Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dangers of Pornography for Those with Disabilities....and Everyone Else!

In the words of Jeffrey R. Holland,

"Most days we all find ourselves assaulted by immoral messages of some kind flooding in on us from every angle. The darker sides of the movie, television, and music industry step further and further into offensive language and sexual misconduct. Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever. (Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul, April 2010 General Conference).

Exposure to pornography does significant damage to the brains of everyone who views it. The impact is far greater for those with disabilities, especially if they struggle with comprehension, impulsivity, or are primarily visual learners. Parents of students with cognitive struggles such as an intellectual disability, ADD/ADHD, or autism, need to be especially vigilant.

Everyone needs to take appropriate steps to ensure Internet access is safe in their homes. See the Internet Safety Handout created by the Church.

Give your children and teens a “gospel vaccination” by following the lessons provided in “A Parent’s Guide” to help them understand the importance of moral cleanliness and how they can remain in that state. Encouraging participation in seminary, youth programs, and Sunday School to reinforce what you've taught in the home.

Then you must teach your youngsters what to do if they are exposed. Unfortunately, seeing these terrible images is almost unavoidable in 2014. Take away the shame of accidental viewing by explaining that everyone runs the risk of a sighting, just as we all have hands that need washing at some point. They should stop the experience within 3 seconds by closing their eyes, turning off the device, leaving the room, or in other ways removing themselves. This should be followed by prayer and recalling the words of a favorite hymn or Primary song to reduce the chances that these images will be permanent.

If your child with a disability has been exposed, understand that the compulsion to return again and again to this type of content becomes an addiction. These compulsions will wash over them in waves similar to those felt by other types of addicts. Strong intervention is needed to treat this condition.

First, contact your bishop or branch president. You should also carefully review the information available at http://overcomingpornography.org. Recovery meetings may be available in your area for those over the age of 18, and other options have been provided for teens. See the documents in the “Internet Safety and Avoiding Pornography” section of ldsdisabilitieshelp.com for additional information.

 Pornography is a plague upon the land. Far too many parents don’t take the threat seriously enough, especially when the child has a cognitive disability. Follow the steps outlined above to protect your children before they become the latest victims of those who would ensnare them in the net of pornography.