Parents are key to combating pornography, experts say
The third thing teens want parents to know is that they, parents, are part of the solution. Parents should educate themselves, know what their teens are doing and set rules together as a family. What Internet-enabled devices are teens using? What social media or streaming services are they using? Who are they following, friending or texting?
These conversations should happen frequently and earlier than parents think, Olsen said, adding that they've received e-mails from kids as young as 8 who say they're struggling with pornography.
However, such conversations should always begin by addressing and defining healthy sexuality before introducing the concept of pornography, Olsen said.
"One of the best things you can do as a parent is help your child decipher between healthy sexuality and its counterfeit," he said. "Today in our culture it's all in one sloppy bucket ... and it's hard to decipher between what's healthy and what's not. You are the source (to) help them delineate."
Do that by dealing with situations as they arise, like discussing a risqué billboard or commercial. "Don't go, 'Uhhhh,' and pretend (you) didn't see it ... and move on,' " Olsen said. "(Instead), use it. Say, 'Hey, look at that, what do you think? How is that portraying women? How do you feel when you see that?'"
And if teens open up and admit there's a problem, don't shun them, guilt them or shame them, Olsen said, just love them and work through it together.
After all, love is the opposite of pornography.
In the closing keynote, Mary Anne Layden, director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania, explained that pornography is such a problem because it destroys love by turning sex into a product and bodies into a commodity. She closed with a quote by the English philosopher Roger Scruton:
"Pornography threatens the loss of love in a world where only love brings happiness."
For more information and videos of the UCAP presentations visit the UCAP website at utahcoalition.org.
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