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How To Inoculate Kids From the Damage of Porn

Is it even possible to inoculate kids from the damage of pornography? YES! Kristen Jensen is on the podcast sharing practical tips & more.

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Many parents wonder if it’s even possible to inoculate kids from porn damage. Some wonder if avoiding the topic all-together is the best route (spoiler, this doesn’t work). Kristen Jensen, author of Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, offers her expertise on The BTR.ORG Podcast and in the full transcript below.

Inoculate Children From The Damage of Pornography By Talking To Them About It

One powerful way to inoculate children from the effects of pornography is to speak only to them about what pornography is and why it is harmful. Equally important is for children to have a clear and concise plan for how to respond when they do encounter pornographic material.

 There is a generation of people who did not talk about sexual acting-out, who did not talk about pornography, who did not openly speak about masturbation in their homes, and they are now a generation of unfaithful and abusive men that my listeners are married to. We know that the “not talking about it” doesn’t work. I’m not sure what the consequences of talking about pornography with my children will be; I don’t know what they will be 30 or 40 years out, but I do know that the other way does not work.

Anne Blythe, founder of BTR.ORG

Inoculate Children From The Damage of Pornography By Communicating a Clear Plan of Action

When children do encounter pornographic material (and they most likely will), it is important for them to have simple steps in place, that they can take to counter the effects that the pornography can have on their brains and bodies.

The first three steps from the Can Do plan is to help children know exactly how to respond when they see it: close your eyes, tell a trusted adult, and name it when you see it. All these things help the thinking brain reject pornography. The last two, the D and O, are distract yourself and always keep the thinking brain the boss.

Kristen Jensen, author of Good Pictures, Bad Pictures

Transparency is Key to Inoculating Children From The Damaging Effects of Pornography

We don’t shame the child. We teach the child the truth that this can make them really curious. And that it can also be like rat poison. It tastes really good to the rats but once they start eating it, it begins to destroy them.

Kristen Jensen, author of Good Pictures, Bad Pictures

When mothers tell their children the truth about pornography and its enticing effects on the human brain and body, children are better equipped to handle it when it comes their way and to act on their proactive plan.

Inoculating Kids and Teens Against Sexting and Sextortion

Children and teens are increasingly participating in or threatened into producing pornographic material of themselves. This crisis is real, and children and teens can adhere to the following steps to protect themselves from sexting an sextortion, as stated by Kristen Jensen:

  1. If someone tries to show you bad pictures or videos, look away. Remember to turn, run, and tell.
  2. If you ever see a bad picture or video, never show it to another child. There is research that shows that this is exactly what kids do. They show it to another child. This is rampant. When I first saw a pornographic magazine, who did I show? My little sister! So this is the most common thing for little kids to do. They need to be taught, outright, and specifically, never to show a bad picture to another child.
  3. They should never let someone take a picture of them without their clothes on. If someone ever tries that, they should tell their mom or dad or a trusted adult.
  4. Never take pictures or videos of yourself without clothes on. Kids these days are unfortunately producing pornography. They are producing child pornography.
  5. If you see a bad picture or video and it keeps popping up in your mind, go and tell mom or dad or a trusted adult; say, “I need your help to make the bad picture go away.” We have specific instructions in the back of the book on how to help children minimize those shocking memories of exposure to pornography.

BTR.ORG Is Here For You

As you work to protect your children from the dangers of pornography, remember that we are here to support you.

Consider attending a BTR.ORG Group Session today.

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:00): Kristen Jensen is here today, one of my friends in the anti-pornography movement. She is amazing. I’ve known her for a long time. She is the author of The Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books, including the bestselling Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. We use this in my home, and it’s one of my favorite books to use for kids. Welcome, Kristen.

Kristen (00:25): Hi, Anne. Thanks for having me.

Good Pictures, Bad Pictures 

Anne (00:27): Yes, I love Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Junior. Kristen gave me a copy, and I’ve been using it with my five-year-old and my two-year-old. It is so helpful. Tell me, Kristen, why did you write a book about pornography for young kids?

Kristen (00:43): I saw that there was a problem. It took three years, and then as I was speaking, I have had parents of younger children because our original book is for seven, six, or seven years old to maybe 11, although I’ve had therapists actually use it for adults.

So the principles and the concepts are really for any age. I’ve had people ask me, “Hey, can you write a book for younger children?” which took my breath away the first time I was asked that younger children are on the internet, so we need to safeguard them and give them a heads up and train them in how to respond to bad pictures so they can recognize what they are and have a plan for what to do when they see them.

Anne (01:35): I have your Can-Do Plan taped to my eight-year-old and five-year-old’s wall.

The “Can Do Plan”

Kristen (01:40): Awesome. Yeah, that’s from the original book and it’s great. The first three steps of that Can-Do plan help children know exactly how to respond when they see it. So close your eyes, always tell a trusted adult, and name it when you see it. All those things help the thinking brain reject pornography.

And then the last two, the D and the O distract yourself and always keep the thinking brain in the boss, and I explained more about it obviously in the book, but those two things help children deal with the shocking memories that pornography creates, and these memories come back to haunt them time and time again, and sometimes to lure them back into curiously going and looking for pornography. It’s important to deal with the initial exposure and then the memories that exposure creates.

“We know that not talking about it doesn’t work”

Anne (02:34): We know that not talking about it doesn’t work. Now, I’m not sure exactly what the consequences of talking about pornography are going to be with my children. I don’t know what the consequences are going to be 30 years out or 40 years out, but I do know that the other way does not work. And so I am willing to say this open dialogue, layered communication about mental health, about sexual health is so important for our kids, and this is a very appropriate way to start the conversation and learn how to talk about it because pretty comfortable talking about it.

This is what I do for my job, and I’m a professional in the industry, but for people who don’t say the word “masturbation” six times a day like I do, they may be like, “How do I do that?” And your books are perfect for that. What do you recommend is the right age to start talking about pornography?

Start talking about pornography when your children start accessing the internet

Kristen (03:29): I always have been taught not to answer a question with a question, but I’m going to right now it is the question is how old are your children when they get access to the internet? So if they’re three years old when they get access to the internet, wherever they go, then three is the time to start talking.

Anne (03:53): And the answer is not, “Then I will never give them access to the internet” because that’s going to happen whether we like it or not.

“Everybody has a portal to porn in their pocket”

Kristen (04:02): That ship has sailed or the horse is out of the barn, however you want to say it, it’s gone. It’s all around. Everybody has a portal to porn in their pocket. This is a story that was told by a sex addiction therapist who did everything she could to protect her young son and sent him to a private Christian school hoping that that would be safer than the public school. And a little classmate of his whipped out his cell phone, his cell phone at age six and showed him pornography on it.

We’re living in a crazy world that allows access to this kind of material to children, and the only way we can deal with it besides doing what we can with filters and having the family come together and say, “Hey, we want to work together to protect ourselves from pornography.” The only other way I can think is to inoculate you can’t control exposure. That’s why inoculation started with smallpox, and we were able to get rid of smallpox, eradicated it from the earth because we went around and inoculated everybody.

As soon as you start living in the real world, get out of the bubble, you’re going to face this head-on so your kids don’t have to face it alone. You’re going to make your kids safer.

“They’re just trying their best to protect their children”

Anne (05:34): Our listeners, they live in the real world because they are dealing with their husband’s sex addiction. So they are very aware of the pain and the chaos that it creates, and they’re just trying their best to protect their children.

Kristen (05:49): I was just at the solar eclipse in the course of conversation. People, they ask what I do, and when I tell them, you can just tell they are clueless, they have no clue. They do not have a clue how pervasive this problem is. I tell ’em stats on marriage, divorce, and kids getting into this. And it just made me realize once again that so many people don’t even have an awareness of the problem.

Anne (06:21): It’s not on their radar.

Kristen (06:23): No.

Anne (06:24): Or they think, “Oh, yeah, that’s out there, but my kids are great kids. They would never do that.”

“We’re wired to biologically respond [to pornography].”

Kristen (06:30): Yeah, that’s a real mistake because kids responding to pornography is the most natural thing in the world. Normal. We’re all biologically excited by naked pictures. We’re wired to biologically respond. So you’re basically trying to teach a child to do something that their brain actually is very curious about. So that’s why we talk about in Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, how it can feel like the pole of a giant magnet.

We own that. We admit that, and I think that’s where there’s so much safety, and we don’t shame the child. And we just teach a child the truth that this could make you really curious, but it could also be kind of like rat poison. The rat poison tastes really good to the rats, but once they start eating it, it starts to destroy them.

“In the short term, it’s exciting.”

Anne (07:28): Yeah. My son, he’s eight now, and I’ve been talking to him about pornography since he was three, and now he’ll say things like, “Mom, so why would people look at pornography if it’s so bad?” And I say, “Because it makes you feel really good.” Same thing with heroin. People do drugs because it feels really good when they’re doing heroin or when they’re looking at porn, they’re not feeling the consequences of their actions. They’re not understanding that it’s affecting them and everyone else. It just feels really good.

Kristen (07:59): It’s funny because it’s exactly what we say in the book, and that’s one of the questions that comes up like, “Why would people look at this?” And it’s because in the short term, it’s exciting.

Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr. Addresses Sexting & Sextortion

Anne (08:12): Right. So your new book, Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr includes five safety rules that can help children stay safe from sexting and sextortion. Can you talk to us about those five safety rules?

Kristen (08:25): We have realized that since the publication of our first book, one of the things that’s becoming a big problem is sexting, but not only sexting, sextortion. And that is where children, teenagers, even adults, are groomed online. They get in a situation where they think they’re in a friendship or even a romantic relationship, and they give over pictures of themselves that are compromising to say the least. And when they get these pictures, they call it extortion because then they are extorted, meaning they are threatened.

If they don’t produce more graphic photos, and they’re threatened with, “We’ll tell your parents, we’ll put it out on the internet, give us money.” And the FBI says it is the leading, growing problem among kids right now. That’s why we included the safety rules. So, for example, number one is if someone tries to show you bad pictures or videos, look away, remember to turn, run, and tell. The second one, if you ever see a bad picture or video, never show it to another child.

“If we don’t want our kids to fall victim, we need to teach them.”

(09:43): There’s research that shows that that’s exactly what kids do. They show it to another child. This is rampant. When I first saw a pornographic magazine, who did I show? My little sister? And so it’s just the most common thing for kids to do. So you need to teach them outright and specifically never to show a bad picture to another child. Then you teach them that you should never let anyone take a picture of you without your clothes on.

So if someone ever tries to do that, tell your mom or dad or a trusted adult right away. And number four is never take pictures or videos of yourself without clothes on. If we don’t want our kids to fall victim, we need to teach them. And then finally, if you see a bad picture or video and it keeps popping up in your mind, go and tell mom or dad or a trusted adult, say, “I need your help to make the bad picture go away.” And we have specific instructions in the back of the book on how to help children minimize those shocking memories of exposure to pornography.

Defend Young Minds & BTR.ORG Are Here For You

Anne (10:54): I use this in my home, like I said before, and it’s so helpful. So Kristen, besides your books, what other resources have you created to help parents?

Kristen (11:01): Whenever we do a blog, we usually have some kind of a free download. They can be a series of questions for conversation starters. They can be questions to ask your school administrator or principal, how safe is the school? What have they done to protect kids against porn exposure there? And have they trained kids what to do if they see pornography on a school computer or on the school grounds?

Anne (11:29): I am so grateful that you’re here today and I’m so grateful that you wrote this book, Kristen.

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