How to Have Tough Conversations With Students About Porn

How to Have Tough Conversations With Students About Porn

Talking about porn is awkward and difficult. It is an uncomfortable conversation, and is usually a very taboo topic in the church. But, it is an INCREDIBLY necessary conversation to have and be able to navigate well.

Studies disagree on the age most students first look at porn, some studies say age 11, while others say as early as age 8. Between the ages of 18-30 years old 79 percent of men and 76 percent of women say they look at porn at least once a month. That is only 3 percent less women than men, this is not just a guys issue folks, it affects all of our students. Studies show that 90 percent of teens are either encouraging, accepting or neutral when they talk to friends about porn. That means that only 1 out of 10 students sees something wrong with viewing pornography.

We see from the above statistics that the issue is widespread, but the reason it is an issue is because pornography is destructive.

It is destructive to the mind – Studies show viewing porn correlates with depression, anxiety, stress and social problems.

It is destructive to the heart – Sexual tastes and desires are skewed, people easily become disengaged with real life, and unable to connect in relationships.

It is destructive physiologically – There is a lot of overlap with the “destructive to the heart” point above. But basically porn has the potential to destroy future intimacy and ability to perform sexually.

It is destructive to the world – The DOJ and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children both recognize that porn is an element adding to the serious problem of sex trafficking.

(**statistics and information from Fight The New Drug, and Covenant Eyes)

We all agree that porn is a serous issue that needs to be dealt with. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we, or our leaders, know how to have the conversation with students about porn. Often when the topic comes up, it is not dealt with. However, I am constantly running into adults who desperately wish it had been talked about when they were students in youth group instead of pushed aside or avoided. The hurt, shame, struggle and many instances of falling so very hard that could have been helped if youth workers were able to have that awkward conversation.

So, how do you have the convo?

Having the Convo…

1. Don’t sweep it under the rug

It is so easy to just dismiss the topic of porn when it comes up in your group. It is easy to sweep it under the rug, say you will talk about it later, or give a superficial answer just to avoid the awkward. But do not avoid it! Address it and allow for open conversation around the topic so students will feel comfortable sharing.

2. Be real and authentic

Don’t act like the issue of porn and lust is just a hypothetical. Be real with the students you are having a conversation with. Don’t act like you are perfect, that won’t connect with anyone. C.S. Lewis says it best, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’”

3. Seek healing

When the conversation about porn is opened, point the convo toward healing, restoration and getting help. Don’t just acknowledge that it is a problem, help students get help and healing. Students need to know it is OK for them to be where they are, but it is not OK to stay there.

Walking With Students After the Convo…

1. Address the root

Deal with the heart of the issue, not just the action. If you are able to get a student to stop looking at porn for a week that is great, but if all you do is stop the action for a week, the next week they will make up for lost time. The act of looking at porn is only the fruit hanging on the tree. Even if you pull all the fruit off, the tree is still alive. It’s not an issue of action, it’s an issue of the heart.

Point your students to Jesus, He is the only one who has the ability to heal a heart. You cannot heal your student’s heart; your lead pastor cannot do it, their parents cannot do it, Jesus is the only one who can. Point them to Jesus and address the root of the issue, their heart.

2. Take steps to healing

One conversation will not be enough to help students break through the issue and addiction of pornography—it is a process. This process involves…

-Accountability

Be there for them, set them up with someone else who will be there for them, have the whole small group check in with one another, find ways to keep them accountable. If possible and the situation allows, get parents involved in helping keep their student accountable. They cannot do life alone.

-Resources

Utilize the resources available, apps, websites, books, etc. to help students and continue to equip yourself and your leaders.

3. Be present and consistent

Check up on that student/all of your students regularly. Your students need consistency and to know you aren’t going anywhere. Again, one conversation will not fix the problem, it is a problem that never goes away! Be present and consistent in their lives.

Also, know that relapses happen. Students will continue to fall into temptation and look at porn, and when they do, don’t be mad at them, allow your heart to break with them and for them. They don’t need your condemnation, they need compassion and someone who will continue to walk with them.

We all know it is a very, very difficult conversation, but it is a very necessary one. My encouragement to you and your leader is to not run from this issue, but to run to it in order to help your students through it. If you would like more help on this topic email [email protected]

This article originally appeared here.

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Todd Jones
Todd has been in youth ministry for over a decade and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter, Instagram or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com.

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