Pornography is an open secret that no one likes to talk about. But it is everywhere and affects anyone who has access to a device that can connect to the internet. It can happen at any age, and be anywhere. As I was talking to my friend Jewel about this post, she told me that her first grader was exposed to pornography for the first time at school. On a school computer. That one of his classmates had hacked.
That makes me sick and mad all at the same time.
Sometimes we wonder, but don't have the heart to ask:
Have my young children been exposed to it?
Is my teenager watching it?
Is my spouse watching it?
Hard core or soft core, I am a firm believer that no type pornography has a legitimate place in society. It's often fake, always objectifying, and takes attention away from real relationships, not to mention it also feeds the human trafficking and sex trades. A lot of other people and organizations feel this way, too. One of these, Fight the New Drug is a non-profit that is dedicated to sharing the science of how pornography works in our brains, relationships, and how it affects the world.
Fight the New Drug likes to say that they aren't anti-porn. Instead, they are pro-love. Since porn kills love, they choose to use current scientific studies to illustrate the consequences of pornography use.
But who are these people? Are they religious nuts? Nope. Here's how they got started:
One thing that I really like about Fight the New Drug, is that they are not shame based, nor do they use religious arguments that might not resonate with everyone. Instead, they share peer reviewed scientific studies about the dangers of pornography. Recently, they came to our community and gave a presentation to both parents and teenagers (separately).
I'm not going to lie. I was a little apprehensive, because there are so many ways you can have a conversation with teens about pornography. It could be overly graphic. Overly simplistic. Overly shame based. Overly...whatever. So, being the paranoid mom that I am, I went into the presentation after I dropped off a carload of kids.
All in all, I think they got it just about right! I was impressed. The presenter named Garrett was funny, related well to the kids, was very engaging and clear as he explained to the kids how their brains work, and how the industry is targeting them. He took away the fantasy and talked about the ugly truth behind pornography. As the presentation started, lots of kids were on their phones. Pretty soon, they started being put away.
Garrett was real with the kids as he spoke about his own struggle with pornography, and how he was able to break free from it. Plus, he was "cool", so the kids listened to him. Here is part of his story:
As someone who has had dear family members struggle with trying to stop using pornography, I was grateful with how they handled this sensitive topic, and clarified the difference between a compulsion and an addiction. At the end of the presentation with the teens, Garrett challenged the teens to become both lovers AND fighters, and to fight the new drug by signing a pledge to avoid pornography. Kids flocked to the front of the stage. It was like an old style revival meeting. It was so, so fun to see all of these kids in our community go down to sign the banner, ask Garrett questions, and continue to talk to each other.
My boys even asked me to buy them a "Porn Kills Love" shirt. Isn't that what every parent wants to hear?! I don't normally give in to requests like that, but you can bet I jumped onto the FTND website and bought them one as soon as we got home!
I invite you to learn more about Fight the New Drug. In fact, November is a special month for them. It is #NoPornovember. Look at the research and resources on their website, check out their Facebook page, Instagram feed and their Youtube channel. They have a ton of stuff to check out, including Fortify, a support site for people who are struggling with pornography use. This website is free for teens, but requires payment for adults. It includes a battle tracker, more education, accountability partners, and a helpful forum among other things. You can even invite them to come to your community and give a presentation.
Jewel was one of the organizers who helped bring FTND to our town, and she said that as a result of what both parents and teens experienced, families told the organizers that children opened up to their parents about their struggles, spouses confessed and asked for help, and other really positive conversations began as a result of what people had learned and how their hearts were touched.
Remember- we can't fix this problem unless we understand it and start talking about it.
So, let's be fighters.
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