It Happened! The One Thing I Dreaded My Child Being Exposed To

Piling in the car with two kids and handfuls of crafts and goodies, from a homeschool party, I hear myself give instructions like a flight attendant before take off.

“Put on your seatbelt and make sure your cup is in the cupholder…and please don’t get glue everywhere.”

My mind wrestled with prioritizing tasks while I navigated the quickest route to arrive at our next destination. Even in mom logistics mode, the sun shining and the changing colors of the leaves were not lost on me. Just another beautiful fall day with a breeze coming through the window and the radio on.

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The Conversation Begins

“Mommy, I have to tell you something.”

I hear myself say “What?”, however, my mind was pre-occupied with the decision of what to make for dinner.

“Emma had her phone with her when we played. She was trying to get me to watch something with her. I told her I didn’t want to watch it.”

Still, half listening to the radio, I assumed this was just another 9-year-old girl disagreement. You know, like who gets to be “it” or whose doll gets to wear the pink outfit.  I was half listening to the radio until she said…

“It was on YouTube. It was really bad and inappropriate. I told her I did not want to see it. She just showed it to me but I told her to turn it off.”

My ears engaged at 100%. I assumed this was exposure to an inappropriate music video or perhaps a horror movie trailer. To cut to the chase, I asked what she saw. My question was met with silence.

You know the silence. The kind that leads into the realm of serious parenting. The silence that tells you that in about one-minute things were about to change and your sunshiney day was about to grow dim.

Upon further inquiry, and through the stammering and embarrassment, it boiled down to this…

The neighbor girl, Emma (not her real name), using her phone, showed my daughter sexually explicit videos. My daughter did not want to watch it but did not escape seeing what was put in her face. The girls proceeded to play hide and seek instead. Except Emma grabbed my daughter’s Kindle, which was on the porch, and took it to her hiding place and began to watch videos again. This account was verified by my older daughter who said something was going on but she only arrived on the scene once the neighbor girl was in her hiding place.

So here is what I don’t know. I don’t know how long my daughter watched these videos. I don’t know exactly what she saw.

Here is what I do know. I know my 9-year-old girl was exposed to sexually explicit material by another 9-year-old girl.

I hold no anger toward this little girl. She is just as much a victim. At some point, this child was exposed and possibly in the same manner. Perhaps she even protested or felt embarrassment the first time she saw it. I couldn’t help but think that my own daughter could have been the one to expose another innocent girl had I not been told and put stop to it. You see, I found out about this because my daughter recounted her frustration and embarrassment about this to another friend. This friend immediately told her to tell me and then told her own mom. What if my daughter showed this friend what she saw rather than told her? What if this precious friend didn’t do the right thing? You see, my daughter didn’t tell me until a friend told her I needed to know. My daughter thought she handled it by refusing to watch it. Honestly, I think it was more of matter believing she would be prevented from playing with her friend. So, do I really know how many times my daughter was exposed to this?

The Talk

I did everything a parent SHOULD do …

Before you decide to blame me or think ill of my daughter for not running in the house and telling me, here are some things to consider:

  1. We have known these neighbors for over 5 years and the mom is very concerned about purity and exposure.
  2. My child is not allowed to bring her Kindle out when she plays. She is dyslexic and uses it for audiobooks. She often ear reads on the porch.
  3. I check my children’s history on their devices regularly. They don’t even have the Netflix password.
  4. We set limits on screen time and have rules about what is allowed and not allowed for viewing.
  5. When the neighbors and my girls play, I check on them regularly.
  6. My younger girls are not allowed to have any online devices in their bedrooms at night.

I followed all the rules. I checked off all the boxes. Yet, in the end, that was not enough to prevent my child’s exposure to inappropriate material. While I was never so naive to believe all my measures were 100% foolproof, I never expected my child’s exposure to sexually explicit material to come so young and from another 9-year-old girl.

There is HOPE!

Should we abandon all hope? Should we just let them roam free on the internet since exposure will come anyway? Should we blame ourselves and second guess our ability to mother?

It's the Heart Not the Hemline quote on modesty

No, we should do none of those things. Having checks and balances in place is crucial as you do not want exposure to come within your walls. You keep your home fortified to stand against enemy attacks. You don’t waste time blaming yourself and feeling helpless. You take action through teaching them God’s Word as the ultimate protection and path to purity.

Do not neglect to fortify your child’s spirit while you fortify your home against such attacks. We must do our best to not allow sin to grow in our children’s hearts. Despite our best efforts, we cannot protect our children 100% of the time. Yet, be encouraged, God will protect them and they can learn to rely on Him to guard against such attacks.

I don’t think I need to impress upon you how damaging it is for a child to be exposed to porn. I don’t think I need to inform you of studies that show children exposed to porn are more likely to engage in sex at a younger age. We know where the path leads. It leads to a weak spirit and strong flesh. It leads to broken relationships. It leads to addiction. In a world where exposure to such things is more of a question of when and not if, we need to prepare our children to put on the full armor God. We need to impress upon them the purpose God has in their lives and how to honor God with their purity. It is never too early to train your child for this battle.

How are you protecting your children against from being exposed to pornography and sex? Share with us in the comment section below!

Having the Talk

Richele

Richele

Graphic Designer, Branding Consultant at Ruby INK Design
RIchele is a homeschooling mom of 4 children ranging in age from 8 to 19 years old. She has a collegiate background in educational psychology which did little to prepare her for grading math papers while making dinner. After admitting to a font addiction and many hex colored dreams, she created Ruby INK Design where she creates printables, media kits, and more to help women create their best online presence through design.
Richele

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19 thoughts on “It Happened! The One Thing I Dreaded My Child Being Exposed To

  1. Thank you for this article. I could have written it myself. Thank you for the encouragement on not to beat ourselves up for having our checks and balances, only to discover things don’t always average out the way you wanted.
    A lot of golden nuggets of truth in this article. Thank you.
    Christi

  2. thank you Richele for this difficult blog post. My initial reaction, was, “whoa, no way, uh oh”. Then as I read, I felt sad and quiet. I pray that God restores and renews your daughter’s mind as well as the neighbor girl. It is hard to parent these days with everything in our society ( TV commercials, movie trailers, cartoons, music videos, online games, TV Shows, etc) coming at our children from all angles as inappropriate. Thank you for reminding me to be on alert for my children’s safety.

  3. Thank you for writing about this! I’m sorry about what your daughter experienced and for your neighbor girl as well. We too have had to deal with these issues. Unless you live under a rock, you are inundated with sexual images everywhere: tv, advertisements, internet, movies, etc. It’s frightening just how easy it is to be led down that road. Just by typing in “belly button” in the search bar, my son was one click away from porn. Unfortunately he saw something that cannot be unseen, and I am absolutely sick because of it. Fortunately we serve a great God, our protector and redeemer. We must put on the armor of God each and every day without fail because we can be sure the enemy is always at the ready.

    • Yes, we can never forget to not put on that armor. It just so happened that I was updating the Armor of God unit study when this occurred. What a lesson it was for everyone in my home.

  4. Something similar happened to our then 9 year old boy with two other 9yo boys. It’s devastating when something so vile sneaks its way into our childrens’ worlds. We tried so hard to make our home a safe place and it was broken into despite all our efforts. I am so sorry it happened to you, too.

    • Jesus can take brokenness and create beauty. I do feel confident that fortifying my home did give my daughter the awareness to say she would not watch it. However, once seen you can’t unsee it. All the work and prayers are worth it…we do know that…but it is so hard when we do our best and the enemy still finds a way to attack.

    • On to the road to recovery, right? I will return with the rest of the story next week. But the involves taking added measures to help protect my child such as talking openly with parents about how they handle the use of devices in their own home. I have prayed with my child and we are actively studying the Word. I did not intend to leave anything out…but I see how things didn’t seem quite finished. I will do that. 🙂

    • Thank you for the link! It appears the exposure happened at school but that was all I was told. We are trying to navigate these waters, thank you for sharing this!

  5. Theres alot of trash on youtube, what I haven’t seen is very much, if any porn, I’m guessing we’re being very liberal with that description here, because porn on youtube is not a thing. What there is, is alot of streamers and popular content creators than have no morals and it’s sad how easily they can influence young minds. As I was growing up, I know that my parents making a huge deal out of skimpy costumes and such actually created a huge desire to know what I was missing. I think sometimes something as simple as “Oh, that’s bad, we don’t wanna watch that” is a better route than putting such things on a pedestal that can’t be obtained. Kids want to climb pedestals.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read the post and to comment.

      Porn is simply a depiction of sexually explicit behavior designed to cause sexual arousal. I realize there are different levels of porn. At first, I wondered how bad the material my child saw could actually be considering it was on YouTube. Then I looked some things up and I found material that would fall in under the definition of porn. No, it was not hardcore. What I did see fell under the definition of porn. So it is not textbook porn or what the world wants to call porn, then should I not be concerned? Will it have no impact? Obviously, it does…especially to a child who has not seen such things before. I am not a prude. I am not an alarmist. When my older daughter confirmed what was going on and saw a glimpse of what the other child was watching described it to me as, “The worst thing you can imagine you would see on YouTube.” So…the “on YouTube” is a pass then? I see what you are trying to say…you are trying to say that I making a bigger deal out of this than it really is. You are trying to say that I used the word porn in an alarmist fashion. That’s fine…you can think that. I am sure many would agree. But I disagree.

      Now where we do agree, not that it matters we need not to, is making a big deal out of something to the point it arouses curiosity in children. I think children should be aware of the dangers out there but in a proper manner. My kids are not thrown by some of the junk in the world because I handle much of it in a casual manner. I did not freak out or put anything on a pedestal when I found out about this. I let my child do the talking and then I explained to her that what she saw was inappropriate and not glorifying to God. It was a simple statement…and all that was required. My actions took it further. I see I should “finish” this story a bit and give what happened after. My intent for writing this post was to illustrate how easy it is for children to be exposed to harmful material. I felt I was checking off all the boxes in keeping my kids from such material. Well, in my own house, I was. Maybe I am foolish, but I did not expect another 9-year-old girl to show my 9-year-old girl such material.

    • No porn on YouTube?! He must have a very liberal stance on porn to say such a thing. Victoria Secrets is porn to me. And it’s blatantly advertised on 20 foot posters in the mall. We teach our children to look the other way just walking in the mall and standing at the grocery checkout. The Bible says, “Mine eye effecteth mine heart.” We turn the wicked magazines at the grocery store counter backwards. I most definitely do not believe I am being an alarmist. I am someone who wants my sons and my daughters to have a pure and clean heart before the Lord. Are they going to see and hear things they shouldn’t? Of course! This world is full of sin and sinners. But I’m going to do my dead-level best to help protect their heart and teach them how to rely on the Lord to protect their heart while they are young.

  6. So sorry that, as parents we have to be Viligate on Social media and try to have Open Lines of communication with our children. They are surrounded by Dangers all around them. We have to pray Daily for Protection from the unknown

  7. I can feel your pain as a parent. Yes your daughter is quite young to be exposed to porn at such an early age. You handled the situation well and your concerns are understood. Porn is as ubiquitous as smart phones these days and eventually your daughter would have seen such material online by at least the age of twelve or thirteen. Use this as a learning tool for your daughter and by the time she is old enough to understand her sexuality and how distorted porn is she will be all the wiser although at present her innocents has been compromised. With your continued guidance your beloved daughter will understand what took place and in time she will more appreciate your parental intervention on the matter. Take good care and God bless.

  8. Thank you for this article. Thank you for informing parents what happened and how. I remember taking a ‘Child Abuse’ training class and one of the situations was a classmate “abusing” a child in the bathroom. The point of the training was awareness- bathroom breaks in pairs in not safe and classmates are also a risk. (Unfortunately, because they can be exposed to these behaviors.) I was angry to learn this. It’s bad enough that I have to worry about creepy men and family friends (as we are told most of these situations are someone familiar). Now I have to worry about classmates too. Then we add internet and this stuff is even more available. It’s frustrating. I’m so glad you shared this article so parent can work on more communication and to know more possible scenarios to watch for. Satan is hard at work trying to capture our kids!

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