When it comes to practicing the virtue of chastity, a great challenge the culture presents to families is the accessibility and acceptance of pornography. While one may think that pornography, defined as the depiction of erotic images intended to cause sexual excitement, can only be found on password protected corners of the internet, the reality is that there are a plethora of books, magazines, websites, and apps that contain pornographic content. 90% of children ages 8-16 have seen pornography on the internet, with the average age of initial exposure being 11 years old.
With the many challenges parents face, it can be tempting to think of pornography as the least of one’s worries; not having the same consequences as other risk-taking behaviors that teens may be tempted to engage in. However, studies have shown that “a modest to strong correlation exists between exposure to pornography and unhealthy sexual attitudes” (www.theporntalk.com).
For more details on the impact of pornography on youth and teens, visit: http://www.theporntalk.com/critical/impact.asp.
Or, for a quick explanation via video, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNDhny4y-4Q&feature=related
The Catholic Church teaches that “Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2354).
Consider that this is not just a “guy issue”. Pornography affects women as well. Adolescent girls can become addicted to pornography, or fall prey to providing images through sexting or the internet while seeking attention and acceptance. Also, while young men will be drawn to images, young ladies may be drawn to romance novels and fiction marketed to teens that contain graphic descriptions of sexual encounters which grossly misinforms their understanding of sexuality.
We have to consider that we are all children of God. Is this how we are called to treat his children? Consider this: http://www.whodoesithurt.com/multimedia/videos/142-lifeteen-innocence-video
How can families protect themselves?
- Get rid of it! Throw out pornographic media. Monitor what enters your house through the advertisements and periodicals you receive (Victoria’s Secret catalogues, Sports Illustrated special issues, etc.).
- Take advantage of sites that screen movies for objectionable content. (http://old.usccb.org/movies/movieall.shtml)
http://www.pluggedin.com/ (this one also has free mobile app for getting quick information on the go). Honestly examine the contents of your shelves for magazines, movies and novels that could contain material that would harm your child if exposed. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Talk about it! Use your “bridge of communication” (learned in Family Honor’s Real Love & Real Life program) to talk to children about pornography. It can be intimidating, but you are the greatest influence in the life of your child, and they care what you think. Studies show that the average age children encounter pornography is 11, so it is important to begin talking about the goodness of the human person and God’s plan for love, sex, and marriage before this crucial time in their lives. For conversation starters, visit http://www.theporntalk.com/porntalk/starters.asp
- Be tech savvy! Be aware of how your children are accessing the internet and what they are accessing. Keep computers and televisions in common areas and monitor the contents of cell phones, iPods, iPads and tablets, e-readers and other electronic devices. Check out http://www.theporntalk.com/critical/how.asp for a list of ways kids access porn – some may surprise you.
- Consider using a filter on your devices (they can be used on mobile phones as well as computers), but beware that these are not foolproof:
- Accountability software that works on the PC, Mac, iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, and Android devices http://www.x3watch.com
- Filtering and accountability software for the Mac and PC http://www.bsecure.com
- Filtering and accountability software for the Mac, PC and iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad http://ww2.safeyes.com
- Accountability and filtering software for Mac, PC and iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad devices http://www.covenanteyes.com
- Sacraments! We need God’s grace to resist temptation and increase virtue in our lives. Frequenting the Sacrament of Confession makes God’s forgiveness a reality in our lives and gives us the grace to avoid sin in the future. Receiving the Eucharist at Mass every Sunday—and other days if we can—nourishes us with Christ’s body and blood. The temptations the world offers can seem overwhelming, but be confident that Christ gives us all the tools we need to avoid sin and resist temptation in our journey to heaven.
Warning: These sites are resources for parents. As with any topic, but especially pornography, please monitor your child’s use of the internet.
For more resources on-line visit:
www.chastity.com: an outreach of Catholic Answers by Jason Evert.
www.theporneffect.com: a Catholic site dealing with issues related to pornography.
www.theporntalk.com: a non-religious site that empowers parents with information and conversation starters to strengthen their relationship with their children.
www.xxxchurch.com: a Christian website that deals with sexual addictions.