Many parents want to know why they can’t just tell their kids not to look at porn. “Why isn’t this sufficient?” they ask me.
Unfortunately we no longer live in a society where exposure to highly sexualized content is a choice. Unhealthy sexual messages are found everywhere, not just in explicit material. In the locker room, walking down the street, talking or joking with friends, billboards, and every aspect of the media. If we only focus on teaching avoidance of pornography we are missing most of the picture (no pun intended). Even if children never come in contact with explicit material (highly unlikely), they are constantly being bombarded with unhealthy sexuality. This normalizes porn (when they are exposed, they will be less able to recognize that it is unhealthy), as well as normalizing a host of other damaging messages about their bodies, others’ bodies, and relationships. Parents must consistently push back against these messages with truth about healthy sexuality. Without these regular discussions of all aspects of healthy sexuality, children will grow up with warped perceptions of sexuality that can be very damaging. Remember: Whatever you don’t teach, the world will.