We are hearing more and more stories and sadly evidence of children viewing pornography, being preyed upon and becoming victims to online sexual abuse and sexploitation. As most children have easy access to Smartphones (either their own or friends), I’m afraid this problem will not being going away. It is not IF your child views pornography or is asked to send nudes but WHEN.

My advice: let’s start at the beginning. Below is where I think we need to begin. There will be so much more to unpack with your kids, however the below is a crucial first step.

1. Make sure you are your child’s safe person from the early years; that they know they can come to you about anything, and you will believe them and listen to what they are telling you with serious intent.

2. If you don’t know the answers to your child’s question or concerns, let them know you will make it your job to find out. 

3. Let your child know if they do view pornography or someone asks them to send nudes, that they WON’T get into trouble with you when they disclose this information. The main reason that kids do not tell is that they are worried they will get into trouble. They may also feel guilt, shame and embarrassment, and anxiety and even trauma at viewing sexual images that they have no understanding of. Therefore, our job as their safe person is to constantly reinforce that they will NOT get into trouble when they come to us with any concerns, even those that involve the viewing of private parts.

4. If anyone tells your child to keep a secret, encourage them to reply with, ‘I don’t keep secrets only happy surprises because they will always be told.’ Then ensure they know to tell you or a trusted adult straight away. 

5. Embed this core belief that your child can talk to you about anything without fear or negative consequences. Begin this from a young age and it will hold you both in good stead as your young person grows into a teenager and an adult.

The world is tricky, so having a relationship with your child where conversations about anything and everything is on the table will be extremely helpful!

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