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How to react when your child has been exposed to inappropriate material.

“How do you respond in the moment?
“Kids listen to how we say things almost more than what we actually say,” said Elizabeth Schroeder, the executive director of Answer. Don’t freak out. Take a deep breath. React calmly. Talk it over with a spouse or friend, and then choose a calm moment to follow up.

How do you actually start the conversation about pornography?
Let your children know that they can ask you about anything they might have seen. Even if they have no questions, start the conversation with feelings, Mr. Klein suggested, by asking: “How did you feel about what you saw? Was it scary? Exciting? Confusing?” Assure children that whatever they’re feeling does not make them a bad person.

How do you talk to children of different ages about pornography?
“If a 4-year-old is looking at sexually explicit material, it’s probably making no impact on them whatsoever,” Mr. Klein said. A number of parents said in interviews that their children had searched for sexual terms when they were as young as 8 or 9, usually to better understand sex. The best response at that age? Honest sex education that reflects a parent’s values. Teenagers, on the other hand, have a greater need for understanding what is real versus what is produced for entertainment, Mr. Klein said.

What if your children don’t want to talk about what they’ve seen?
Some children might not have any specific questions, or shy away from talking to their parents about explicit materials they’ve seen, but that doesn’t mean they’re not curious or don’t have questions. An incident can present an opportunity for parents to provide guidance as children develop their ideas about sex, said Mr. Klein.

How have other parents handled this conversation?
On the following pages you can read five stories of how parents have handled the profusion of explicit content available to their children, as well as expert advice for handling different situations. Begin with the story of Jeanne Sager, and what happened when she left her 6-year-old daughter alone with a “My Little Pony” video in “The Accidental Click.” ”


Click the Link below to read several examples of how parents handled these tricky situations.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Comments (2)

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    Good article! What I cant seem to find help on is how to help a child process it after the fact. My foster son was exposed to nudity, and pornography at the age of 4/5. Now these sexualized behaviors and total preoccupation with sexualized images is really becoming an issue because he is talking to my other children about it. He is seeing a therapist ,I’m just wondering what I can do to help him?


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      Josie Angerhofer


      Thank you for your sharing your experience. I am glad to hear that your son is seeing a therapist. That is what I would have recommended! You are definitely doing the right thing. We always recommend seeking out a therapist in situations like this. Each child and situation is different so getting specific advice from a professional is your best resource. Their advice will be the best guide to follow in helping you and your child navigate the situation in the healthiest way possible. I would definitely ask your therapist what other specific things you can do to help your son and family in this situation. After working with your son they should be able to provide some specific advice for you to follow.


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