How can it be?
How can it be that at least 2 out of every 10 girls and 1 out of every 10 boys are estimated to be sexually abused (physical contact abuse) before their 14th birthday? Every 8 minutes, Child Protection Services responds to a sexual abuse report. What solutions are we providing to confront this distressing problem? One proven method is implementing a Personal Safety Plan, which empowers children to say “NO!” to unsafe words, looks or touches and can help prevent child sexual abuse.
The sensitive topic of child sexual abuse can cause our hearts and stomachs to ache. Taking some time to understand the magnitude of this unthinkable problem can prove worthwhile compared to a lifetime of recovering from the pain of it. Child sexual abuse can be defined as "any contact or interaction (visual, verbal or psychological) between a child/adolescent and an adult (or two juveniles) when the child/adolescent is being used (by force, coercion or persuasion) for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other persons”. Pornography can be a powerful grooming tool used on children by predators and perpetrators, which can also be a form of non-physical-contact sexual abuse. With easy access to Smartphones and technology at home and school, children are vulnerable to seeing porn, which grows increasingly hard core because of its addictive nature. As trusted grown-ups, we have the opportunity and responsibility to be proactive and talk to children before any damage is done from child sexual abuse in all its forms. Children can learn to recognize a questionable encounter, set boundaries by saying “NO!” and tell a trusted grown-up until the abuse stops by following a Personal Safety Plan at home and school.
Protecting Kids’ Brains and Bodies
The brain is plastic and it changes – visible neuroplasticity – just like muscles. It is modified by the behavior it produces therefore porn can change the brain. Viewing it releases dopamine and adrenaline and surges the reward system causing a similar reaction to the brain as drug use. Chemicals in the brain are powerful. Oxytocin, can cause one to bond with fantasy and reject reality. The addiction footprint on the brain is atrophy in the striate or reward system – the more viewing per week, the more it changes. Also, porn drives virtual reality (Oculus Rift) – multiplicity porn is highly addictive as evidenced in Japan. At this point, you may be wondering how long does someone have to be away from porn for the brain to recover from it? An educated guess would be one or two years – similar to someone who ended drug use. It depends on where they are at in their development, age, the reason for porn use and whether the person has other addictions. “An event which lasts a half a second within 5-10 min. has produced a structural change as profound as the structural changes one sees in (brain) damage…” (Dr. Gary Lynch, neurologist) requires our serious attention (Roberts, Hilton and Struthers at Set Free Global Summit, 2016).
Porn is sexual exploitation. Porn is a crime, not entertainment. About 88% of scenes in porn films contain acts of physical aggression and 49% of scenes contain verbal aggression. The “portrayed” abuse in porn scenes are real and many of the porn performers are sex trafficked. About 80% of sex addicts were sexually abused (False Intimacy, Dr. Harry Schaumburg). Also, sextortion is becoming a major problem with minor children/teens and becoming one of the biggest dangers to kids online – predators have access to our kids and teens. Don’t “trust” your kids/teens on the Internet without barriers – youth are a target market of porn. Porn has replaced the school, the home and the church as a source of sex education. Parents must think “I want my kid to hear from me before a friend, Internet, older kid or culture gets to him or her with pornography! You can go on the offensive and take back your rightful authority as the leader of your children After teaching children and youth for over 15 years, I realized that most of them are very curious about the brain, which is a fascinating topic! Teaching children how to protect their brain from the harms of porn and debunking the myths that “it doesn’t affect me, I will quit later, and I’m not hurting anyone” can be effective (McDowell D6 Conference 2012).
Create a Personal Safety Plan for School and Home
One practical way to introduce the harms of porn with solutions is by implementing a White Ribbon Against Porn (WRAP) week in your school. Administrators, educators, school counselors and staff members can arm themselves with the facts about porn and the brain, which can help raise awareness within families and the entire community. Plus, investing in an Internet filter such as Mobicip for all devices within the school system will repay in dividends, since protecting the mind of a child is priceless. Secondly, adding a school-wide Personal Safety Plan with child-friendly language is powerful since everyone will be working toward prevention and also be prepared to recognize, intervene and report all forms of child sexual abuse. Third, providing a library of resources for parents specifically designated for this topic is vital for growing a partnership, which can motivate everyone to be proactive for the sake of the children. For example, I taught Personal Safety to over 1000 kids in Michigan Public Schools and was inspired to write contemporary children’s books called Say “NO!” and TELL! to empower grown-ups and kids alike through this read aloud with role-play experiences. The books are full of practical tools including a story, eight research based scenarios (I studied the predators and turned their tactics into eight positive life skills for kids), a quiz, a Personal Safety Family Plan, a removeable section for grown-ups with statistics and solutions as well as resources about how to get help.
Gratefully, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, caregivers, church leaders, and counselors all over the nation are currently reading the Say “NO!” and TELL! books with children they love to help prevent child sexual abuse, while preserving the innocence as best as possible, since I do not cover reproduction. You can download a complimentary Family Safety Plan on my website at www.WeStandGuard.com by sharing your email as well as order both books – one for girls and one for boys!
What is your part in leaving the legacy of a moral society for our children and the next generation? What is your next step?
Kimberly Perry is an elementary school educator with over 15 years of experience working with children across the country and a Master’s of Arts in Teaching. After teaching Personal Safety to over 1000 elementary students, she was inspired to write the Say “NO!” and TELL! book series.