How To Protect Young Children From The Damage Of Pornography Exposure
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. I'm Anne. Kristen Jensen is here today - one of my friends from the anti-pornography movement. She's 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 best-selling Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today's Young Kids. We use this in our home; it's one of my favorite books for kids.
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 best-selling Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today's Young Kids. We use this in our home; it's one of my favorite books for kids.
She is the founder of protectyoungminds.org, a website dedicated to helping parents empower their kids to reject pornography. Recently she was invited to testify before the Washington State Senate Law and Justice Committee on the public health crisis of pornography. Kristen is a frequent guest and speaker on podcasts, webinars, radio broadcasts, and is a leader in the Prevention Task Force of the National Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation.
Personally, she is a mother of two daughters and a son who is waiting for her in heaven. She lives with her husband in the beautiful state of Washington. She earned her BA in English Literature and her MA in Organizational Communication. Welcome, Kristen!
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Kristen: Hi Anne! Thanks for having me!
Anne: I LOVE Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr! Kristen gave me a copy and I've been using it with my 5-year-old and my 2-year-old. It is so helpful. I am so excited to announce that Kristen has donated three copies of Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr to our listeners. So if you have a child ages 3-6, you need this book! Please go to our Instagram profile @betrayaltraumarecovery. Follow us on Instagram; tag three of your friends who also have children ages 3-6 so they can be made aware of this really important resource for kids. The giveaway will end Wednesday at 6 pm. You will be notified via private message on Instagram.
Tell me, Kristen, why did you write a book about pornography for young kids?
Kristen: I saw that there was a problem. It took three years and then as I was speaking, I had parents of younger children--because our original book is for ages 7-11, even though therapists have used it for adults; the principles and concepts are for any age--ask if I could write a book for younger children. It took my breath away the first time I was asked that! Younger children are on the internet so we need to safe guard them and train them how to respond to bad pictures--to recognize what they are and have a plan of what to do when they see them.
Anne: I have your Can Do Plan taped to my 8 and 5-year-olds wall.
Kristen: Awesome! This is from the original book. It is great! 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; I explain more about it in the book; these things help children deal with the shocking memories that pornography creates. These memories come back to haunt them and sometimes lure them back into curiously going and looking for pornography. It's important to deal with the initial exposure and then the memories that this exposure creates.
Will Talking About Pornography With Children Make Them More Curious?
Anne: I talk with parents all the time. One of their concerns is that their kids are too young and that they shouldn't talk about pornography with their kids because they are worried about curiosity and such. My response usually is that there is a generation of people who did not talk about sexual addiction, who did not talk about pornography, who did not openly speak about masturbation in their homes, and they are now a generation of porn addicts 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.
So I am willing to say that this open dialog and layered communication about mental health, about sexual health is so important for our kids and this is a very appropriate way to begin the conversation and talk about it. I'm pretty comfortable talking about it because this is what I do for my job. 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 wonder how they do this. Your books are perfect for this. What do you recommend is the right age to begin talking about pornography?
How Do We Protect Our Children From Pornography?
Kristen: I always have been taught to not answer the question I am now going to answer! The question is, "How old are your children when they get access to the internet?" If they are 3 years old when they get access to the internet, then 3 is the time to start talking.
Anne: And the answer is not, "Then I will never give them access to the internet!" Access is going to happen whether we like it or not.
Kristen: That ship has sailed; that horse is out of the barn! However you want to say it, it's gone. It's all around. Everyone 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. She sent him to a private Christian school, hoping it would be safer than a public school. A classmate of his looked at his cell phone--at age 6!--and showed him pornography on it. We are living in a crazy world that allows access to this kind of material to children. T
he only way we can deal with it besides doing what we can with filters and having the family come together to work together to protect ourselves from pornography, the only other way I can think is to inoculate. We cannot control exposure. That is why inoculation started with small pox. A few could get rid of smallpox, to eradicate it from the earth because we went around and inoculated everyone. As soon as you start living in the real world, getting out of the bubble, we are going to have to face this head on…and help to make children safer as a result.
Women Who Are Married To Porn Users Want To Protect Their Kids From Exposure To Pornography
Anne: Our listeners live in the real world because they are dealing with their husband's sex addiction. They are very aware of the pain and the chaos that this creates. They are trying their best to protect their children.
Kristen: I was just at the solar eclipse. During conversations, people ask what I do. When I tell them, you can tell they are clueless. They do not have a clue how pervasive this problem is. I tell them stats on marriage, divorce, kids being involved...it made me realize once again that so many people don't even have an awareness of the problem.
Anne: It's not on their radar or they think it's just out there and their kids are great kids and would never do that.
It's Normal For Kids To Be Curious About Pornography, But It's Not Healthy For Them To View It
Kristen: That's a real mistake because kids responding to pornography is the most natural thing in the world. It's normal. We are all biologically excited by naked pictures. We are wired to biologically respond. We are basically trying to teach a child to do something that their brain is very curious about. This is why we say this in my book--how it can feel like the pull of a giant magnet. We own that, we admit it. This is where there is so much safety. 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.
Anne: My son is eight now and I have been talking to him about pornography since he was 3. Now he will say things like, "Mom, why would people look at pornography if it's so bad?" I say, "Because it makes people feel really good." It's the same thing with heroine. People do drugs because it feels really good! When they're doing heroine or looking at porn they're not feeling the consequences of their actions. They aren't understanding it's affecting them and everyone else; it just feels really good.
Kristen: This is exactly what we say in the book. It's one of the questions that comes up: Why would people look at this? It's because in the short term it's exciting.
Anne: Right. So in your new book Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr includes 5 saftey rules to help children stay safe from sexting and sextortion. Can you talk to us about these 5 safety rules?
Kristen: We have realized that since the publication of our first book, one of the things that has become a big problem is sexting; but not only sexting but sextortion--where children, teens, and even adults are groomed online--where they get in a situation where they think they are in a friendship or a romantic relationship and they give pictures of themselves that are compromising at the very least. When pornographers (my word) get these pictures, they call it sextortion, meaning they are threatened if they do not produce more graphic photos. They are threatened with telling parents or putting it on the internet; they are told to give money...the FBI says it is the leading growing problem among kids right now. This is why we included these safety rules.
- If someone tries to show you bad pictures or videos, look away. Remember to turn, run, and tell.
- 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.
- 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.
- Never take pictures or videos of yourself without clothes on. Kids these days are unfortunately producing pornography. They are producing child pornography.
- 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.
Last fall I was invited to testify at a Washington State Senate Law and Justice Committee about the public health threat of pornography. With me was Mike Edwards who is the specialist on internet crimes against children for Washington state. He gave a lot of grim statistics. Then he told a story about a video they have of an 8-year-old boy who made this video of himself having sex with a 4-year-old. He put this video on the internet. Kids are doing this and it's in greater and greater numbers. If we don't want our kids to fall victim, we need to teach them.
Anne: Like I said before, I use this in my home and it is so helpful. For my listeners, Christmas is coming up and I want to tell you a funny story. The Porn Kills Love t-shirt from Fight the New Drug came out awhile ago. I bought one for my then husband who was "in recovery" and he wore it on Christmas. His family told him I had ruined Christmas!
I would like all of you to go to our books page and purchase the books right now. Begin talking about it with your kids. If you'd like to ruin Christmas, give it to someone for Christmas!!
Kristen: The first year we sold Good Pictures Bad Pictures I thought there would be no sales during Christmas. The absolute opposite happened. Our sales went way up! And then I started hearing how people were buying them as gifts! What better gift than to provide the gift of protection from something so destructive. I think it makes perfect sense.
Anne: So this is my goal: everyone get the books and a Porn Kills Love tshirt and wear it on Christmas! Let's start a revolution! We're going to take back Christmas!
So Kristen, besides your books, what other resources have you created to help parents?
How To Help Protect Children In Your Community From Pornography
Kristen: we have lots on our website protectyoungminds.org. We have three free guides. One is a quick start guide to begin giving people an overall foundation of information. We then have the smart parents’ guide which is for those whose children have already seen pornography or for proactive parents who want to prepare for the eventuality; it helps parents face this without shame and freaking out; it helps them to know what questions to ask their child. It is very helpful in this regard.
Then we have a kit for people who want to take this to their community. We have an outline of a presentation to do your own presentation in your community or school or church. We are trying to help everyone in every situation, all parents who want to help their children. Whenever we do a blog, we usually have some kind of free download, whether it's a series of questions or conversation starters, questions to ask a school administrator or a principle about how safe the school is; what have they done to protect kids from porn exposure; have they trained kids about what to do if they see pornography on the school computer or school grounds?
Anne: So for our listeners who are interested in getting more assistance, we are doing a Protecting and Healing Our Children Webinar on Sept 11. Coach Rae and Lori Rubinstein, a child advocacy expert, will be speaking. Please register! Also, Coach Sara is very good about coaching women about how to talk to their children about their dad's pornography addiction and some of the things that happen around that....such as if police have been involved, criminal action, etc....Coach Sara is really good about helping you navigate helping your children in these situations.
I am so grateful you are here today and that you wrote these books, Kristen. Again, if you are interested in purchasing these books you can buy them on Amazon. They are Good Pictures Bad Pictures and Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. or you can go directly to Protectyoungminds.org to get more infomration. Remember we have this giveaway on Instagram. Go to @betrayalrecovery and tag your friends who have children and we will announce the winners through a private message!
Thanks for being here today, Kristen.
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