If you leave it up to the internet to teach your young people then you know what you’re gonna get.
The New Zealand government have started up a website to give families and young people tools and strategies to develop ways to ‘keep it real online’.
It covers grooming, online bullying and pornography – the latter still the largest source of sex ‘education’ for young people today.
Porn builds false expectations of relationships, never addresses consent or appropriate conduct with someone you’re attracted to, diminishes respect, and provides a performance version of a deeply intimate and generous part of a loving relationship without the explanation or understanding of the rules of engagement of what they’re watching.
Thanks to the proliferation of porn and ease of access, young people are developing skewed understandings of what an intimate sexual relationship is, and it’s causing particularly younger boys to pressure their partners to replicate what they see online. There’s no understanding of consent, the physicality of the act and its impact, or that what they’re watching and trying to do is fake.
Having the sex talk with your young people can be awkward for all of you – it’s so, so important. Be prepared to listen (you may get an education in the process!). Helping your young people develop a strong understanding of their identity and finding their security in the love of God helps them value who they are and stand up for themselves should they be faced with the pressure to ‘perform’.
It’s also really important to grow those channels of communication with you or another trusted adult so that if your young person does need to talk to someone about something that happened to them they feel safe to do so.
Working with your young person as they find and develop their identity in Christ, secure their belonging within the love of God, and grow their purpose as being deeply committed to engaging in the mission of God prepares them for all life can throw at them, and it sets them up for an eternal life of love, grace and truth.
Molk is the Senior Field Officer (North), and responsible for young adult ministry as a part of the PULSE team.