Porn addiction and children

Local News

When you think of those who might be addicted to porn, you assume they are older teens or adults. However, experts will tell you children as young as five or six can become addicted.

Melea Stephens is a counselor at Wellspring Christian Clinic in Birmingham and also an advocate against pornography and sex trafficking.

“I don’t specialize in children, but some families brought in children that were very young — ages 6-11, and it was within a two year span I saw these children, and I realized how addictive pornography was and how impactful it was to the mind of a child,” said Stephens.

She shares details from two cases that she has permission to share.

“A little boy who couldn’t get pornography at home — he knew that the neighbor would get Playboy magazines in the mail, so he would sneak out in the middle of the night to try to look in the mailbox,” said Stephens. “He would also sneak out and break into the neighbor’s house to gain access to pornography on their computer.”

She tells me another instance of exposure to porn led to child on child sex abuse.

“I had a little girl who was six years old when she was exposed to pornography at a neighbor’s house,” said Stephens. “She came from a really solid family, but when she saw it she began acting it out on a playmate because that’s what children do.”

She says it escalated to the point the child was stealing iPhones from other students at school so she could look at porn.

After bringing the child in for counseling, the parents told Stephens how pornography affected their daughter. “She doesn’t bond with us or respond to us or hug the same way. We don’t know what to do,” Stephens shared about what the girl’s parents told her.

“So this little girl sitting on my couch — her feet don’t even hit the floor — she is telling me: ‘What’s wrong with having sex? You should be able to have sex with whoever you want’,” said Stephens.

While exposure to porn doesn’t always result in addiction, she hopes sharing these stories help parents become more aware.

“This is why we have to raise awareness so parents can be more vigilant about what their children are exposed to and to help inoculate them from the inside out as well as set up external filters,” said Stephens.

Pam Clasgens is the Community Awareness and Prevention Director at the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville.

“The impact when a child is exposed to pornography can be different depending on the child and depending on the family and also depending on the number of times they see pornography,” said Clasgens.

They can be exposed to porn in a number of different ways.

“It can be as simple as misspelling a website or clicking on the wrong link and suddenly something opens that they didn’t intend to open,” said Clasgens. “There are also some kids who may find it by mistake and show their friends.”

She says the most important thing parents can do to protect their kids is to communicate with their kids and to keep an open dialogue about Internet use.

“For younger kids, just talk to them about, ‘What are you doing online? What do you like to do online? Have you ever seen images that make you feel sad, scared or uncomfortable, and what did you do when that happened? And really encourage them if they have seen something that makes them feel uncomfortable to let you know about it,” said Clasgens.

More information and resources are available for parents is available at CultureReframed.org under the Parents Program tab. Resources for parents are also available at the Nationalcac.org.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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