Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Presexualization of Children; How to Protect Through Education (Part 1)

It has recently come to our attention that a child we know is showing an unusual interest in sexuality. This child is discussing sex in ways that a child their age should not understand and claims to have "seen movies about sex". While some may want to pass this behavior off as simple "child's play" or innocent, this behavior is incredibly troubling and is an incredibly strong indicator that this child has been "presexualized."

We thought it a timely blog topic to discuss as we have been aware of such potential threats to our boys and want to raise awareness with any reader in an attempt to know what presexualization is, how to prevent it, what to do if it has indeed occurred in your life or already in the life of your child. Then, in part 2, we hope this to flow into a discussion about the specifics involved in discussing healthy sexuality with our children. That seems to be one of the more intimidating tasks any parent faces and I would suggest that this is the case because far too few parents have a good grip on healthy sexuality. It's always difficult to explain and discuss issues with others that one doesn't understand. Let's see if we can develop some healthy opinions and move to better places in this area.

Presexualization refers to a person who has been presexualized in childhood. This can take the form of actual sexual abuse, but is often the more subtle form of the child being exposed to sex, sexual stimulation, pornography, etc.

Presexualization could be more simply stated as the introduction of sex or things of a sexual nature to a child that is not yet at a maturity level to appropriately label, understand and categorize the event and/or information. It is a form of sexual abuse that seems on the surface less damaging than physical acts of child molestation. Some consider presexualization as "passive sexual abuse" or "passive sexual trauma." That is to say that the child has not been physically assaulted in a sexual way but the effects (short and long term) can be identical to those who have experienced the physical molestation. 

As you think about presexualization and how it could have occurred in your life or in the life of your child remember that it does not always involve someone that intentionally exposes someone to sex. It could be, as was the case in my early childhood, finding pornography that had been discarded with trash in the woods. It could be, as also occurred in my life and in the lives of many people, stumbling upon porn videos late night on a movie channel. No one sought me out and nobody intentionally introduced sexuality into my life but it occurred just the same and such an unhealthy introduction to such an unhealthy and ungodly form or sexuality was damaging. 

If you were presexualized or even think you might have been I think it is vital for you to seek the advice and help of a professional. The professional may tell you that what you experienced was normal and you shouldn't worry about it. However, if a particular event or person comes to mind it is very much worth investigating your history. I personally think Steve and Pam Moore at The Moore Institute are great people to contact for this. They are personal friends of mine and we have worked together with more people than I could begin to count. You can learn more about them and even contact them HERE

If you have experienced presexualization and continue to see the effects of it in your sexuality, compulsive behaviors, addiction to sex and/or porn, relationships, etc. I think you would be well served to seek the help of a professional as mentioned above but also contact Route1520. Traylor Lovvorn and Tal Prince minister to the sexually broken and approach the issues, regardless of how seemingly disastrous or benign, from a place of personal experience. You won't find judgement or ridicule from these men or others in their groups. Information on Route1520 can be found HERE

So how do you protect your children from being introduced to sexuality in unhealthy ways and/or prematurely? There are so many ways in which presexualization can occur that the defensive measures have to be vast and varied. Computers, smart phones, print, neighbors, family members, teachers, clergy and even classmates can all have detrimental effects on our children through presexualization. Some great resources are available for defensive measures specific to electronic devices. The most recommended service to me personally has been Covenant Eyes. You can find their information here

When it comes to people in your life that may seem harmless but are in fact dangerous I think the videos found at this website say more than I could. For the record, this will be the only time I will ever suggest anyone watch Oprah. This video was touching and eye-opening and it came straight from the mouths of the men from who we all want to protect our kids.

OK, that's probably enough information to process for one night. The next post will deal with the next step in protection...educating our children. That means educating ourselves first.