Did you know that showing pornography to a child is a form of sexual abuse?

It’s a common myth that child sexual abuse always includes physical contact. There are three types of perpetrators of child sexual abuse: grabbers, granters, and groomers. Groomers, especially, may start by showing pornography to a child before they move on to physically touching a child.

This is one way that they manipulate and blackmail a child. They show sexually explicit images and then make the child feel guilty for having looked at them. They use it as leverage, holding it over the child’s head so they won’t tell anyone what’s happening.

The Effects of Pornography

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions.”

Exposure to pornography in and of itself can have negative effects on a child, according to a study done in 2009 by Dr. Michael Flood, a sociologist who specializes in gender and sexuality studies. It can lead to children mimicking what they see or thinking that what they’ve seen is normal sexual behavior. Generally, pornography doesn’t depict loving, healthy, communicative relationships. If a child sees these at a young age, it may negatively change the way they view sex, love, and relationships.

Even if no adult shows a child pornography, a child may stumble upon it on their own. According to Covenant Eyes 2015 annual report, 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18. It’s important, as parents and caregivers, to discuss healthy sexuality with children and let them know that pornography, should they see it, is something they should talk to you about. Situations like that can lead to great teaching opportunities as long as you stay open to them and open to talking to your child about them when they come along.

Have a Conversation About Pornography

Don’t allow your child’s view of sex to be hijacked by pornography. Talk openly and often about healthy sexuality. There are appropriate conversations you can have at any age. Check in with them frequently to make sure that you know what they’ve been exposed to, when, and by whom—allowing you to identify potential groomers. Let them know that they can come to you with questions or concerns. Become a safe space for your child so that if they are exposed to pornography, especially by an adult, they know they can talk to you about it.

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