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 home school 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 home schooled 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
The title of your article and the underlying tone indicates a presumption that parents with children in private or home schools are not educating their children about sexuality, pornography, etc…
Even if you have these preconceived notions, your address would be more effective if you left them out completely. Your title is misleading.
I will confess that my title was chosen in order to get attention and encourage people to read. I am not trying to mislead but to get more parents educated.
My experience is that parents of private or home schooled kids do not have a higher rate of talking to their kids than parents who send kids to public schools. If they did, there would be no issue. I do know parents of private/home school kids who do an excellent job talking to their kids. Sadly, I know a lot more who do not, and the results have not been good for their kids. The point is not what kind of school we choose for our kids, but that we must talk to our kids about healthy sexuality and intimacy either way.
Concerning the therapist’s remark: it’s also worth it to consider that maybe by the public school crowd porn is considered more normal, and therapy is less widely sought than by parents in private schools. Perhaps those who were seeking to protect their children by sending them to private school are more aware that there is something worth trying to protect from, and are more likely to seek help when they discover porn use. That could explain why the therapist SEES more problems. The anecdotal evidence provided here doesn’t indicate that there ARE more problems, just more seeking help for the problems.
Sara, you’re so right: correlation is not causation! Broader statistics would indicate that the porn problem is pretty much universal at this point. Here’s the CE stats pack, updated in February 2015.
Your point is well taken. However, I network with a number of therapists across the nation and all of them say pretty much the same thing. That still does not prove that one set of parents does a better or worse job talking to their kids. Still, I have too many parents coming to me for help after discovering their child’s pornography use and the parent has not talked to their child because they thought they were in a protected environment. This is a real problem, no matter what the actual statistics happen to be.
I do think more parents are beginning to talk with their kids. I have hope. But we still have a long way to go as a society.
You said that, “school choices appear to make little difference when it comes to our children being exposed to pornography”. I would agree.
Our oldest daughter just started school yesterday for the first time- kindergarten. For myself, I grew up in a public school system with most of my friends going to a private Christian school. I can tell you that I don’t think it made a difference in the decisions most young people make. Only one of my friends was busted for drugs- he went to a private school. I would say this- it seemed that many of the parents of kids that went to Christian schools were less concerned about decisions their children made. I think they basically assumed that the school was positive enough influence that everything was ok. As we now know, it wasn’t
I always thought I would send my girls to a public school. However, things can change over time. So when the time came for my child to go to school, my wife and I discussed this decision and chose a private Christian school. It seemed to be best considering some of the things now coming in public schools from the state. However, I fully intend to stay in my daughter’s life and not think that since they go to a private school that all is well. I certainly don’t want to make the same mistake I saw firsthand.
Thanks for the article. Parents of Christian school children should beware just as anybody else.
The reality is that being ultra prudish and not realistic about life and relationships will do more harm than you can imagine. It will completely derail a persons life. That is the reality.
We also just want some fairy tale existence on this planet that I promise you does not exist and no amount of sheltering you kids will change this. In fact, sheltering them will only lead to major disappointment and disillusionment.
My dad was a Christian private school high school teacher and principal simultaneously for about 4 years, I was his student (that was fun) and I recommend you homeschool your kids, because the tares within the wheat can have a bad influence, two youths made out in a bus, one of a graduates had sex before marriage (she wasn’t even going to marry the guy, she decided to sleep with him and…) and got pregnant, one of the students in school came “out of the closet” years later, one formed a rock group ect.
Don’t get me wrong, plenty of good kids came out of the school, one is serving in the air force, smart kid 3 that I know of became youth pastors, one is a pastor, one died while saving 2 of his friends on a missions trip.
So good kids came out of it, but filthy language, bad movies, some attire rubbed off on some Christians and it has affected them, so if you can homeschool your kids.
I grew up in a home where I was taught to bounce my eyes. I was first exposed to porn when I was 8 or 9, but I bounced my eyes. I got addicted to porn when I was 14 and it had nothing to do with my early exposure to porn.
All my life the media has told me that sex is only about pleasure. When I was old enough for the church to tell me about sex all I ever heard from them was that sex was about pleasure and to reserve it for marriage. This meshed so well with what the world said for me it was inevitable that I got addicted to porn. When I was 26 or so someone gave me the book “The Crooked Stick” by marcie aiken. In her book she said that God made sex to bring two people closer than anything else could. It opened my eyes and really opened the door for me to step away from porn. God’s word constantly describes sex as knowing one another. I believe if I grew up hearing about the bond sex makes instead of how great, fun, pleasurable, awesome it is I would never have gotten addicted to porn.
To get out of my porn addiction I had to really learn and practice all forms of intimacy outside of sex. I am a single guy, a virgin, but intimacy is so much more than just sex. I didnt learn this until I started my no fap journey.
Could it be possible to change the sex conversation with young people to a conversation about intimacy where sex is a small part of intimacy only found in marriage.