Is Porn Your Kids’ Sex Educator? Don’t Blame Porn

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I hate that your kids are getting their sex education from porn. Most parents hate that, and I’m sure you hate it, too.

And I wish you would do something about it.

I don’t mean that we should get rid of porn. I mean, let’s give kids the sex education they need and deserve. Then they won’t turn to porn for answers. And if they do look at porn, it won’t be their only source of sexual information, values, and ideas.

So if you don’t want porn to be your kids’ primary sex education, start by talking to them about sex. What to talk about? Try some of these ideas:

  • Your body is going to change, and keep changing, for your entire childhood and adolescence. Let’s talk about what you can expect in the next year or two.
  • Your feelings are going to change, too. You’re going to be noticing other kids’ bodies, and maybe want to hug or kiss someone. Maybe you’ll wish you could see someone without their clothes. That isn’t possible right now, but one day it will be. All these feelings are normal.
  • Maybe you already touch yourself for sexual enjoyment; if not, you probably will sooner or later. It’s fine to do that, although only in private. How much is OK? Well, if you’re late for school or other stuff because of it, that’s not OK. And if you get sore where you usually stroke yourself, you’re probably doing it too much.
  • Lesson number one about sex: Sex isn’t so much about what the bodies do; it’s more about how the people feel. If you don’t feel much when you have sex, it’s probably not the right time, or the right person. And if you don’t like how you feel when you have sex, you should stop right away—even if the other person doesn’t want to.
  • I hope you don’t watch porn, because it’s made for adults—like cigars. Whether you do or not, I’ll tell you this: real sex doesn’t feel the way porn sex looks.
  • “Sex” can involve a wide range of activities. But there’s only one way that two people can create a pregnancy—penis-in-vagina intercourse. That makes it the only kind of sex that requires birth control—which you should use every single time you have intercourse and you don’t want to create a pregnancy.

What else can you do to minimize the impact of porn on your kids’ sexual literacy?

SCHOOL

How about asking your kid’s school to provide some decent sex education? I know, school is complicated (and limited) enough with COVID. But school boards are still operating, still making decisions, and still determining what, if anything, the curriculum will say about sex. And sooner or later, COVID won’t be running our lives (or our schools).

At the very least, you want to know what they mandate, and you want to know if it’s required to be “medically accurate” (in half the states it isn’t, and the federal government refuses to pass a law requiring this).

You also want to make sure that your kids’ school isn’t using an abstinence curriculum, which states that sex can only be healthy, safe, and acceptable within marriage. Study after study shows that this curriculum is associated with lower contraceptive use and self-care. If you can’t get something better installed, at least try to get rid of programs that rely on gender stereotypes and misinformation about sexuality.

CHURCH

If you belong to a church, how about requesting that it provide decent sex education for young people? Some denominations have quite progressive program options (for example, the Methodists). Almost every community has social workers or other professionals that a local church can bring in for one or more sessions, or “office hours” for young people. Sex educators at Planned Parenthood can typically be trusted for this.

At the very least, parents should pressure any church to which they belong to stop demonizing sex. For example, the false information that sex outside of marriage is physically or psychologically unhealthy. Or that non-heterosexuals have disordered private lives, or can’t love or parent the way straight people do.

Churches are free to have their values, but let’s stop pretending that prejudices are facts.

ANTI-PORN ACTIVISTS

Finally, anti-porn activists are getting in your way of effectively educating your kids around sexuality. Many of them are simply obsessed with sex. For example, the Parents Television Council is complaining about a “wretched and disgusting” Hasbro doll that “sexualizes children.”

Everything having to do with the sexual questions, concerns, and feelings of young people is labelled pornographic or exploitative by such groups, which include Focus on the Family. Pretending that kids have no questions, or that their questions all have simple, non-sexual answers, teaches parents that ignorance (theirs and their kids’) is best.

It isn’t. But it is what makes kids look to porn for answers.

FINALLY, PORN

So it’s critical to talk with your kids about porn, too. But to be most effective, that shouldn’t be the first conversation about sex that you have with them.

The best conversation about porn would build on your previous parent-child conversations about sex, masturbation, sex, fantasy, sex, and pleasure. Talking about porn without previously talking about those things would certainly be complicated and awkward.

There’s nothing wrong with porn—for adults. Kids should simply not look at it, and we should tell them why: it relies on certain understandings and experiences of sexuality that kids don’t have; it contains images they might find troubling, and won’t be willing to talk about; and it presents unusual bodies doing unrealistic things in fictional situations, some or all of which kids might think depict reality accurately.

While we can’t prevent kids from looking for and finding porn with their phones and devices, we can make them less curious, and therefore less motivated—by providing the information they want and need, even when they don’t ask. And with wisdom from their parents, kids are more likely to ask questions about what they see, giving parents more chances to shape kids’ ideas and decisions.

So parents, if you don’t want porn teaching your kid about sex, you do it. And tell the other institutions around you to help, too.
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If you liked this post, I bet you’ll enjoy my article at www.MartyKlein.com/is-it-ok-to-masturbate-without-porn/

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