On our site, we have often discussed the harmful effects of pornography.

We have also talked about the danger of child pornography and the
not-so-far-fetched possibility that photos of our children we post on
social networks are used and spread in “indecent” ways.

It’s time to address yet another issue: children being exposed to sexually
explicit content on YouTube, t.v., and internet chatrooms.

How likely is it that our children risk running into pornographic images
that they are incapable of processing? How real is this problem, and how
likely is it that our own children may encounter it?

Recently, a woman told me about an issue that arose in her daughter’s
class. A child – around the 10-11 year old age group – began looking at
pornographic images on his cell phone. He then started to behave
inappropriately with his classmates. He would vulgarly name-call others,
would invite them to go to the bathroom with him, and would even physically
harass them.

The situation became so problematic that it became the subject of class
council discussions.

The girls were upset and scared, and his male classmates were dragged into

And most surprising aspect of the whole thing is that the boy “came from a
good family,” hadn’t had any apparent issues with his parents, and the
parents themselves were well-mannered. In fact, the boy’s mother was a
well-respected high school teacher.

Another parent of a twelve-year-old girl in another class told me that an
argument amongst the parents eventually broke out after a link had been
shared in the private chat room of their children’s class, which would have
allowed pedophiles to contact them.

Parents were blaming each other and others’ children for the incident. They
all wanted to be able to place blame on the “guilty” one.

These are just two concrete examples which I have heard with my own ears
that occurred just 10km from my home.

The truth is that in a hyper-technological era like ours, the risk of
children encountering stimuli that are not appropriate for their age or
naively falling into traps is highly likely. And, living in a
hyper-sexualized society, they are much more likely to view this sort of
material simply because they are intrigued.

A study about the internet that analyzes children’s and teens’ online
behavior reveals that two of the terms they search the most are “sex” and

Cybersecurity company Symantec – by analyzing 3.5 million searches through
its OnlineFamily.Norton family safety service, which monitors children and
teens’ use of the internet – identified the 100 most frequently conducted
searches between February and July. Among the top ten, the words “sex” and
“porn” popped up in fourth and eighth place respectively.

What do these figures tell us?

Two years ago, I went to a facility that offers treatment

for various types of addictions to interview two therapists about sex

Among the things they mentioned was the hyper-sexualization of society and
the lack of parental guidance while kids are learning about their bodies.

One of the doctors told me, “Kids have questions, and that’s normal. They
want to discover their bodies – their affectivity. The questioning isn’t
the problem, nor is the fact that they seek answers. The problem is where
they go to look for them. They can find anything on the internet, while
most of the content doesn’t answer the “why” or “how.” These materials only
cause overexcitement that they then can’t handle. Why, though, do they go
online to search for answers to their questions? Because they miss a calm,
open dialogue at home on these topics. Sex is often seen as taboo, and
parents are embarrassed by it. So, a child doesn’t feel he can talk about
it with them and goes to look for answers to his questions online or with
his peers.”

In short, the internet “replaces” us as guides or adults who children feel
they can go to. This happens so often, even though we almost hardly ever
realize it (research reveals that 95% of parents have no idea that their
child is using sexually explicit content in some way).

We will try later to offer practical advice on how to prevent our children
from ending up in virtual realms that are not age appropriate or right for
their developmental level.

For now, let’s just reflect together on this: it’s important that we take
responsibility for our children’s emotional development. If we leave them
to their own devices, we aren’t “letting them off the hook” – rather, we
are actually guilty of leaving a void.


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