• October 10, 2013

It’s easy to assume the stats about pornography do not apply to our families. While we would like to say the statistics which numerous agencies have provided are grossly inaccurate, sadly the testimony of teachers and counselors alike not only confirm the pornography epidemic is devastating our students, but provides sobering insight into just how deeply corrupting pornography is in the lives of children. We interviewed three local educators to get their insights on how pornography is affecting their students. Here’s what they had to say:

Question: Have you ever dealt with porn use in the classroom?

Teacher: Pornography use in the classroom is very rare. Students typically do not use their iPads to visit any explicit content. The real problem arises from personal technology, specifically smartphones and laptops. Students know how to get to pornography through social media and other apps that most adults would not think offer adult material (Tumblr, Stumbleupon, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.) The most devastating instances, though, involve sexting. On a yearly basis dozens of students are turned in by parents or other students after personal sexual photos are found on their school iPads. An even greater problem educators face is when these photos go viral. In the last three years, 3 girls have sent nude photos to boys, which were then widely distributed to classmates. Perhaps more frightening, this humiliating popularity is only rarely discovered by adults. For every few cases administrators are aware of, dozens more exist that are never discovered, especially in high school.

Question: In your opinion as an educator, how does exposure to pornography effect student growth/development?

Teachers: In general, technology stunts their social growth. Our school had to implement a “no iPad” policy during lunch because students were consumed in the latest games or apps and were not socializing or even eating lunch. This obsession is particularly prominent among higher income families, and most obvious in wealthy male students.

In terms of healthy sexual development, sexuality has lost its intimacy and meaning. Girls are much more likely to send lewd photos because the fear of rejection is significantly reduced. For girls, sex has been separated from intimacy and we often see them objectifying themselves through sexting and engaging in sexual activity even before their teenage years. Additionally, as teachers, we can often tell which students are more frequently exposed to pornography. In middle school boys we have seen a drastic increase in male students pressuring others into sexual activity and even an increase in profane language and joking. Last year an 8th grade boy pressured a classmate into having sex with him in the woods behind our campus. He got the idea from a pornographic video he saw online.

For girls, we see them objectifying themselves a lot more frequently. Bikini pictures and suggestive photos are very common on our students’ Facebook pages. From a relationship standpoint, girls are becoming more used to relationships that only exist electronically through texting and email. Socially speaking, boys frequently break up with their girlfriend through text messaging now, and the girls are okay with that method. Technology has blunted the emotional trauma of ending relationships. Sexually, we are becoming more aware of students engaging in sex at earlier ages.  Children are becoming hyper-sexualized at earlier ages and it is because pornography functions as a gateway for premature, and sometimes violent, sexual behavior.

Question: Do you think school security measures are effective?

Teachers: For filtering internet content while students are on campus – usually. When students are offsite – not necessarily.

Question: What is the difference? Why does location matter?

Teachers: The school filters all internet searches when the students are logged into their on-site internet server through their school issued iPad.  If a student tries to access pornography here, then they are immediately blocked and an administrator disciplines the student. When students are offsite, however, they don’t have to go through our server. They may still get blocked, but no follow up occurs. Onsite, the biggest entry point though is not internet pornography, but apps that parents and educators would not think of as access points. Websites like YouTube and apps like Instagram and Twitter are filled with filthy material. All students have to do is search in these social media apps and they can get to them. At school and home another prominent danger is personal technology, smartphones in particular. The district can only monitor school distributed iPads so we don’t have any control over other access points like iPhones and Androids. Students are also more brazen about using their school-issued iPads for porn over the summer since they know the school will probably not follow up over breaks.

Question: What advice can you offer parents who want to protect their children?

Teachers: Be honest and proactive. Understand that if your student is in middle school they have probably already seen pornography and they need guidance. Do not be naive or assume it cannot happen to you. We had one mother come to us after she found porn on her son’s iPad. She was irate and adamant in saying, “I think my son’s friend put porn on his iPad.”   As parents we have to forget about maintaining the perfect family image. We cannot be naive and we cannot let our children drown in porn because we want to maintain a certain polished image.

On top of being aware, we really need parents to be proactive in parenting. 60% of parents we surveyed believed iPads to be beneficial to their child’s education. However, many parents have complained about how much their kids use their iPads. We have all started to think technology is a right and not a privilege. We encourage parents to limit their kids’ tech use at home and even take away their school iPads or personal smartphones if needed. Parents can turn in their school iPads at anytime without affecting their children’s education.  We are set up to work around students who don’t want to use the iPads. Also, we challenge parents to ask if their kids really need a cell phone. Between 6th and 7th grade we see a marked increase in students with cell phones, specifically smartphones. During that time frame we also see a big change in sexual and social behavior, as pornography exposure intensifies leading to more inappropriate social and sexual behavior.

Post Series: ProTECHtion