Kerri Isham, a sexual health educator from Parksville, is warning parents about the dangers of letting children access pornography.
Isham, who owns Power Up, a company specializing in sexual health education workshops, warns of sexualized media, including the Internet, billboards, video games, television and pornography. Those influences, combined with a lack of parental supervision over what children are viewing and accessing is dangerous to children’s development, Isham said, fostering unhealthy attitudes. She said pornography eroticizes the degradation of women, can lead to sexual insecurity in boys and robs women of healthy body image that can lead to dissatisfaction in intimate relationships.
“Basically, porn is like a drug and it can lead to addiction,” Isham said. “It affects the same part of the brain that alcohol and drugs do when somebody becomes addicted.”
Isham said the largest group of viewers of pornography is children age 12 to 17.
“I have children as young as six years old accessing porn, sometimes intentionally and sometimes accidentally,” Isham said. “This is really because porn is so accessible – and it’s free to kids – that anybody’s child is at risk of seeing pornography. Whether they tell their parents or not is probably dependent on the type of family they have.”
Isham said it’s important to for parents and caregivers to have open dialogue early and often with their children about what they’re viewing and discuss openly the hidden negative messages in media, music, fashion, advertising and other sources.
Parents need to monitor what their kids are viewing and set limits on what they are allowed to view. Parents also need to educate themselves about what children are viewing, compare notes with other parents about how they monitor what their children are accessing and attend workshops that help parents understand trends in youth culture.
Isham, who said she has made educating people about pornography and its effects on children her mission, is presenting Six Conversations You Must Have With Your Teen at Beban Park Social Centre, Wednesday (Nov. 6) 6:30-8:30 p.m. Admission is $25 per person.
For more information, visit the Power-Up website at www.powerupworkshops.ca.