|Heard of Google glass? The implications are really scary... And no one looks this cool wearing them.|
Before I do, please know that I am not endorsing that all children be exposed to sex ed for the first time by just any teacher or speaker. I strongly believe that it's a parent's duty to first and foremost discuss these things with their children before they hear it elsewhere. Otherwise, after the speaker, a child might turn to their buddies who are just as curious, hormone-driven, and ignorant of the subject as he is. Unfortunately, a lot of parents either don't step up to the plate or honestly don't know when to. I also know there are many situations where a student would need to tell an adult outside the home because it's a dangerous or non-receptive situation at home, and I am thankful there are trustworthy adults (like many of my Christian friends who teach abstinence education in schools) that can come alongside them and direct them to help.
The author of the blog post I'm mentioning, said that when she agrees to speak to children and teens she is assuming the leadership who have hired her have communicated what she will be speaking about to parents so they can make an informed decision about whether or not they want their children to participate. Sex ed programs in the schools are also supposed to follow a curriculum and parents are made aware of what will be taught. Parents can choose to take their children out if they feel it is necessary. Parents have choices (To that end, I recommend this article about how one pastor has outlined his practical plan for keeping his household a porn-free family).
Anyway, here's the gist of the post:
- The Christian author, Anne Marie Miller, is a recovering pornography addict. She was molested by someone in her church which led to her medicating herself by pornography. Once she broke the cycle through a friend opening up to her about her struggles, she dedicated herself to speaking to teens about sexual brokenness.
- Kids are hesitant to talk to their parents about sexual issues. They may talk to their peers about it, but regardless of whether they do or do not talk to other students they are going to turn to Google. Google will not judge them for asking questions. The problem is (especially with Google Image search) that they will get a lot more than they bargained for -- EXTREMELY GRAPHIC pictures that will continue to haunt them and push their curiosity further. This is how many students are finding the gateway into pornography. Keep in mind, they AREN'T TELLING ANYONE. They are divulging these issues to Anne Marie after dealing with years of shame and guilt.
|Couldn't have found a better picture to illustrate my point. |
I think the image and lower righthand button speak for themselves.
Here are some things that I started thinking about after I read this article:
1. How many times as a teacher did I have students Google search things for a project (in class or out)? If I were teaching now, I would completely rethink my projects and give serious warnings to parents and students. Teachers, imagine if a student were caught looking at something pornographic and then blamed it on his/her class project or an "encounter" with their teacher. If you're a teacher, you know that's not a unheard of scenario; teachers have been fired over lesser things. I could easily see a case of he said/she said (whether or not the allegations were entirely false) and the media blowing it out of proportion because of teachers who really have preyed on students. PLEASE be careful, teachers and parents. Talk to your children before they are old enough to start searching for things on the internet!
2. I can remember a time when dial up internet was the only thing available, but as internet speeds got faster everyone talked about filters for the computer to keep their kids safe from explicit material. Those were the days when families only used desktops or laptops and it seemed like a good thing to hedge your bets on. Guess what? Our kids have iPhones now. They aren't in a place where you can monitor their online behavior quite so thoroughly or so often. The amount of material (texts, pictures, websites, etc.) they can store on their phones now was inconceivable 20 years ago. Camera phones are why now have the word "sexting" as a part of the sex ed vocabulary and why personal liability issues are on the rise. I think having a frank, but loving discussion about phone usage should happen from the first day it goes in their hands.
3. I can speak from experience in blogging that Google Image Search can be very dangerous. I have tried to find innocent pictures for this blog and my company's insurance blog and have been absolutely horrified at what I have accidentally drudged up. If you can't look up a cartoon about root canal procedures without getting something disturbing, consider what else would your children be able to find? For some people, it's easy to click off the page, grumble about perversion, and move on. Children don't know how to process that information. They can't "un-see" things. We need to be vigilant, build trust with our children, and stay ahead of destructive trends to protect them.
4. Keep an open relationship with your children. Let them know early on, and as often as appropriate, if they hear about anything or they see anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or a sense of shame they need to talk to you. Let them know that you love them unconditionally as Christ has loved us and that there is nothing they could do to take that away. Fathers, I am going to especially challenge you to talk to your sons. Don't find out your son has been hooked on pornography only when you catch him. Be proactive and be honest about the temptations they will face. I know this will look differently for every family, but it needs to be happening.
5. I realize a lot of this post is about being proactive -- stopping things before they start -- but if your child does confess something they struggle with or a sin they have committed, you may be extremely frustrated or disappointed, but please show them grace and forgiveness. Nothing drives a child further away than when they are shamed by ones they love and trust. Forgiveness does not take the consequence of the action away, but knowing they are loved as Christ loved us is a powerful thing for someone to experience.
I'll end with Anne Marie's last lines:
"Do the right thing, the hard thing, for the sake of your children. If we don’t do this now, I am terrified of how the enemy will continue stealing hope and joy from our youngest generation and how they’ll be paralyzed to advance the Kingdom of God as they mature."