Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Pornography Epidemic

I recently read an article by Wendy Maltz, LCSW ("Out of the Shadows: What's The Prevalence of Porn Doing To Our Psyches?" ("Psychotherapy Networker," November/December 2009). Mrs. Maltz quotes a 2004 Columbia University study revealing that 45% of teens admit to having friends who regularly view or download porn; a 2009 Harris Interactive Survey showing 19% of teens sexting; and 2009 data by the CDC identifying the age of 1st sexual encounters falling while teen-pregnancy and teen sexually transmitted disease rates increasing.

There is a widespread practice of sexual acting out in preteens and teens, boys and girls alike. I see the worried faces of parents' in my LA based psychotherapy practice who ask me what they should do after they have read their child's IM or Text Messages, or have had a conversation confirming their child's participation in risky sexual behavior.

Parents, it is important to establish a deep emotional connection with your child and one that starts early in his/her life. Dads, your presence in challenging this social assault is vital; especially if you have a daughter. Daughters' who seem to grow up with a long-standing belief that they are not understood by their parents' are too often positioned to use sex and porn as a way of validating themselves and filling an emotional void. It seems like parents become aware of their child's interest in porn or sex and then feel compelled to act. This puts parents way behind the curve with a road to offering protection that is long; often too long to make and filled with anxiety and trepidation.