What To Say When You Spot Your Child Viewing Pornography

“Be curious, but not furious”. That’s just one tip Dr. Liz Hale has for parents dealing with kids and pornography. It’s part of a solid, reassuring strategy to help parents handle this difficult situation.

Our society is over-saturated with sexual images. From billboards to commercials to grocery store check-out lanes, we are bombarded with blatant sexuality. The Internet and cable television allow unprecedented access to pornographic images to any and all viewers regardless of age, gender or intent. Today, we tackle the tough subject of what to do when your own child is spotted viewing pornography. Dr. Liz Hale to the rescue; you have brought to us today the 5 C’s that we can automatically rely on when faced with this difficult dilemma.

There are 5 C’s to commit to memory when creating safety in the face of a dangerous situation like pornographic viewing.


Remain calm and composed. Be curious not furious. Ask your child how they happened to land on that channel or website. Perhaps it was accidental, perhaps intentional; pay attention to their search inquiry to glean more information on what sexual subject your teen is curious about. Use a neutral, nonjudgmental tone, taking care not to lecture, yell, blame or shame them for their behavior or for hiding it. It is natural to be curious; images are often titillating – just what the pornographic industry is striving for! The average age of a child viewing pornography is 11!


When you as a parent are armed with an arsenal of accurate information and are clear about your own values, you will more likely be able to remain calm and cool because you are confident in your ability to inform and warn your child. When you appear confident your child will feel safe and secure.

Tell them that what they’ve just seen on the screen are dangerous images that can confuse and complicate relationships.

1) These images trick you into feeling false excitement and pleasure.
2) Viewing these images will negatively affect a healthy sexuality and future relationship.
3) These sites make you feel ashamed and isolated, causing you to view in secret.
4) These images mislead, confusing you on what’s normal sexual behavior.
5) These sexually exciting images can make you want more and more.


Share your values on sex; let your child know that you are the one person who will always tell them the truth. And if there is something you don’t know their answer to, you will find it through your own study and get back to them. Explain your desire for them to have the best in life; confidently express that you expect them to save this most amazing beautiful gift for marriage and provide for them key steps for achieving that goal. Your very willingness to discuss difficult subjects tells your child what you hold sacred and that you can be trusted.


In order to correct misinformation, parents need to get informed! Become an expert in the field of whatever dilemma your child is facing. Pornography is not educational; it is a fantasy played out in front of cameras. Actors and actresses are paid to do outrageous things as they pretend to enjoy it even if they are in pain or don’t like each other. It is a job. When you are in love, sex is something entirely different. Sex is beautiful and sacred. Porn is not. When women, and men, become dehumanized objects of gratification, true intimacy in a real life relationship may never be achieved.

Sexual curiosity is normal and healthy. Misinformation, however, can lead to disruption and obsession. The development of the adolescent brain is a time of great opportunity and of enormous risk. Although a 6-year-old’s brain is about 90% of its adult size, the pre-frontal cortex and the parts of the brain that manage executive decision making, is the last part of the brain to mature, usually into the mid-20’s. Teach your adolescent that together you can help mold their brain in healthy ways or destructive ways. Not many teens realize that when they view pornography, powerful biochemical reactions occur which is what makes it so alluring but dangerous! When sexual excitement occurs after viewing an image, the adrenal gland releases epinephrine into the blood stream. The chemical then travels to the brain and locks in the image. Over time, more explicit images are required to achieve the same exhilarating effect. That is the addictive, obsessional potential of pornography.

The adolescent brain is especially vulnerable. Be candid with your teen; help them choose between hard-wiring their brain for success or destruction. It is exciting to think that positive choice in activities during the adolescent years could contribute to improved brain development. Because the brain is more impressionable and more responsive than any other time in life, it is possible that greater effort in areas of interest may create a more competent individual. Brains could be hard-wired for sports, art, writing, music or mathematics�.or for laying on the couch in front of the television. (Studies have shown that practicing the piano thickens neurons in the areas of the brain that control the fingers.)


Continue to revisit the subject matter and collaborate on how you can protect yourselves and your family. Review various content filters; periodically review the computers history together; keep the computer out from behind closed doors so all can have access to it and its images. Share with your teen how you protect yourself against damaging images on the computer or in the media. As you’re in line at the grocery store, comment on the front covers of magazines; discuss the effects of airbrushing and the objectification of the body. How do they think it promotes unhealthy self- images?

Remember – the relationship you have with your child and their perception of you as trustworthy and reasonable is the most protective factor against all the dangers faced by teens today.