5 Back to School Dangers: Arm Your Kids Now
This article was originally published in August 2017 and updated in September 2022.
Back to school can be exciting for kids (and parents)! And of course we want to believe our children will be in a completely safe environment. But the unpleasant truth is that kids, even very young children, need to be prepared to face 5 types of dangers from pornography when they leave your home and head to class.
Elementary Kids Exposed to Porn at School
I’ll never forget talking to Lydia, a mom of three elementary school girls--two of whom were exposed to pornography while doing projects on a classroom computer! Luckily they were prepared by their mom and knew exactly how to respond by shutting down the computer and telling the teacher.
Not all kids know to do this. In one instance, her daughter's classmates searched for and found the same pornographic picture the next day! And these were 3rd graders!
Lydia’s third daughter was in the 3rd grade when she overheard a girl say her dad made her watch videos of naked people. Lydia shared what happened next:
Because we had discussed the dangers of pornography at home, she knew how to recognize it and how to react. She told her teacher and the school responded by addressing the needs of the student and putting a stop to the abuse.
What an amazing rescue--all because one little girl knew how to recognize pornography!
You might think these situations are uncommon, but more and more children are facing these challenges at school--and most of them don’t know what to do or how to defend their young minds.
I believe every child deserves to be armed with strategies to reject pornography, no matter where or when they find it. And it’s not as hard as you think. Here are the 5 pornography exposure dangers every child will most likely face going back to school and 5 strategies to prepare them to stay safe.
5 Proactive Strategies for Facing Back to School Dangers
#1 EXPOSURE DANGER: Kids on the playground or on the bus bring smartphones to school and share pornographic images and videos. (This is why I believe every school bus in America is potentially a XXX theater!)
- Define what pornography is so they will recognize it immediately when they see it. If they recognize it, they can take steps to reject it. Good Pictures Bad Pictures makes this conversation easy, easy, easy! Send them back to school with a strong internal filter.
- Practice with your child using this role play: Pretend you’re a classmate and say to your child, “Hey, I wanna show you something on my phone!” Teach your child to respond by asking, “What do you want to show me?” That arms your kid with a barrier. If the classmate says anything like “naked people,” your child can learn to say, “No, I’m not into that.” In any case, asking “What” can give your child an extra second or two to prepare to turn away.
#2 EXPOSURE DANGER: Students looking for graphics on the school computer for an assignment inadvertently find pornography. Even with filters on, very inappropriate content can be displayed under the most innocent of searches. In the above example, the kids were looking for a picture of a soccer ball and found female full frontal nudity.
- Ask your child's teacher what the protocol is if a child finds pornography or other inappropriate images on a school device. Then make sure your child knows exactly what to do.
- Caution kids to limit how far they scroll down. Search engines put the most relevant content higher on the page, so there's a greater chance of finding nudity the further down you scroll.
#3 EXPOSURE DANGER: Kids easily find pornographic books when using database services purchased by the school and available through the library portal.
Beyond a child’s exposure to porn, schools send a message of acceptance when they allow access to pornographic material through their library portals.
- First, read more about this problem here.
- Then get your child’s library login and check out the databases yourself. (For guidance, see the video in this post.)
- Finally, if you find pornographic books on a school-approved database, please report it to your school’s librarian and superintendent. Tell them that you expect schools to provide a safer way for your student to access library services.
#4 EXPOSURE DANGER: Kids search online for a slang expression or word they've heard their peers use. Sadly most of these terms have a sexual meaning and when kids go looking online, they often find pornography. And who can blame them? No kid wants to look dumb or naive in front of their friends.
- Explain to your child that they will probably hear words or expressions used at school that they don’t know, and that’s OK.
- Teach them that it’s better if they ask you and you’ll explain what it means. (You may not know all of the meanings, but it’s much safer for you to look it up in the Urban Dictionary than for your kid!)
- Repeatedly encourage them to ask you the meanings instead of looking them up online. If you develop a trusting relationship, your child will feel more comfortable coming to you.
- When you find out what the word means, don’t freak out in front of your child. That will not encourage an open dialogue in the future!
#5 EXPOSURE DANGER: Kids hear sexualized conversation or witness inappropriate behavior that other children have learned from viewing pornography or from sexual abuse.
First, continue to develop an open, trusting and warm relationship with your children so they feel safe coming to you and talking about what they’ve heard and seen at school.
- Anytime they tell you anything, stay calm and resist the temptation to freak out or condemn or lecture.
- Praise them and thank them for trusting you enough to tell you.
- Don’t bemoan the state of the world (and how it was better/safer/more fun when you grew up); instead use these opportunities to invite your child to ask you questions.
- Promise you’ll do your best to accurately answer any questions they have.
- If you think that something needs to be reported, do it calmly without accusing school authorities of not doing their jobs.
- Finally, help your child work through their feelings and reactions to what they’ve seen or heard.
Every child deserves to be armed against pornography exposure at school. As parents mentor their children in how to respond to pornography, they assure that their kids won’t have to face this troubling challenge alone.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures
"I really like the no-shame approach the author takes. It's so much more than just 'don't watch or look at porn.' It gave my children a real understanding about the brain and its natural response to pornography, how it can affect you if you look at it, and how to be prepared when you do come across it (since, let's face it... it's gonna happen at some point)." -Amazon Review by D.O.