How To Protect Children From Harmful Pornography Exposure
Many of our husbands became addicted to pornography at a young age, some as young as eight. With so many children having their own devices or easy access to the internet, they are being exposed as young as four. Exposure is more likely to happen when their father is a pornography addict.
Resources Can Help In The Fight Against Harmful Pornography Exposure
Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, talks to Kristen Jenson, author of the #1 Bestselling books, Good Pictures Bad Pictures, and Good Pictures Bad Picture, Jr, and founder of Protect Young Minds, about the best ways to prepare our children to respond to exposure.
Protecting children became Kristen’s mission, after she received a late-night phone call from a traumatized mother who was dealing with the tragic consequences of her porn-addicted son.
Since then, Kristen has become a frequent speaker, and guest, on podcasts and radio broadcasts. She's a member of the Prevention Task Force of the National Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation. She actively blogs at ProtectYoungMinds.org, where she helps parents empower their kids to reject pornography.
Why Protect Children From Harmful Pornography Exposure?
After hearing tragic stories of kids getting exposed and addicted to pornography, Kristen wrote “Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids,” to fill a much-needed resource gap.
“It all started when I received a late-night phone call from a traumatized mother who told me about her 17-year-old son. He had been sexually molesting his younger siblings—imitating the pornography he’d been viewing from the time he was in elementary school.
“The next morning, I searched for a children’s book to explain the dangers of pornography addiction and provide an action plan for how to keep kids safe online.”
Good Resources Can Protect Children From Pornography Exposure
Unable to find any resources on protecting children from exposure, Kristen teamed up with Dr. Gail Poyner, and spent the next three years writing the Amazon’s #1 best-selling book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.
“We wrote Good Pictures Bad Pictures to fill this much-needed resource gap.”
Kristen talks about the five things that her books provide.
5 Ways Good Pictures Bad Pictures Helps Children
- It defines pornography. Providing a simple definition can help even the youngest child recognize it and name it.
- It provides a plan. Children will be exposed to pornography. Help them develop a plan for when they are. See the CANDO plan below.
- It empowers them. “It gives children the power over porn by teaching them how their brains react to it. Kids learn about their thinking brain and their feeling brain. They learn to keep their thinking brain in charge so that pornography can’t hijack their feeling brain.”
- It protects from addictions, of all kinds. “Although we are focusing on pornography, the addiction process is very similar, no matter if you have a behavioral addiction like pornography or gambling or video games or a substance addiction. It’s important for children to understand about all addictions and how they can avoid them.”
- It unites the family in the fight against pornography. “It unifies the family to fight the dangers of pornography together by getting it out in the open. This is a common danger for all of us. We need to fight this together.”
Having A Plan Keeps Your Kids Safe From Harmful Exposure
Just like teaching them an escape plan in case of fire, teaching your children a plan for when they do see pornography, empowers them. It gives them a script for what to do when that happens.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures teaches children the CANDO plan:
- C- Close my eyes immediately
- A- Always tell a trusted adult
- N- Name it when I see it
- D- Distract myself
- O- Order my thinking brain to be the boss!
Protect Young Minds provides free posters to help your children learn the plan. You can find those here, along with other free resources for protecting your children. You can also Text: CanDoPlan to 44222 to get a FREE Poster To Help Children When They Are Exposed To Pornography. Reply with your email and a pdf will be sent to you.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures, Jr. provides an even simpler plan for your younger children. You can find that book under Resources and Books: Protecting My Children.
We don’t need to fight this battle against pornography alone. Unlike when Kristen first developed the idea for her book, there are now many resources for talking to our children about the dangers of pornography. If you would like personal help, try an Individual Session on Protecting My Children.
Anne: Why did you start Protect Young Minds?
Kristen: I started Protect Young Minds to begin educating parents about the risks of their young children seeing pornography. Many parents are not aware of how young children are when they begin seeing it and how accessible it has become. Also, I was writing my best-selling book Good Pictures Bad Pictures.
I have a friend who called me one night and started pouring out her heart. Her 17-year-old son was molesting his siblings and was involved in pornography. When she called me and told me this sad, tragic story, because, not only did he have to leave the family and go into a program and be prosecuted, the younger children had to go into counseling—and I realized what a huge trauma this was.
When it got out to their friends, the kids became more isolated because no one wanted their kids to play with them. When I woke up the next morning, after hearing her story, I realized there needed to be a resource to help parents teach their young children about this danger, so I went on line and did searches. I could not find anything.
I began doing research and felt compelled to write this book. I thought, “Even if it’s for my own future grandchildren, there needs to be a resource out there.”
Happily, it became a number one best-seller on Amazon and it’s growing and growing and getting out there! We are very happy that it is helping so many families.
Anne: It’s on our bookshelf and sometimes we pull it out and talk about it. My son talks about his frontal lobe and, if he’s throwing a fit, I’ll tell him his frontal lobe isn’t working. He’ll say, “Let me reattach it!” Is your book for kids or parents?
Kristen: Both! I have parents tell me all the time that they learn as much from it as their kids are because what we are trying to do is start a conversation. It’s a read-aloud book that gives parents a script.
You and I inherited scripts from our parents to deal with certain problems. When I was a child and I got bullied or teased, my mother had a script, that she got from her mother. She told me, “Kill them with kindness. Don’t let them see this bother you.” This is a script that she learned from her mother.
We don’t have any scripts about the reality of internet pornography. Parents don’t have a script for dealing with this problem. I thought, “I will write a script.” It took us 3 years. It models a proactive approach so that parents get in there and begin the conversation, hopefully before their children are exposed or soon after so that they know how to process it and respond.
Kristen: The first year we sold the book I thought our sales would plummet in December because who wants to think about this during the holiday? Actually, they went up a little because people were giving this as a gift.
I’ve heard from so many that they give this as a gift. I want to tell you a few of the things we do in the book for parents. There are five things:
First, it defines what pornography is. If a child has a simple definition, they can recognize it and have a vocabulary to tell about it.
Second, it gives kids a plan for when they see it. We have the CANDO plan. It includes closing their eyes, telling a trusted adult or parent about the exposure, naming it when they see it so they label it and recognize it. How to deal with the memories. Pornography creates shocking memories. Many of us can still remember when we were first exposed and can call up the memory if we want.
Third, it gives children the power over porn by teaching them how their brains react to it. You were telling me about your son and his frontal lobe. Kids learn about their thinking brain and their feeling brain. They learn to keep their thinking brain in charge so that pornography can’t hijack their feeling brain.
Fourth, it protects kids from addictions of all kinds. Although we are focusing on pornography, the addiction process is very similar, no matter if you have a behavioral addiction like pornography or gambling or video games or a substance addiction. It’s really important for children to understand about all addictions and how they can avoid them.
Fifth, which may be the most important. It unifies the family to fight the dangers of pornography together by getting it out in the open. This is a common danger for all of us. We need to fight this together.
You aren’t going to be alone. Kids whose parents aren’t talking about this are fighting this alone, whether or not the parents know it. These kids are fighting alone, and many are losing the battle. Let’s pull together and help our kids and, hopefully, Good Pictures Bad Pictures will help parents to begin this conversation and empower their kids with the skills to fight the effects of pornography.
Anne: Absolutely. If we want to protect our kids, the number one thing we can do is be in recovery ourselves. If we need to be in recovery, we are attending our meetings and we are becoming healthy. For me, this is a process and I am still in the process and I am on the path but it is a process.
The second thing is to be able to talk about anything. Your book helped me to have a script to talk to my kids. One day we were watching some simple show on Netflix and my son said, “There isn’t any pornography in this show!” I said, “Nope. There’s not. It’s a great show!” This is something he could say, and we could talk about.
Kristen: If you can talk to a 4-, 5-, or 6-year-old about pornography, when they are 13 it’s not going to be awkward. If you wait until they are 13, it is going to be more awkward.
We’ve been asked to write a junior version. Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today’s Kids is geared towards kids ages 7-11. Although there are many parents who have read it to their young children, many parents have asked for something simpler because every 3-year-old is on the iPad. We’re coming out with this in February 2017, Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds. It’s a picture book, all good pictures, a simplified version of our original book.
Anne: If you’d like to read more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures, you can visit Kristen’s site protectyoungminds.org.
If you'd like to purchase Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, visit our supply page: btr.org/supplies
Kristen, thank you so much for being on our show today!
Kristen: It was wonderful talking to you Anne. I’m so glad for people like you who are getting out there to help others with this problem, helping women to recover from betrayal trauma, and then in turn helping their children get healthy. It’s a challenge in today’s environment. There are a whole lot of problems because of pornography, as you know.
Anne: Yes. My family was destroyed because of pornography. It’s a mess. Many women, all over the world, and our children and the addicts themselves are dealing with the effects of it constantly in our daily lives. We have true heroes who are healing from the trauma and setting good boundaries to keep themselves and their children safe from the behaviors of active addicts and learning to heal.
Kristen, you are a true hero! Keep coming back. It works when I work it.
We LOVE the book Good Pictures Bad Pictures. The giveaway is over! Thank you to all who participated. Our winners were announced on Instagram! Thank you so much for helping us get the word out about this amazing resource and helping women in pain find hope with Betrayal Trauma Recovery!