The Atlantic

Talk to Your Kids About Porn

Many teens will be exposed to it anyway—often unintentionally—and they need the guidance of their parents to process what they’ve seen.
Source: David Papazian / Getty

This article was updated on August 29, 2018, at 6:53 pm

When I ask the students in my classes on pornography literacy and healthy relationships whether they’d tell their parents if and when they’d seen porn, they usually offer the same responses: No way! I’d be too scared; I feel ashamed; I’ll get in trouble.

These kids are between the ages of 10 and 18. Just how likely is it that they have been exposed to mainstream porn? In a new survey—forthcoming from Bryant Paul, an associate professor at Indiana University’s Media School, and Debby Herbenick, a professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health—39 percent of 14-year-olds report having seen porn, with about a third of young people saying they’d seen it for the first time at age 12 or younger. Paul’s survey also found that 81 percent of adolescents ages 14 to 18 who had seen pornographic material had been exposed to it unintentionally—either coming across

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