“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
- Frederick Douglass
Dads I invite you to please stand up, turn your hats around backwards, and follow me into the battle to keep our young children from Human Trafficking, sexting and watching online pornography.
It will be a little uncomfortable for a moment, but it is important and necessary.
The sexual media that our young people see today is not the Playboy magazine we stole from our dads when we were growing up. This pornography is dangerous to their developing minds, hurts their physical brains, disrupts the mechanisms necessary to develop relationship skills, and takes all the wonder and fun out of exploring this part of their personalities gradually. It rushes them through what should be a fun and exciting time, ripe with its own challenges. Now, with an ocean of explicit adult videos available at the click of a button to act as "guidance" for this part of their lives, our children's sexual instruction comes externally from the family, and on every device they use.
Trying to navigate this sensitive time in their young lives with such a solid and ever-present outside influence is nearly impossible for a child. It's even worse when no one is talking to them about it, and maybe worse yet that their dad, their protector, defender, and guardian, may be silent on the topic. From my experience, if you do not shame your kids during the conversation, they'll talk with you about it. They want to discuss pornography and have you set the rules. It's us, me, you, all the dads, that have pulled back or completely ignored this danger to our children.
Parents constantly tell me how scary it is to talk about this topic with their kids, and that sometimes fear is why they don't talk about it. Grown-ups (especially dads) have a responsibility to protect their children at all costs. We owe them that obligation no matter how difficult or frightening it may be to offer it. If a lion charged our family, we would not stop, wait, or weigh the potential outcomes between teeth VS. claws. We would throw ourselves in between the lion and our children no matter what the cost. "I'm not good at fighting lions" or "I don't have any experience with that" would seem cold comfort as you stood beside your child in a hospital bed without a scratch on you.
We would never send our children hiking in the Mojave Desert to study flora and fauna and forget to mention rattlesnakes, heatstroke, and dehydration. The internet is a wild place, a wilderness full of good and bad, and our kids will find hardcore online pornography by themselves, or together in a youth group, girls scout troop, or middle school class. When they do, the messages that they will internalize at this very young and impressionable time in their lives will hurt them for a very long time; (both boys and girls). Pornography leads to Human Trafficking, IPV, dating violence, and assault. Simply allowing this, which you are by omission, allows significant and negative consequences to enter your child's future life, and maybe only because it's "icky" for you to talk about it. Ugh! Make no mistake, assault, IPV, dating violence Human Trafficking etc. is a man's problem. We need a man solution!
Sometimes we can't see the hurt. It can look like normal "teenage angst" but trust me, the hurt is there. Our children watch more internet porn than the entire country of Canada, or Germany or Japan. (Not the children in those countries, the entire country itself) and we can't see it? I'm fond of saying that if children would just turn green from watching online pornography, the CDC would have helicopters in the air, and this would be a "red-lights-flashing" all hands on deck national emergency! Until then, dads, you, are in the very best place to speak with your kids about avoiding this content. You may be the only ones who can.
If you got home after work, and grabbed a beer from the fridge, sat on your couch in your house and drank a beer, you're not breaking any rules. Your house, your couch, your beer. If your 11 year old came in and grabbed a beer and sat down next to you however, you would have something to say. That does not make you a hypocrite regarding beer. You're the dad, you make the rules. You pay for the fridge and the electricity to keep it running. Well, you bought your child's phone, you pay the Verizon bill, you pay for internet into the house. Same thing here! You wouldn't knowingly let your children absorb an addictive substance like alcohol or cocaine, you would sit down with them, tell them "no" and explain why its harmful / dangerous for them. Well...online pornography fires all the same receptors in their brains as cocaine, heroine and methamphetamines. I honestly wish that weren't true.
The solution however is for all dads to agree together, right now, that it is socially acceptable, encouraged even, to speak with young people about avoiding online pornography. Let's all huddle up, clap our hands, break like we're coming out of a football huddle and just do this! 'Ready? 1…2…3!' BREAK! After that, you talk to your kids, I'll talk to my kids, and we'll all talk together as parents. I know we can do this dads, and we have to! Without our help, participation and active engagement, it's not going to get any better.
If you just cannot have the conversation with your kids however, would you please make an anonymous $5 donation? Your gift will allow The Third Talk™ to send this message out, and to resonate so loudly that many people will hear it; maybe even your little ones. I am asking you to be brave here, dads. I am asking you for your help.
"Let not any one person pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion." John Stuart Mill, 1867
DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services)
Sexual health is a state of well-being in relation to sexuality across the life span that involves physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions. Sexual health is an intrinsic element of human health and is based on a positive, equitable, and respectful approach to sexuality, relationships, and reproduction, that is free of coercion, fear, discrimination, stigma, shame, and violence. It includes: the ability to understand the benefits, risks, and responsibilities of sexual behavior; the prevention and care of disease and other adverse outcomes; and the possibility of fulfilling sexual relationships. Sexual health is impacted by socioeconomic and cultural context—including policies, practices, and services—that support healthy outcomes for individuals, families, and their communities.(https://www.cdc.gov/maso/facm/pdfs/CHACHSPT/20120508_CHAC.pdf)
WHO (World Health Organization)
The correlation between education level and sexual health outcomes has been well documented. One of the most effective ways to improve sexual health in the long-term is a commitment to ensuring that adolescents and young people are sufficiently educated to make healthy decisions about their sexual lives. Accurate, evidencebased, appropriate sexual health information and counselling should be available to all young people, and should be free of discrimination, gender bias and stigma. Such education can be provided via schools, workplaces, health providers and community and religious leaders.(http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/70501/WHO_RHR_HRP_10.22_eng.pdf;jsessionid=3D3A9ADA3ABE88329816097E58CB990E?sequence=1)
CDC (Center for Disease Control)
Though the evidence for SV is still developing and more research is needed, the problem of SV is too large and costly and has too many urgent consequences to wait for perfect answers. There is a compelling need for prevention now and to learn from the efforts that are undertaken. Commitment, cooperation, and leadership from numerous sectors, including public health, education, justice, health care, social services, business/labor, and government can bring about the successful implementation of this package.(https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/SV-Prevention-Technical-Package.pdf)
AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators Counselors Therapists)
Early notions for many of the kids today come through exposure to pornography, which includes dangerous ideas about using women for sexual satisfaction without regard for the needs of the woman. If the kids are to have a knowledge of healthy sexuality," he continues, "these early notions must be eliminated and replaced by ideas of appropriate touch and the joys of such touch, which is healthy sexuality."(https://www.aasect.org/how-we-interpret-and-integrate-principlessexual-health-our-work)