High School Student Opens Up About Porn in His School

Normal.

When I sat down to talk with 16-year-old high school junior Sam about his exposure to pornography in public schools, the first word he used to describe it was “normal.”

Sam was homeschooled through elementary and middle school, so when he started attending public high school as a sophomore, his eyes were opened to the true effects of pornography on his peers. At first, he said, kids didn’t really talk to him about porn. He was the “new guy,” so the other students were more reserved and polite around him.

But, being the outgoing teenage boy that he is, it didn’t take long for Sam to be accepted into various friend groups. And when he was, pornography and sex were talked about as if they were something simple like the weather or time of day. The first time Sam saw porn at school was in the middle of class. They had a substitute teacher that day, and someone started passing around their phone with porn on it. Students laughed as they saw the picture, as if it were funny to look at porn in the middle of the school day.

The more kids that got to know Sam, the more open they were to him about their porn-watching habits. Sam remembers a bunch of guys teasing a peer because someone walked in on this person watching porn. They even went as far as to capture it on Snapchat and send it to other friends. Humiliating to the porn-viewer, but hilarious to his friends.

Speaking of Snapchat, Sam says that it’s everything in school. He told me, “I know of a Snapchat group chat of guys who post only nudes they’ve received from girls. That’s led to a ton of problems. Girls get so upset when they find out a guy has sent her nudes to other guys.”

Yes, you read that right.

Sexting is rampant in public schools (and illegal!), and Sam says that sexting has had the most direct, visible affect on friendships and relationships among his peers. It tears people apart. Images that are supposed to be private are now circulated freely. There is no privacy left to the human body. “Have you seen this person’s nudes?” is an everyday statement at Sam’s school, and it causes endless drama.

Rather than dating, Sam says that “friends with benefits” is becoming the new term for relationships at his school. There are one-night stands and friends hooking up with the same people, but very few solid relationships. Like porn, sex is just as normal. In Sam’s friend groups, guys use sex as a way of one-upping each other. Sex and nudes are used as a tool for arrogance. Intimacy has lost every bit of beauty and privacy it was designed for.

I asked Sam if the students and peers at his school seem to have any morality left in them, because from my viewpoint, it seems as if they’re too far down the wrong road to bring back any of the innocence they once possessed. Sam said that for his guy friends, “They know deep down inside that it’s wrong. They wouldn’t hide it from their parents or teachers if they had no morals.”

They’re not addicted—yet.

Sam knows that if the sexting continues, it’s only a matter of time before many of these kids are addicted to porn. Some may already be, but they’re just ashamed to talk about it.

What is Sam’s high school doing to stop what is happening under their very own roof? Nothing, he says. Sure, they are strict about kids who use their phones during class, but no teacher, principal, or staff member is talking about porn and sexting in school. The only “sex talk” they’re having is during sex education class, when kids learn how to use condoms and practice “safe sex.”

Related: 5 Tech Questions to Ask Every School Principal

In the meantime, kids who stand up against porn are set apart as strange. They’re asked, “what’s wrong with you?” as if watching porn is the normal and wholesome thing to do. They’re left alone to follow their own rules, but the peer pressure eventually takes over.

My conversation with Sam left me feeling depressed and discouraged, to be quite honest. These kids are still living under their parents’ guidance, and they’re already THIS obsessed with porn and sex? I mean, they haven’t even made it to college yet, where the hookup lifestyle and porn addictions grow rampant at a rapid pace.

A Word to Parents

Parents, be vigilant. Before you hand your teenager a smartphone, read the statistics. Talk to your kids about what they are seeing at school on their peers’ phones. Talk to them about the damaging effects that pornography will have on their life. Talk to them about sex. It may seem awkward at first, I know, but these conversations will be so worth it.

Sam’s parents talk to him regularly about porn and sex. They are part of the reason why Sam was even open to talking to me about it. Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability monitors his devices and his father asks him frequently about what he is seeing on other friends’ devices.

But if sex is a normal topic of conversation among teens, why is it taboo among most adults? Why are parents and teachers remaining quiet?

If you’re not sure how to start these important conversations with your kids, I want to offer you three quick ways to encourage connection with your child, no matter how old they are.

  1. Engage. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day of one-on-one time, let your child know that you are there to spend time with them, and just them. They will feel even more loved and connected knowing that you have set aside to engage with them
  2. Welcome emotion. Children and teenagers show their feelings in different ways than adults. It is so important that they know that you still understand these emotions and encourage them to share them with you
  3. Set “no device” times. This might seem like the wrong way to encourage connection, at first. But when we actually take time to put our phones down, look our kids in the eyes, and engage with them on all levels, they will be less likely to feel isolated, and more likely to open up to you about their emotions and struggles.

If we want to raise up a generation that stands strong against pornography, we have to do the work. Porn is in our schools. It’s in our kids’ brains.

Will you join with us to save these kids’ minds and hearts?