Battling Porn: How Parents Can Protect Kids From Harm – Hope 103.2

Battling Porn:
How Parents Can Protect Kids From Harm

By Clare BruceThursday 11 Feb 2016Hope Mornings

Listen: Collett Smart talks to Emma about steps parents can take to protect kids from porn

After a trip to Africa, adolescent psychologist Collett Smart is more passionate than ever about the need for parents to protect their kids – and teens – from pornography.

While travelling and speaking, she learnt that hardcore pornography has no geographical limits—even in fragile, developing nations.

Anywhere there’s phone reception, there too is access to graphic, damaging pornography.

“Hardcore pornography is available to anyone with a smartphone [including] children right in rural Africa,” Collett told Hope 103.2’s Emma Mullings.

“I’m extremely passionate about this topic because it’s something that I’m seeing affect young people all around the world now.

“People don’t realise out in the bush, in Africa, children there have access to smartphones. There are satellite dishes on shacks. Children don’t have shoes, but they have access to the internet.”

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“Pornography Is Now The Number One Sex Educator”

Boy on laptop looking sneaky

Collett said that parents are naiive to assume their children won’t view porn.

She said boys now start seeing pornography at an average age of 11, and that close to 100 percent of boys have seen violent pornography by age 15.

“And we’re starting to see more and more of the issue with girls,” she said. “For a long time we have assumed that girls aren’t exposed, but they are. Pornography is now the number one sex educator.

“Young boys are learning about sexual experience before they have even had a girlfriend. It’s extremely worrying.”

“Parents who are tempted to brush off the risks…are either wilfully ignorant or wilfully stupid.” ~ The UK’s Chief Superintendent Of Police

Collett agrees with comments the UK Chief Superintendent of Police, John Sutherland, who has written on his blog about the ‘catastrophic’ effects of pornography that he’s seeing in his policing role.

Chief Supt Sutherland told the Daily Mail that “parents who are tempted to brush off the risks of allowing boys unrestricted access to hardcore footage, are either wilfully ignorant or wilfully stupid.”

Is It Really That Bad? Research Says ‘Yes’

Proponents of the view that pornography “isn’t that bad”, are ignoring the abundant scientific evidence that it’s destructive, according to Collett.

“Adolescent boys who are viewing porn, are six times more likely to think it’s okay to be sexually aggressive,” she said, “and six times more likely to hold someone down while having sex with them. It’s not just an emotional issue, we see brain changes.”

She cited the work of psychiatrist, Norman Dioge, who has found that pornography acts in a similar way to addictive substances like alcohol and drugs.

“We see porn triggering releases in the brain – chemicals like dopamine – that have the same high that comes from achieving something. So as this desire in boys naturally begins to increase, the brain becomes warped about what’s real.

“It’s hugely problematic to the teen’s developing brain, which is very elastic.”

Christian Families And Churches Aren’t Immune

Teen girl using smartphone in bedroom

As a Christian, Collett is also aware that the problem is just as much of a concern within church circles as in the non-Christian world.

“I think we are naiive if we think it’s not in the church,” she said.

One survey in the USA stated that 68% of Christian men watched pornography regularly, while another study by Barna research showed that 50% of pastors have struggled with porn use, either currently or in the past. The research also showed that 11- to 17-year-old boys in the church were the greatest users.

“It said that the church is having its greatest sexual battle of all time, because when these boys become adults, the church is going to be flooded with porn addicts,” Collett said.

What Can Parents Do?

Monitoring children’s use of technology is absolutely essential in Collett’s view.

Being a parent of teens, and a counsellor of parents and teenagers, she speaks from not just theory but experience.

“All technology needs to be out of bedrooms. It’s just the number one rule we have to have as parents.”

She quoted Dr Michael Carr Grieg who has said, “parents are asleep at the wheel”.

“That is such a true quote,” she said. “We forgot that smartphones are computers, and so all technology needs to be out of bedrooms. It’s just the number one rule we have to have as parents and we’ve got slack with that.

“Out of bedrooms, particularly at night. On charge, in public spaces.

Talk To Your Kids About Their Internet Use – Regularly

Girl in pajamas on couch with laptop

Most parents think nothing of teaching their children to drive, swim, cook, or use the washing machine. Collett believes teaching them how to use the internet is just as important, and that it shouldn’t be left to kids to find their own way.

“When your children are young, teach them,” she said. “I’ve got a child who is just about to turn 13, and for about two months, we’ve been doing intensive social media teaching on social media sites. Because I can’t expect my child to suddenly grow up and have a social media account and know what to do naturally.”

If you don’t know about it, learn with your child and talk.

“We can’t just have one conversation about porn,” she said.

“Mums, even single mums, you have such a fantastic role in teaching your sons about respecting women, and that women are more than bodies, and that pornography is unnatural and not a normal sexual relationship.

“We’ve got to keep up these conversations with our children—because if we are not talking to them, the internet is.”

Expert Talks For Parents And Teachers

Collett Smart runs seminars for teachers and parents at schools, on how to talk to their kids about the issues around pornography.

She spoke this week at a Symposium on the topic at the University of NSW, with a talk titled ‘Help, Hope & Healing’.

More info on the topic is available at pornharmskids.org.au.

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