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Who is Teaching Your Teen About Sex—You or the Internet?

According to Samantha Wechsler, executive director of Culture Reframed, chances are your tween or teen has seen their fair share of porn. To address the “public health crisis of the digital age” and avoid handing over kids’ sex education to the porn industry, Wechsler explains the culture that teens are immersed in and shares what parents can do.

Here are a few key points from her interview:

The Culture We Live In: A Public Health Crisis

We live in a “pornified” culture. In the grocery store, magazines like GQ and Cosmo can be seen with sexually suggestive images. Being exposed to porn also has nothing to do with whether a kid is good or bad; the porn industry targets teens, one reason why this public health crisis exists.

At the same time, there is a “parental naïveté gap.” A study revealed that only half of parents whose kids had seen porn actually thought their kids had. Most parents feel that their kids are not watching porn, but studies show that boys are usually exposed between the ages of 10-12.

What Parents Can Do

Parents can help be part of the conversations with their kids to build resilience and resistance to hyper-sexualized media and pornography. Since these images are so prevalent, it’s not realistic to ask parents to prevent their kids from seeing pornography.

Instead, Culture Reframed works to educate parents on how to help their kids realize the harm of pornography. It’s never too early, or too late, to discuss porn and its effects with your child. And it’s not just having one conversation, but continually discussing it over time. Parents can start by saying, “I just learned about the effects of porn. I’d like to know what you know about it and what your experience has been.

Our website (culturereframed.org) also has further conversation scripts as well as a program for parents to help them be ready for what they might hear from their kid. Most importantly, it is better to try and do it poorly than to not do it at all. After all, parents don’t want their kids to learn sex education from watching porn.

Marilyn Gurrola

Marilyn Gurrola is a rising sophomore at Case Western Reserve University majoring in business management with a focus in healthcare management. She is interested in learning about immigrant injustices and pursuing a career in solving public health issues.

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