I hope this one got your attention. A statistic that has been flying across the news over the last few weeks is that 1 out of every 5 girls on college campuses is having to deal with sexual assault. There has been some dispute about under reporting, over reporting and just enough reporting by the girls, the colleges, the police, but whatever the statistic is, it is too high.
One of the biggest changes in our culture is that we have lost the progression of sexual activity based on normal adolescent development. It used to start with just a kiss. A simple kiss. I remember sitting with girlfriends after a saturday night date, and the question that was asked was: "Did he kiss you goodnight?" Now the question might be after a middle school trip to the mall: "Did you give him a blow job?" You've come a long way baby. Young teens are engaging in sexual activities they don't really understand, and are not ready for, and that set a stage for earlier and earlier sexual experiences.
So what is driving all this early sexual experience and sexual expectations? Here is where it gets interesting, and for me surprising. The experts talk about the influence of porn on boys. Did you know that the average age for a boy's first experience with porn is 11.5 years old? Because porn now is so easily accessible through the internet, boys contact with sex may only be through porn. This is their model for what to expect from a woman during sex. This is not taking a peek at a naked woman, after finding their dad's Playboy under the bed, this is watching graphic, possibly violent acts of degradation of woman during sex. "Oh so this is what you do" boys say. The experts reported that boys spent many hours watching porn. They are not embarrassed about it, there is no stigma about it, and they found that on many college campuses, boys sit in common areas in student unions in groups watching porn, as if it were a spectator sport like watching a basketball game. Porn is becoming for boys a "manuel to treat women as dehumanized people." This is really upsetting stuff whether you are a parent of a boy or a girl.
From watching degrading, violent and degrading porn to committing sexual assualt, is not a far reach.
Recently a parent shared a story with me about her 11 year old son's (just like the statistic above) iniatiation to porn. It seemed he was on a weekend ski trip with a community/church/temple/boy scout group. (don't know which one, but it doesn't really make a difference, take your pick) The group leaders had asked the parents not to let their teens bring their smartphones/ipads/itouches on the trip. Understandingly many parents felt uncomfortable leaving their kids with no way to communicate with them should they want to, and since so many kids have smartphones, smartphones went along for the trip. Apparently during the bus ride, a bunch of boys huddled around someone's phone to get in some good porn-time. After all, the bus ride was so bo--ring!!! This 11 year old was present, since these were his friends and he was sitting with them on the bus. Apparently the porn was pretty hard core and he tried moving his seat as the whole event was making him extremely uncomfortable. His supportive friends started calling him "pussy" and "gay", so he felt too embarrassed to leave the "circle jerk"
When he got home, and his parents were getting the lowdown on how the trip went, he broke down in tears describing this ordeal, saying the things these guys were doing to the girls in the porn was really really bad. This whole event made me really really sad. Remember the good old days of singing 100 bottles of beer on the wall on a bus trip. These images are burned into the retinas of this 11 year old.
When you give your teens unlimited access to the internet through smartphones and laptops,and IPads and iPods, and Itouches you increase the likelihood that porn becomes a regular source of sexual information. Parents this is important stuff. Our kids need help, information, education, and supervision. I know that this is uncomfortable to talk about, but kids need to learn that there are loving and respectful ways of enjoying sexual experiences. Who knew that now we have to talk with our kids about porn and the message it sends to both boys and girls about sex? But we do. We are way past the birds and the bees conversation.