A new cartoon created by a graduate of BYU’s media arts program teaches children ages 6 to 12 to avoid pornography.
Brent Leavitt, the cartoon’s creator, said there are few sources like this that can explain such a sensitive subject to such a young audience.
“Without showing them what it is, it exposes kids to the idea that there are pictures and videos … they shouldn’t look at,” he said. “I don’t know of anything else out there that helps kids to understand what pornography is without directly encountering it.
The video, which is about 4 minutes long, was originally written by Nycole Larsen and published in The Friend magazine in 2004.
Leavitt said many of the donors for the video had family members that had been effected by pornography and they felt it was a worthwhile project.
Robert Jaramillo, from Provo, is the father of 5 and gave a donation for the creation of the video.
“This is tastefully done,” he said. “It’s on a child’s level and it can start the conversation. They get the idea of what to stay away from.”
Jaramillo said families should be using everything they can to combat pornography, and this is a great tool in that effort.
“It’s a great thing that … more [parents] are trying to talk openly with their families about these things rather than just hoping it doesn’t ever effect them,” he said. ” I think parents are afraid to talk to their kids about the hard stuff. We can talk to children about it without putting bad images in their minds.”
Jaramillo said he would absolutely recommend the video to other families.
Paul France, a licensed professional counselor at the Family Counseling Center, said while pornography use is becoming ever more prevalent, the problem is not well known.
“It’s very similar to where information on drug and alcohol addictions were several decades ago,” he said. “The number of people that are exposed to, participate, and are addicted to it is increasing. But it still remains a society secret.”
France said drug addictions and pornography addictions have similar effects.
“Pornography releases similar chemical cascades in the brain that a drug like meth or cocaine would,” he said. “The difficulty is that we can get rid of drugs but we can’t get rid of a person’s sexuality.”
According to France, open and direct conversations with youth can be a bulwark against future sexual addiction.
“It needs to be addressed in a forthright manner, not in a secret manner,” he said. “When we approach it that way, we take the fuel out from the fire of those addictions.”
Brannon Patrick, a licensed clinical social worker, works with teens with pornography addictions. Patrick said, from his experience, the average age of first pornography exposure is 9 years old. He said the reason for such early exposure is increasing accessibility.
“With computers and smartphones in the pocket, its likely that a child is going to come across it,” he said. “It does something to them, it sparks something inside of them that we all have naturally.”
Patrick said problems arise when young people feel ashamed. When children with no adult role model encounter pornography, they turn shame into addiction.
“They need to have an adult that they can go to that will educate them and be open with them about it, instead of making them feel more shameful,” he said. “Shame is what drives addiction.”
Patrick says educating children early, before they are exposed, and explaining how to handle it will prevent most future addiction problems.
The video is available for download at sunswingmedia.com for $1.