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?
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:
- We have known these neighbors for over 5 years and the mom is very concerned about purity and exposure.
- 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.
- I check my children’s history on their devices regularly. They don’t even have the Netflix password.
- We set limits on screen time and have rules about what is allowed and not allowed for viewing.
- When the neighbors and my girls play, I check on them regularly.
- 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?
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!