A mother came to us a few weeks ago. She was in tears. She said, "I walked into my son's room this week and found him looking at pornography on the computer. He's only in 5th grade. He told me he's been looking at pornography for months now. I never thought this would happen. What should I do?"
Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened to children in our ministry. We are currently helping two families who are going through this. And let's face the truth. Those two families probably represent dozens of other kids who are trapped in pornography as well but have been able to keep it a secret so far.
Chance are there are kids in your ministry entrapped by pornography as well. Recent research says the average age a child is exposed to pornography is age 8. It's not hard for a child to fall into the trap. Children live in a culture where pornography abounds. It's just a click away on smart phones, tablets, computers and television.
As a children's ministry leader, how can you help a child who has viewed pornography? How can you come alongside the child's parents to provide support and encouragement? What help can you offer the family to help repair the damage that has been done? Here are some key steps you can take.
Sit down and talk with the parents. Encourage them to do the following.
- Avoid an angry interrogation. This can cause the child to shut down. Parents should act rather than re-act.
- Find out how the child found the pornography. Did another child introduce him or her to it? In the case of the child I mentioned above, a friend at school had told the child how to find pornography on the internet. Was it through a spam email? Was it through a google search? Was it a pop-up ad?
- Find out how much the child was exposed to. Was it limited to body parts or did it include sex acts? Was violence involved? Was it heterosexual or homosexual?
- Find out how long it has been going on. Was it one time? How much exposure has there been?
- Once a child is exposed to pornography, it is critical that comprehensive sex education is initiated if it has not already began. The child must learn what and how to think about sexuality.
- Parents will want to communicate the core values of sexuality. The goal is to help the child gain a healthy view of sex. It is a good thing that was created by God. But like all things, the devil takes what God created for good and tries to twist and pervert it. God's plan for sex is to be an act of love between a husband and a wife. It is reserved for marriage. When we follow God's plan, it results in joy rather than guilt and blessings rather than heartache. Giving a child the correct view of sexuality will help them understand that pornography and immorality is a counterfeit.
- Parents should help the child understand that first and foremost they are looking out for their well-being.
- An internet filter should be immediately put in place.
- Passwords should be placed on the TV that prevents viewing questionable material.
- Computers should be moved to the family room where others can easily view the screen. Kids should not be allowed to have computers or online access in their rooms.
- Limit the amount of time kids are on the internet.
Help the parents as well. Sometimes when a child is exposed to pornography it triggers a parent's unresolved issues. It could bring to the surface sexual abuse the parent experienced as a child or it might remind a father about his own struggles with pornography or other sexual sins he has been involved in. This can make their child's exposure to pornography even more painful for the parent. In cases like this, point the family to a qualified therapist.
Due to the advancement of technology, today's kids are facing temptation and traps that previous generations did not. We must be prepared and equipped to help them not only avoid these traps but also recover when they fall into them.