Child Produced Porn
Protecting our Kids from Themselves
Your eighth-grade daughter likes the new boy in school—and so does every other girl in her class. So how
does she get his attention? In a bold move, she snaps a picture of herself nude and sends it to his cell
phone. Within hours, her photo appears on a file-sharing network viewable by anyone.
Sound far-fetched? Think again. In a disturbing new trend, teens are producing and distributing pornographic
pictures and videos—of themselves.
No statistics are yet available on the prevalence of such occurrences, but the media has reported several
such incidents over the past few months. Since the subjects are underage, they can face prosecution for
distributing child pornography. Just the possession of such pictures on a cell phone or computer constitutes
a federal offense. Most of those involved don't realize the possible penalties for what they believe is a
They also don't consider the far-reaching and long-term consequences their actions will have when the
pictures appear on cell-phones and computers across the country—or around the world—sometimes for years
In one case, male students at a Georgia school shared pornographic images of themselves online and pressured
female students to email similar photos. According to a NetFamilyNews e-newsletter, many of the girls
suffered from low self-esteem and complied because they had crushes on the boys.
1 The pictures not only circulated throughout the school but traveled as
far as the United Kingdom.
While my heart breaks for these teens who act so foolishly, I believe there is much more at stake here than
a youth's gullibility or ignorance of the law. Young people who display nude pictures of themselves because
they feel pressured or because they want to capture someone's attention express a deeper problem than low
One factor in teens' inclination for such surprising conduct is the use of sex in movies, television, and
advertising that has slowly but steadily shaped their attitudes on what is permissible for public display.
Every day, they see sex exploited as entertainment or means of selling products. The sexual messages that
constantly bombard our teens often break down their natural inhibitions and can lead them to believe it is
alright to use their bodies to get what they want.
Peer pressure can also fuel uncharacteristic behavior. In talking with young people, I am amazed at the
demands placed upon them by other teens to be sexual. Whether or not this leads to their having sex, teens
often feel bullied into expressing themselves in provocative ways in order to prove they are not "weird."
I believe the root of the problem, however, is that kids who distribute pornographic images of themselves
are demonstrating unmet needs they try to fill through personal relationships. When those relationships
become more important than their own self respect, they will stoop to anything to prompt others to notice
them. Even Christian children can fall prey to this trap.
So how do we protect our kids from themselves? As parents, we bear the responsibility to counteract the
world's message by grounding our children in the knowledge of what God says about such actions. We can
- Their bodies are the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16) and members of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15).
- Paul cautioned women to be modest (Titus 2:9).
- Nudity often leads to lust and may have tragic consequences (the story of David and Bathsheba 2
We can also inoculate our children against the pressure to impress others by infusing them with the
knowledge that we cherish them and more importantly that God cherishes them (1 John 4:16-19). When we
spend time with our children, listen to their problems and fears, and demonstrate God's unconditional love
toward them on a daily basis, we will entice them to place their faith in a loving savior rather than in
peers whose attention they may seek through means they will later regret.
While the temptation to sexual sin has always been with us, advancing technology is adding more avenues to
such temptations. We must pray that our children will stand strong against the pressures they face. My heart
often echoes Paul's prayer for his beloved parishioners in Philippians 2:15-16: "That you may become
blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day
of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain."