Porn Proof Your Child

Porn Proof Your Child

What About R?
© 2008 Teresa Cook

Most Christians would agree that none of us, least of all children, should look at hardcore pornography. But what about R-rated movies? Are they harmful to kids? At what age should children be allowed to watch them?
Our sons occasionally endured ribbing while they were growing up because we didn’t let them see PG-13 movies even when they were older teens. I was often shocked by how many of our Christian friends allowed their children, some younger than ten, to watch not only PG-13 but R-rated movies. And much of today’s television programming is just as explicit as the R movies of a few years ago.

Parents often deny that what their children watch impacts their behavior. However, research reveals that sexualized programming, both verbal and visual, kindles passions that frequently result in kids acting on what they see. A 2004 study by the US National Institute of Child Health shows that teens who watch programs with a high level of sexual content are twice as likely to initiate intercourse over the next year. 1

Sadder still is the effect sexualized programming has on prepubescent children, who have no foundation for understanding sex. The story below makes the most powerful case that I’ve ever read against allowing children to watch R-rated movies:

My son, who is 10 years old now, goes to see his dad (my ex) every weekend. I have pleaded with his father to monitor what he is watching because I knew his father was much too lenient about such things. He told me not to worry, that he knew what he was doing. However, by the time my son was six years old he started coming home and telling me the names of the movies he had been watching. Most of them were R-rated.

His father and I fought many times over this, until finally my son was acting out what he had been exposed to over the years so my ex decided I was right.

Unfortunately it was too late; the damage was done. My poor son woke up screaming and crying in the middle of the night, and when I asked him what was wrong, he said, "Mommy, I can’t get sex out of my head . . . the movies I wasn’t supposed to watch keep coming back in my head."

My heart sank, tears welled in my eyes and I thought, "My God, what has he been exposed to?"

For the next three weeks he couldn’t sleep. He was afraid to close his eyes. He couldn’t go to school for a couple of days because he just couldn’t shake the thoughts. With all the misinformation and distortion the TV gives about sex, my poor son was in a totally confused state. Even though we had been slowly preparing him for the day and time with biblically based foundations on sex and how God feels, and how our purity before God is essential, he couldn't understand why we had been telling him one thing and the whole world had been showing him something else.

My son approached me one day with the saddest statement I think I have ever heard uttered from a child's mouth. He said, "Mom I just want to be a little boy again and play with my cars, and now I can't." The innocence of my child has been stolen. The little boy who loves to romp and play has already been scarred, by none other than adults. 2

So when is it okay to let your child watch R-rated movies and their counterparts on television? Is your 14-year-old mature enough, or should you wait until he is 16 or 18? Should we parents watch what is essentially softcore pornography?

Many porn addicts cite sexually explicit R-rated movies as a gateway to pornography addiction, for adults as well as children. These films desensitize viewers until even the most blatant sexual display loses shock value. In his book, I Surrender All, contemporary Christian singer Clay Crosse said moving from R-rated films to hardcore pornography was easy to rationalize because he and his wife had already seen so much sex and nudity in mainstream movies.3

In An Affair of the Mind, Laurie Hall described her husband’s gradual slide into sexual addiction. This Christian family man wouldn’t have dreamed of frequenting strip shows or prostitutes in the beginning, but looking at softcore pornography in magazines and R-rated movies blurred the lines until he could no longer judge what was appropriate and what was not.4 After reading this wife’s account, I found it hard to justify watching R-rated movies myself, much less exposing our children to them.

Children are vulnerable to sexually explicit material that breaks down their inhibitions and leads to the desire for harder material or to act out what they see. Why take the chance that R-rated films could lead them down that road?

What are your children watching?


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