. Seven other US states and the government of the UK have done the same. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation recently published a policy brief on porn’s public health effects.

I’ve written before about the effects of porn on your marriage and your sex life, but I want to take a step back right now, because what I really want to do is to stop the problem before it starts. I hear from so many wives whose husbands battle with pornography, or who think there’s nothing wrong with it, and in the process they’re wrecking their marriages. And it is so hard to stop.

But what if we simply never started? Prevention, it seems to me, is a better idea. So I’d like to dedicate today in sharing some facts about porn and your family that can help you help your kids withstand porn.

1. Not all teenage boys will be tempted by porn or will use porn

Here’s something to celebrate, before we get into the gross stuff. Not all boys use porn! Yes, porn is a huge temptation for many. But when we present it in youth group as “you guys will all battle with us” and “everyone struggles with this”, we make it sound like it’s something that is impossible to withstand. And not all guys DO struggle with porn. Many do, but not all. In fact, a recent survey of Canadian boys and teenagers found that 60% of boys between 4th and 11th grade never look for porn online (though they may come across it or see it when others show it to them).

I have known teenage boys who have started to look at porn because in youth group that’s all they heard about, and they thought they were weird for not seeking it out. So let’s make sure our message is balanced–yes, it’s a temptation, but you can withstand it, many guys do, and you are better than this.

2. Girls use porn, too.

While boys use porn more than girls, a recent Swedish study of high school students found that 53% of teenage girls had ever viewed pornography and that one in three reported watching it recently. Approximately 10% actually said they’d like to watch more porn than they currently do. A particularly concerning finding of the study is that girls sought porn out because they are curious about sex. This is where people are getting their sex education!

3. Most children see pornography first at home

In a study from Middlesex university, nearly 60% of children age 11-16 reported viewing porn for the first time at their own home. They first accessed porn through a variety of devices: laptops (38%), cell phone (33%), and desktop computers (24%). Keeping our homes as safe as we can is imperative, and there needs to be serious conversation about preteens and teenagers using mobile electronics like laptops and cell phones in a safe way.

4. Children often stumble upon pornography

More children initially stumble upon pornography than seek it out, a recent study found. Peter Wanless, the head of a large children’s charity in the UK focused on preventing sexual abuse (The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) told the BBC, “A generation of children are in danger of being stripped of their childhoods at a young age by stumbling across extreme and violent porn online.” And I know this is an anecdote, but it’s sobering nonetheless: a teacher embarked on a study of parent-child communication on porn when she saw an advertisement with a topless woman on the sidebar of a children’s entertainment site on a student’s screen during class.

5. Kids often see porn for the first time at 12 years old

Covenant eyes did a survey that found that the average age kids first see porn is 12 years old and that 90% of boys and 60% of girls will be exposed to porn before the age of 18. An Australian government survey found that nearly half of teens are regularly exposed to sexual images.


You CAN protect your kids!

You can make sure that kids won’t inadvertently stumble upon porn on the internet at your house. I’m an affiliate for Covenant Eyes, and a firm believer in setting up filters for our kids. And you get a month free when you sign up with me!

Covenant Eyes--Protect Your Family from Porn

Check out Covenant Eyes here! 

You can protect your computers, tablets, iPads, and phones. And they have GREAT resources to help you talk to your teens, too!


6. Most parents don’t know their kids are watching porn

Parents often underestimate the extent of their teen’s risky online behavior according to a 2013 study. They found that factors that predicted underestimating these behaviors included: “a permissive parenting style, difficulty communicating about online risks, and household environmental variables such as having access to a private computing space.” Keeping our heads out of the sand is so important, as is talking to kids about these important issues.

7. Porn use is progressive

People may start with the “playboy” type pictures, but because of the effects on the brain, they keep needing new stimulus. Porn use escalates: frequent users will often find they need to use more porn and that the porn needs to be more extreme for them to get the same result. Now, not everyone who uses porn ends up in the hamster wheel of needing more and more different types of porn… but many do.

8. Porn can make boys look down on girls

A group of expert witnesses in a panel discussion with UK Members of Parliament discussed the effects that online pornography has had on sexual harassing behavior in schools. They reported that girls had increasingly begun to wear shorts under their skirts in order to prevent boys from revealing their underwear on the playground and noted that they felt that the increased acceptance of sexual harassing behavior in UK schools is due to the proliferation of online pornography. That’s absolutely heartbreaking.

A review article published in 2017 in the journal Dignity by John D Fubert noted,

“I came to the realization that the secret ingredient in the recipe for rape was not secret at all… That ingredient, responsible for giving young men the permission-giving beliefs that make rape so much more likely and telling women they should like it, is today’s high speed Internet pornography.”

A recent study of boys in the UK found that almost 40% of 13-14 year old boys and 20% of 11-12 year old boys wanted to copy the sexual behaviors they saw in porn videos. And then we wonder why so many marriages struggle with healthy sexuality!

Here are 10 crucial facts to know about pornography in order to protect your children. Prevent the problem from happening in the first place!

9. Porn can make girls tolerate violence

A study published in 2010 found that over 85% of porn videos include physical aggression. Think about that for a moment–most sex that is in porn is VIOLENT. Dear Lord, help us.

How have we come to the point where something that God made to be so beautiful, so intimate–has become so twisted?

Sex is now a weapon used against women, not something that can bring us together. And if watching that porn gives someone sexual arousal and release (since porn is usually paired with masturbation), then it’s very likely that when you’re in a relationship with an actual human being, tenderness and affection won’t be sexy. Only rough stuff will be. And it’s not just boys who expect this. In 2006, a study was released which showed that girls who viewed porn were also more likely to experience sexual violence. Why? Because that’s what we accept as normal. That’s where we’re getting our sex ed, after all.

10. Viewing porn affects body image

This data comes from adults, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t also apply to teenagers. Women who used pornography reported lower body image in a 2008 study. In the same study, men who viewed porn were more critical of their partner’s bodies. This is a less dramatic problem than increases in sexual harassing behavior, but it points to the fact that using porn trains you to see people in terms of their bodies–what can they do, how hot are they, can they turn me on–and it doesn’t show people to see women as whole beings.

In light of all of this, what can we do to protect our families from porn?

We can’t guarantee that our kids will see pornography, but we can help to foster a home environment that would allow them to come and talk to us if they get into trouble (More on what to do if you catch your child watching porn here!). Let them know that it’s normal to be curious and to be tempted, but that you want to help them avoid some of the more serious consequences of porn use.

And that’s so important–frame it in terms of wanting the best for them, not in terms of wanting to shame them. When we only talk about porn as “something God hates” or “a sin” or something like that, then it’s hard for them to talk to us. But when we say, “God doesn’t like porn, and here’s why.” and give them the reasons that porn is so bad for us, then it makes it easier for them to seek help.

But, to be honest, I’d rather that kids had a harder time accessing porn in the first place–and that they didn’t inadvertently stumble onto something!

Remember: most porn users started because they saw something by accident.

We can’t avoid all accidents. We can’t stop them from seeing porn at a friend’s house. We can’t stop it all. But we can make it less common and easier to avoid. I’d recommend all families check out Covenant Eyes (and you can try it for a month for free with this link!).

Please, let’s stop this and protect our kids’ future marriages and well-being. It really does matter.

What have you done to make your house a porn-free place? What are some challenges you’ve faced? Let’s talk in the comments!

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