“What should I do if I see pornography?” Help for Parents (2019)
“What should I do if I see pornography?” Help for Parents
“May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe, and if we must stand alone in the process, may we do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that in reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven” (Thomas S. Monson, “Dare to Stand Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 67).
“But [God] will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The information and entertainment provided through media can increase your ability to learn, communicate, and become a force for good in the world. However, some information and entertainment can lead you away from righteous living. Pornography in all forms is especially dangerous and addictive. Pornography is any material that depicts or describes the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses or is intended to arouse sexual feelings inappropriately. It is distributed through many media, including magazines, books, television, movies, music, and the internet.
What may begin as an unexpected exposure or a curious exploration can become a destructive habit. When an accidental exposure occurs, or even if you have viewed pornography more than once, your reaction will determine its future effect on you. In those situations, you need to do the following:
Call it what it is (i.e. pornography, immodesty, sexualized media, etc.).
Turn it off or turn away.
Talk to your parents.
When you are open about your encounters with pornography, you decrease the likelihood of returning to the damaging material. A great example of this pattern is Joseph of the Old Testament. When Potiphar’s wife tempted him to be sexually inappropriate, he recognized what she was trying to do, left immediately, and didn’t go back. When you immediately follow the promptings of the Spirit, you can protect your spirit and stay close to God. Talk to Heavenly Father and trusted family members about your experience and ask for strength.
The following scriptures and resources can help you deepen your knowledge of the doctrine related to this topic. As you study, consider ways to share the doctrine with your children.
Genesis 39:7–12 (Joseph resists the advances of Potiphar’s wife)
1 Corinthians 10:13 (There is always a way to escape giving in to temptation)
Conference talks and magazine articles:
Danielle Kennington, “Crash and Tell,” Friend, June 2011, 8–10; Liahona, June 2011, 64–66
Jeffrey R. Holland, “With So Many Bad Things around, How Can I Keep Good Thoughts in My Mind?” Friend, Nov. 2012, 6
Linda S. Reeves, “Protection from Pornography—a Christ-Focused Home,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 15–17
Neill F. Marriott, “Pure Hearts and Clean Bodies,” New Era, Mar. 2014, 28–29; Liahona, Mar. 2014, 50–51
Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 56–58
Sarah Chow, “Leaving Bad Behind,” Friend, Aug. 2012, 6–7
Thomas S. Monson, “Dare to Stand Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 60–67
Family Conversations: Talking about Healthy Sexuality, Mormon Channel, mormonchannel.org
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 145
“If the Savior Stood Beside Me,” New Era, Aug. 2007, 8–10
Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts (pamphlet, 2006)
A Parent’s Guide (1985)
“To Look Upon” (video, ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce the doctrine of responding to temptation.
Ask a member of your family to tell the story of Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 39:7–12).
Why did he run away? How can we run away when we come across pornographic material while watching or reading something?
Invite your family to think of all the places they might encounter sexualized media. For example, they might encounter pornographic material in television shows, movies, books, magazines, music, video games, text messages, or on the internet, mobile apps, and tablets. Discuss how they can protect themselves while using these resources. Discuss ways to respond if they accidentally encounter pornography. What questions do they have about responding to bad media?
Following the guidance of the Spirit, select one or more of the following activities that will work best for your family.
Read “Crash and Tell” or the story in Linda S. Reeves’s talk “Protection from Pornography—a Christ-Focused Home” (Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 15). What did the children in these stories do when they saw bad pictures? Whom did they talk to? How did talking to their parents help them?
Teach the pattern for responding to pornography listed above: Call it what it is, turn it off or turn away, and talk about your experience with your parents. You could ask your children to repeat the steps for an appropriate response to make sure that they understand how to act when they encounter something pornographic. You may want to use hand signals or actions to help them remember the steps.
Consider doing a pornography drill. Ask different members of the family to pretend to watch something on a computer, mobile phone, or television. Demonstrate the steps for how to react if they encounter pornography. Invite each family member to practice the steps.
Read together Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s article “With So Many Bad Things around, How Can I Keep Good Thoughts in My Mind?” What advice does Elder Holland give? How can we fill our minds with positive ideas? Ask each family member to draw or write a happy memory that he or she can think about in order to maintain pure thoughts.
Read or watch part of President Thomas S. Monson’s talk “Dare to Stand Alone.” Ask your children to come up with situations where they might encounter pornography at a friend’s house. Discuss how to respond in those situations.
Make a list with your family of all the situations where they might encounter pornography. Teach the pattern for how to respond to pornography: call it what it is, turn it off or turn away, and talk about your experience with your parents. Discuss how we would apply this response plan in some of the listed situations.
At the end of Sister Reeves’s talk “Protection from Pornography—a Christ-Focused Home,” she gives some suggestions for how youth can respond to pornography (17). Have a race to see who can find the most ways to respond in 30 seconds. Discuss how making the choice to turn away from pornography will invite the Spirit to return and help you feel the joy of obeying your Heavenly Father.
Watch the video below (“To Look Upon”). The Spirit will always prompt us to avoid looking at pornography or to look away when we accidentally encounter it. Talk about what happens when we do not follow the Spirit. Make a plan for how to respond in situations when we do encounter pornography, and consider establishing rules for your family to help prevent coming into contact with pornography.
Ask your family to share what they have learned. Do they have any additional questions about what to do if they encounter destructive media?
Invite each member of the family to make a personal action plan for what to do when he or she sees or reads something bad. Make sure your children understand that you are a team and that you will work together to protect your home from dangerous media. During the lesson, cultivate a safe and supportive environment so that your children know that they can come to you with any questions or concerns. Express your belief and confidence that your children can make good decisions.
Special appreciation to Kristen A. Jenson and Dr. Gail Poyner, authors of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids ©, for their assistance in the development of some of the concepts found in the “What Should I Do When I See Pornography?” video.