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The Horror! Discovering Your Child’s Porn Stash

The Horror! Discovering Your Child’s Porn Stash

A few years ago, when I was a new parent, a seasoned fellow parent told me about when he first discovered his sonís particular interest in pornography. At that time, his son was 14 and was left home alone one afternoon to do his homework while his father was out running errands. The boyís father (my friend) returned home early only to find his son, running shorts around his ankles, pleasuring himself and searching out all flavors of porn on his fatherís laptop. My friendís first reaction was shock and embarrassment (the same could be said for his son who ran into the bathroom and closed the door) and then followed by a more sober conversation about pornography, masturbation and the Internet.

As a parent you cannot ignore the allure of the Internet, particularly the wealth of Internet porn easily found with a few keystrokes. It is a far more sophisticated endeavor than squirreling away a few nudie magazines under your bed, and the variety and depth of the subject matter is sometimes really alarming. By some estimates, pornography makes up well over half the traffic on the Internet, and in essence, it is almost impossible to fully avoid (at least for curious teens).

Recently, a father, who happened to accidentally (or otherwise) stumble upon his 13-year-old sonís treasure trove of porn on his computer, penned a letter to his son and then later published it online. The letter was not intended to shame or condemn the son, but just very gently urge his son toward more responsible modes of web searches, etc. (seemingly, the fatherís big concern was computer viruses, not the corrupting influence of pornography). Dana Boyd, a sort of Internet cultural critic, thinks these moments should be part of an ongoing, larger conversation with your child. One shouldnít view this discovery as an event in itself, but more a part of the dialogue that has been going on for years about sex, body image, and all of that.

Without a doubt, every parent reacts in their own way, but is there a right way? Should curious, or even near obsessed, teens be shamed away from such temptations? How would you address the issue of sexuality, without shaming your child? What works? What doesnít?

Related:
Children of the Porn: Will Hiding from Pornography Actually Work?
The Sex Talk: 3 Things to Consider
Getting the 411 on the Teen Hook Up

Read more: Blogs, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, Teens, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appťtit among other publications.

29 comments

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2:38AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

Thank you for the article

8:17AM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

There is just SO much out there.... Even hardcore is readily accessible. A damning indictment of our society and it makes you worry, fear even, what exposure to that sort of thing will do to impressionable young minds.

6:11AM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

Porn shouldn't exist. It's exploitation of women as sex toys.

9:10AM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

porn harms. it truly does. women are not objects. we are good for more than a few "loads". we have a purpose higher than sex. imagine that. porn is not a good thing. its a quick fix that can often replace real human contact. real relationships. real happiness and real satisfaction. it's a sad addiction and makes for a sad existence.

10:04PM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

To those of you so apparently uneducated that you would condone pornography or say such ignorant things like "nothing wrong with a little pornography," let me just tell you. THERE IS things wrong with it. Millions of things. Just a few:

Individuals who view pornography are more likely to think of women in stereotype, as socially non-discriminating and eager to accommodate any and every sexual request.

You don't care if your kids turn out that way? Hm. Any woman that ever steps into that child's life will surely care.

* It is used to instruct the child victims, reduce their natural inhibitions, and it is used to prepare and arouse the perpetrator.

* 87% of convicted molesters of girls, and 77% of convicted molesters of boys, admit to the use of pornography, most often in the commission of their crimes.

My point here is this: stop ignoring the truth. Stop passing on the message that porn is harmless. We need real men in this world, not a bunch of porn-infested sickos who don't know a damn thing about how to treat a lady!

2:15AM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

Thank you

8:49PM PDT on Oct 15, 2012

I would have a candid talk about sexuality, respect, and the difference between fantasy (porn) and reality.

10:52AM PDT on Oct 15, 2012

Perhaps if we had a healthy outlook on sex children would be instructed on masturbation and pornography. When my brother was 7 he found my Dad's stash of Playboy's. My father said all he could see was my brothers red hair over the back of the chair. My brother was so intent that he didn't hear my Dad and when my Dad asked him what he was doing he said "I'm looking at the pretty ladies. Why don't they have any clothes on. Aren't they cold?" I don't remember what happened after that but the books were put up high and the story told many times.

I told all my kids about masturbation and sex.

My son used to put his hands down his shorts anytime he wanted and I instructed him that he could only do this when we were home and he was in his room alone. This was not something we did in public. He was fine with that. When he had his first wet dream he knew what it was because we had talked about it. I wished my parents had been honest about such things. When I had my period (the 1st day of summer when I was 11) I thought I was dying. I do think the title is a bit over the top. Surprised yes....Horrified NO!

9:29AM PDT on Oct 10, 2012

so, allegedly my posts were to adult and offensive.

again, when some of us are saying Porn, and I see comments of "children are curious about bodies, there is nothing wrong with naked pictures", I am still asking, "what kind of porn are we talking about"

why can the artical talk about finding your 13 year son masturbating "to porn" and if I say "or 13 year old daughter, while looking at something, (then say something tasteless)

7:28PM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

I think the whole subject is ridiculous. Boys are going to be boys and to make a big deal out of masturbation can harm them for life. At that age it is normal for a boy to experiment sexually and every father knows this. Sorry Moms! The point being sit down and tell you child that what he is doing is not a bad thing but something he should not focus his attention on. Teach him that real, loving relationships with another person is what it is all about. And, if the father comes home and finds his son watching gay porn he should handle it in the same way. What is the real difference? I wish someone had had a talk with me as a kid and made me realize that there is no harm done. Instead I was taught by the Catholic church that I was going to burn in hell and so for years I carried around all this guilt. So silly yet so normal.

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