Executive summary:

  • Children are exposed to shame-inspiring experiences about sex and sexuality at very early ages
  • Shame emotion associated with sexual exploitation, whether witnessing or experiencing it, kills open communication essential to think correctly about it and/or get help
  • Pedophiles and sextortion perpetrators are counting on shame emotion to drive complicity with their exploitation and extortion motives
  • Learning how to think about their sexuality as personal power that can easily be used against them is an essential skill for tech-savvy youth
  • Tips for parents to model behavior and have conversations about sex and sexuality that are edifying and improve the chances of communication when your child experiences an assault in word, image or deed

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Father_Daughter_TensionIt has always been true that by the time a parent decides to have a conversation about sex and sexuality with their child, it is too late. And by “too late”, I mean more than likely the world has already educated them. It could be from a neighbor, a trusted caregiver, a peer, an older sibling.

Indeed our worst fear is that our child would be educated about sex by people and circumstances that cause harm to our child’s sense of personal security and dignity. Mostly, we fear stranger pedophiles.

However, I encourage parents and guardians to consider that the sexual assaults we fear will attack the souls of our children are happening in plain sight and in everyday life. For example, when I was seven years old a neighbor child who was a few years older than me brought out a Polaroid photo of his mother he found while snooping in her underwear drawer to show the neighbor kids. The photo displayed all of her feminine glory on her bed with a look on her face that I could not begin to describe or understand. I just knew that it was wrong to see that image because I just knew it was an unspeakable violation. There was a deep pain I felt for the relationship between a mother and son who was showing off his mother in a private moment with his dad.

My point in telling you this story is that the sexual assaults on our children happen early and so it is important that we are prepared to have conversations about sex and sexuality in age-appropriate ways. I mean, what possessed the neighbor child to share that photo? I do not believe he knew the harm he was doing. And while I was deeply disturbed by that incident I did not run home and talk about it with my mom or dad. The shame emotion was so strong, I just wanted to hide that image and incident.

Parents need to understand that children will instinctively hide experiences that inspire shame. This is a major feature of the human condition. The pedophiles and sextortion perpetrators are counting on it.

Tips for parents to deal  sexting and internet porn:

  • Model the behavior in your relationship with your spouse that you want for your child. Wives, be the example of the type of woman you hope your sons will marry; and husbands, be the example of the type of man you hope your daughter will attract.
  • Refrain from using sexually degrading language (such as the “f” word, and other terms that do not reflect the dignity of our humanity)
  • Explain to your child the ways in which their sexuality may be used against them which include: other people convincing them that the only way to be accepted is to send sexually explicit images or engage in acts that are harmful to their sense of well-being. (See the workshop below which teaches parents how to educate tech-savvy youth so they can be resilient to internet porn and sexting.)
  • Encourage your child to seek you out for your insights about sex as they encounter ideas, images and experiences on or off line. Explain that you have more years of experience on earth, and so it is a good idea to compare notes.
  • When your child brings up a topic, ask them what they know about it and what do they want to know? When you let your child lead you in this conversation, you will be able to meet him or her where they are at and avoid introducing too much additional information before they are ready, or saying too little and leaving them still wondering and lacking confidence in your wisdom.
  • Conduct random checks on your child’s phone. Look for apps that appear to be functional, like a calculator, and ask your child to show you how they use it. That way you will be in a position to discover if there are any secrets about sexting and/or internet porn that can be addressed.
  • Chances are good that your child will become involved in sexting. By involved, I mean they will have received an explicit image from a peer; they will be solicited for an explicit image by a peer or a bad actor, If you discover this, do not freak out. Get your child to tell you what happened and then get counseling or notify law enforcement as necessary. Mostly, your child needs to know that you will help them to get out of the snare and think correctly so they can have a healthy attitude about themselves, their sexuality and their future.

Parents, educators and health care providers: Join me for an informative and insightful workshop on preparing tech-savvy youth to respond to internet porn and sexting in healthy ways: September 5, 2018, 6:30 to 9PM at Sierra College Roseville Campus. 

(BMB-0430)

About:  We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your donations are greatly appreciated. (Donations are payable to Banana Moments Foundation).

Jullien_Joanna_Portrait

Joanna Jullien, Founder & CEO of Core Connectivity
Photo by: Victoria Hatch

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.