I received a tough email from a ministry friend this week. It said, "I found out Sunday night that an 11 year old girl from my children's church is addicted to porn. I am totally shocked because she seemed so quiet and shy, I would like to know how to approach her and minister to her."
Unfortunately, this is a situation that happens more often than we would like to admit. With the literal explosion of technology (including hand-held mobile devices) in the world of kids in the last five years, children are being exposed (sometimes even accidentally through pop-ups and spam links) to pornography at a very young age.
As Kids Ministry Leaders, it is our responsibility to help parents be prepared for the most likely inevitable moment when their child is exposed to pornography. It can be devastating to both child and parent. Some things to keep in mind:
1) DON'T overreact!
Don't scream and yell at your child. They are living in a hyper-sexualized world! They are being fed a lie every day by society that sex is supposed to be dirty, twisted, and prevalent in their lives. Is it any wonder that they are drawn to this? Rather than overreact, have the conversation with them. Ask questions like "Why do you think your parents don't want
you to view that sort of stuff?" "What kind of damage do you think it can do to your mind and your heart?" "Do you think viewing that sort of stuff is pleasing to God or part of His plan for your life?". By freaking out, you will cause your child to shut down rather than open up.
2) Talk about GOD'S design for sex
Sexual urges are not abnormal. Kids are not "weird" because they were lured into pornography. God created us as sexual beings. It wasn't some sort of accident. He has a plan for us to enjoy sex in the context of marriage. He wants us to be wise about our own sexuality and control those urges just as we do other urges (hunger, anger, passion, etc.). With God's help, we can grow to become strong men and women who enjoy healthy sexuality as married couples.
3) Set firm boundaries/systems to prevent recurrence of the issue.
Make it a conversation. Ask the child, "What are some things we can do to keep this from happening again?" Perhaps limiting the hours and/or locations of internet usage is a start. There are also some filtering/accountability software options for parents out there:
4) Provide hope for the child.
Remind the child that God's grace is big enough to cover this sin and provide breakthrough and freedom. Point at that God wants to empower them and "lead them not into temptation, but deliver them from evil."
5) Pray with the child.
Pray with your child. If it was purposeful and willful act, pray with your child in asking God's forgiveness for this willful act. Pray that God will minimize the affects on their mind, spirit, and life. Pray that God will protect them from exposure to porn in the future. Pray that God will give them the strength to resist temptation when it comes their way.
What about you? Are you finding this to be something that is a growing issue? Is it "not as bad" as I make it sound? What are your thoughts? Share in the comments section! What are some of the things you are doing to help kids and parents deal with this issue?