Talking with confidence about internet porn and sexting

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Fresh Start videos by Banana Moments Foundation – dedicated to parenting with confidence in the social network

My name is Joanna Jullien, and I am the founder of Banana Moments Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to help parents stay current on technology and youth culture trends, and be well informed and confident about their own inherent capacity to lead their children as the primary teachers for life. This was my response to the power crisis mobile connectivity introduced to the parent-child relationship.

In addition to the benefits of more efficient communication and personalized learning, mobile connectivity also brings the world in closer and exposes youth to adult issues at earlier ages. When it is possible to believe that everything you need to know you can simply google and conceal, imparting wisdom is more challenging than ever. So the three areas of concern parents must be prepared to address with children and mobile connectivity include: bullying, addiction and exploitation.

Joanna Jullien "Parental authority cannot be taken. It can only be lost when we surrender it."  Photo by: Christi Benz

Joanna Jullien “Parental authority cannot be taken. It can only be lost when we surrender it.” Photo by: Christi Benz

This talk explores ways to have a meaningful conversation with your child about sexual exploitation, and in particular as it relates to internet porn and sexting.

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1. First, it is important to recognize that internet porn and sexting is about power and control over hearts and minds – it is about human exploitation which is glorified on and off line. It is tempting to avoid talking about it because of the strong emotion and shame associated with gratuitous sex. Hence it is no surprise that porn is the first industry to set up shop in the cyber realm.

2. Law enforcement officers will tell you that sexting is very common among youth, and usually involves a girl sending a sexually explicit image to a love interest that when it sours her photo gets distributed and she is bullied. Boys are typically involved in sharing the images.

3. Some of the consequences of sexting and internet porn: legal, social, emotional and spiritual
a. Legal – child porn felony, boys at risk of becoming registered sex offenders by distributing
b. Social – reputation and bullying
c. Emotional – dehumanized, devalued and powerless
d. Spiritual – infects the future relationship with a spouse that makes it possible to make love and nurture a family

4. And so when kids experience sexual exploitation and its consequences, this is what I call a lie that becomes a real experience murdering the truth that our children are magnificent sons and daughters.

5. In general, overcoming the shame of being exposed to and engaged in sexually exploitive images and activities is one of the challenges many youth will face. Think back to when you were young and you knew too much for your own good; when you were exposed to something that inspired shame. Did you run home to tell your parents about it? Probably not. Believe me the pedophiles and purveyors of internet porn are counting on it as kids keep such things secret for fear of being found out, when actually their liberty depends upon exposing it so justice can prevail.

6. So the most important thing a parent can do is to create a home environment that is safe to talk about events and images that inspire shame. One approach is to consider that “sin” as not a judgy thing, but rather as an archery term for ANYTHING outside of the bull’s-eye. – and then when we apply this concept to the human condition, it covers a lot of territory ranging from a jealous fleeting thought to capital murder. Anyone with the right circumstances and the wrong frame of mind is capable of just about anything. “There but for grace of God go I,” is the adage which curbs the temptation to criticize and ridicule those who have been caught in such traps.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4

7. I have come to appreciate that overcoming shame requires the same mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible: recognizing that God is sovereign over the life of an individual, including your own child, and He grants every individual intelligent life and free will. So therefore when we use our free will wisely, it is possible to choose to forgive the offenses, the things that are outside of bulls-eye, and change our course by aiming again for the bulls’-eye (i.e., the heart of God where there is only love and peace, and casts out fear).

8. In this way I view God’s love as archery lessons on how to love our children as God loves humanity – so they can learn how to be free from whatever risky traps they may have been exposed to or fall into, choose to change their course despite the real consequences of what has happened, and stand corrected.

9. In order to nurture a mindset about sex and sexuality that inspires open communication, here are some things parents may want to consider:
a. How do you model your sexuality?
b. Are you comfortable answering questions about sex and sexuality?
c. What expectations have you communicated to your child about interacting with the opposite sex?

10. Here is a homework assignment, if you choose: Describe the spouse you hope your child will choose. What are their characteristics? How will that person treat your child? How will your child treat their spouse? Why does it matter? How will they prosper with this relationship you can envision? Start having conversations with your child about the value of having a spouse and what that means for their choices today.

To access related worksheets for parenting with confidence, go to Reviving Parenthood.

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Related: Touchy Subjects

(BMB-0128)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna (jullien@surewest.net) and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.

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