Parents are the first educators of their children, and many face struggles and concerns about keeping their children safe. One of the greatest threats to children’s safety is online pornography. With the widespread use of computers and smart phones today, pornography, sexting, and other dangerous practices are found everywhere.
Studies show that a large majority of children and teens spend more than 70 percent of their time attached to a screen or mobile device. These numbers are staggering and can lead to increased risk of behavioral issues that can result from early exposure to pornographic images, violent video games and social media overload. This exposure can shape attitudes, values, sexual inhibitions, and can lead to violent behavior.
These types of images and themes also lead to the attitude that sexuality can and should be whatever an individual deems it should be, even if in involves using – and abusing – another person for one’s own sexual gratification. The notion that pornography and the sex industry as a whole is a “victimless crime” is an evil one and has led to unimaginable suffering.
We encourage parents and all concerned adults to take a few minutes to view the video “A Safe Haven Begins at Home,” which has been produced by Catholic Mutual Insurance and Covenant Eyes. This 18-minute video will educate adults about the dangers of early exposure to porn and other unhealthy internet usage, how to set realistic computer and internet usage guidelines with young people, and establish open communication about these dangers.
The link to the video can be found on the diocesan webpage under the Safe Environment heading at the top of the webpage. Look for the title “Protecting Children from Pornography.”
There are many other resources available. Go to www.dads.org for a comprehensive listing of information for Catholics seeking help with pornography addiction, and other issues involving sexuality. We must educate ourselves about this issue, which is at the root of a whole host of sin and departure from a clean and holy approach to the gift of sexuality.
Colleen Sulsberger is coordinator of the Office of Safe Environment for the Diocese of Sioux City.