by Anne Kerr
Family Care Specialist
At a sleepover during my fifth-grade year, everything changed for me. Of all the things we did, I have only one clear memory of that night: the 8”x10” glossy porn image that my friend stealthily pulled from a manila envelope hidden on top of the refrigerator. It left an impression on my brain and a wound in my heart, and decades later I can still feel its impact.
That photo was the first of many porn images I saw over the next several years. Magazines my brothers left in an upstairs bathroom and others in a home where I babysat tempted me, and I would often give in. I knew very little about human anatomy or sex, and the magazines were my incredibly destructive teachers which left me with more questions than answers. Feeling very ashamed and unsure about many things related to sexuality, I stumbled my way into adulthood with more than my share of missteps.
Fast-forward to 2021, and kids have not changed one bit. They still enjoy sleepovers. They are still naive and curious. And they still need to learn about things related to bodies and sex. But the ways in which most of them learn about sexual topics have changed dramatically. And the content they can easily access is infinitely more destructive than the Playboy magazines of the 70s.
Your children need to learn about bodies, sex, sexuality, relationships, and a host of other related topics. Will they learn about them from you and from God’s perspective? Or will they, like most of us, be greatly influenced by the world’s messaging?
The reality is that most of today’s kids (at increasingly younger ages) are learning about sexuality from things like…
Real Stories from Families
Often I hear stories of how kids were exposed to sexual themes, many explicit and damaging:
“My daughter’s friend asked if she wanted to see some boobs which led to a quick Google Images search.”
“My eight-year-old found a documentary on porn on our family’s streaming service. Somehow it got through the filters we’d set up.”
“My child had a friend who set up a proxy server on our computer, and he would get up early in the morning to watch porn.”
“My child was abused on the school bus.”
“My son’s class had to read the book ‘I am Jazz’ (a book about transgenderism) to kids a couple of grades below them.”
“A YouTube video for kids suddenly showed inappropriate content.”
“Sports Illustrated website and their swimsuit issue.”
“My homeschooled daughter wanted to know what sex was like, discovered porn, and began viewing it.”
“My teen daughter has been inviting her boyfriend over after we’ve all gone to bed.”
“My 14-year-old son heard that a female classmate would send a nude photo if he asked. So he did, and she sent one.”
“In my son’s Trigonometry class, two kids performed a public sex act when the teacher left the room.”
“A commercial with two men holding hands.”
“In first grade my child is learning about The Gender Unicorn.” (Feel free to Google it.)
“A middle-schooler came into my counseling office asking if she had to have sex. She’d read the Fifty Shades of Grey books and was worried about sex being painful.”
“My daughter entered public school for the first time after being homeschooled, and several kids asked her how she identified.”
“As part of an anti-bullying effort, my 11-year-old was required to complete a survey that used terms like pansexual, non-binary, and cis gender. He was embarrassed to tell me that he didn’t understand many of the terms used.”
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed, perhaps nauseous? I’m so sorry to have to bear this news, but you need to understand how different today’s world is and how very sexualized it has become. Your kids will have their own experiences just as you and I did. They will search for answers to their questions, they will be intrigued with sexual things, and at times they will experience sexual feelings as they encounter sexual things. They are human, and humans are sexual beings. They’re also your precious children, and I know you want to help guide them as well as protect them.
Many parents feel that homeschool or private school is the answer. But the enemy of our souls understands the significance of sexuality and will work in a multitude of ways to ensnare all of God’s children, even yours. All children today are quite vulnerable to his attacks.
Encouragement to Parents
While you cannot totally wrap your child in a protective cocoon and somehow miss all the sexual messaging in today’s hyper-sexualized world, you can become more aware and create an environment where your kids feel safe to talk with you about it. And you can share information about bodies, sex, sexuality, porn, culture, and relationships through short, honest conversations. You can become your child’s go-to for this information by beginning early and sharing consistently, gently, and proactively. With God’s help you can undo much of the shame your child may internalize related to sexuality. To a great extent you can counteract much of the sexual misinformation and counterfeits your kids will encounter.
Many parents today dismiss the onslaught of sexual messaging and consider it harmless. Others simply aren’t aware of its destructiveness and the easy access to sexual content online. Many minimize the challenges saying this is just the way kids learn about sex in 2021.
I believe you want more for your kids. Stay tuned.
*Today’s porn is very destructive, highly addictive, and easily accessible. Dr. Gail Dines’ organization, Culture Reframed, explains the current porn crisis well here: https://www.culturereframed.org/the-porn-crisis/.