Why do some of us send our children to private Christian schools, or provide homeschooling, rather than use public schools? One of the reasons is to protect our children from negative influences. However, school choices appear to make little difference when it comes to our children being exposed to pornography.
I hear the stories from parent friends who discover their middle school child was exposed to pornography on a cell phone by friends while at a Christian school. Parents who discover their eight-year-old homeschool kid was exposed to graphic video porn by another eight-year-old while visiting another church member’s home.
Sadly, in today’s world, exposure is inevitable. That doesn’t have to mean one event will result in ongoing pornography use by our children, but it can lead to that when we are unwilling to educate our children. Uninformed children in private or home school are the ones in danger.
I was recently at a conference about parenting. My teenage son and a therapist were on a panel to answer questions about today’s youth culture. A parent in the audience asked my son, age 17 at the time, what differences he noticed in pornography use by teenagers who attended private Christian schools, were home schooled, or attended public school. My son responded, “I don’t see any difference at all. I have friends in all three categories who use pornography. Most kids are using lots of pornography, no matter where they go to school.”
The therapist, who specializes in working with children with sexual issues, confirmed my son’s observation by saying, “If anything, I see more issues with children who attend private school than those who attend public school.” That is not very encouraging. It is also a little confusing. But there is probably a reason behind this tendency, and in it a solution.
We may choose non-public school alternatives in order to surround our kids with children of families who share similar values. There is no danger in this strategy itself. However, if we assume that by doing so we no longer need to address pornography, monitor Internet use, and have ongoing conversations about healthy sexuality, we are then exposing our children to a very serious danger.
The danger occurs when we are lulled into thinking our children will not be exposed to sexual misinformation and pornography just because we don’t send them to public school. The danger lies in our faulty assumption that home or private schooling a child eliminates the need to have ongoing discussions and accountability in the area of sexuality.
Sending a child to private school or keeping them home tells him or her we are surrounding them with other people like our family. When we are silent on sexuality, and they see other children supposedly just like them looking at pornography, telling sexual jokes and so on, that can easily be interpreted as, “The kids my parents let me be around look at porn, and we’re supposed to be like them, so this must be what people like my family do.” Without guidance, we can’t blame our children for copying the behavior of those we put them around.
There is no danger in choosing what we believe is better for our children in the way of home or private school. Unless, that is, we ignore our responsibility to talk to our children about the dangerous things they will encounter in the world, including pornography—including at private school or among other homeschool kids.
Talking to our children about the unfortunate things people get into today should be natural conversation. It doesn’t have to be scary. It should never be shameful. There are some great resources to help parents know how to talk to kids about pornography—we don’t have to have all the answers up front. We just have to be willing to talk.
Let’s encourage each other as parents, no matter where we send our kids to school, to start having conversations with our kids about the realities of pornography, and ways we can keep from being drawn into it. We can start with help from these resources:
- Good Pictures, Bad Pictures by Kristen Jenson (for younger children)
- How to Talk to Your Kids about Pornography by Educate and Empower Kids (for older children)
- Father-Son Accountability: Integrity Through Relationship by John Fort & Lucas Fort
- Parenting the Internet Generation by Covenant Eyes
- When Your Child is Looking at Pornography by Covenant Eyes