Experts welcome the discourse created following the exposure of Billie Eilish
Singer Billie Eilish’s courageous sharing of the mental difficulties she experienced as a result of exposure to porn at a young age, continues to resonate. Educators, pediatricians and psychologists are responding, and what is already clear is that Eilish’s story underscores the need to change attitudes about education, sex, relationships and consent, even at an early age.The singer shared in an interview on Broadcaster Howard Stern’s show that she was exposed to violent pornographic content from the age of 11, which caused her nightmares, mental problems and difficulties in having sex. Eilish described that the experience led her to “say no to bad things” when she began having sex, as she thought that was what she was supposed to be attracted to. “I think it really ruined my brain,” she said.

The importance of the interview with the singer lies first and foremost in its very existence. We often have the belief that if we do not talk about something it will not happen, but the reality is that any attempt to ignore and repress emotional and charged content below the surface, causes a much more complex confrontation later on. Or in other words, lack of exposure to healthy sexuality at eye level at a young age, can lead to severe sexual difficulties at an older age and even more severe violent consequences.

“Healthy sexual interactions require negotiation, consent, honesty, self-control and respect” | Photo: istockphoto

Is age 11 a normative age to watch porn?

Statistics on the age at which children are first exposed to pornographic content, and the speed with which pornography becomes normative, necessitate a fundamental change in attitude and especially in the accessibility of “healthy sexuality” by parents and educators to the younger generation. A 2017 survey of about 1,000 young people and children in the UK indicated that 28% of 11-12 year olds watched porn, and 65% of 15-16 year olds.

In 2019, the British Film Classification Commission commissioned a survey showing that 51% of 11- to 13-year-olds were exposed to computer porn. In most cases it was accidental, and for many young children it was even traumatic. The study also revealed knowledge gaps between parents and children – only 25% of parents surveyed thought their child had seen pornography online, compared to 63% of children who actually saw it.

Sexual counseling in the ultra-Orthodox public: what characterizes it and what sets it apart?

“Talk early and talk often”

The immediate availability and accessibility of the content, difficult and violent as it may be, causes children not only to be exposed to porn at much younger ages than in the past, but also to see more and more graphic content without any supervision. And it has a price. Research Since 2012 it has shown that adolescents who viewed violent graphic pornography were six times more likely to be sexually aggressive than those who were not exposed.

The Children’s Commissioner for Women, Dam Rachel de Souza, last week called on parents to ‘talk early and talk often’ with children about pornography and sexual harassment. She admitted the conversation might be difficult, but advised parents and caregivers: “Create the culture before the crisis. Children want to talk to their parents and their caregivers about it. We know this because they told us,” she said.

How do we talk about healthy sexuality with our adolescent children?

A Girl Under a Blanket with a Cell Phone (Illustration: By Dafna A.meron, shutterstock)
Illustration: By Dafna A.meron, shutterstock

Reality begins off-screen

Young people often turn to pornography, due to a lack of sufficient information in schools. Millie Rotman, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at Boston University and professor of pediatrics and medicine, said Eilish’s comments serve as a wake-up call for parents and adults to play a more active role in children’s lives.

“Conducting a conversation with teens about what they’ve seen, when, where and how many times, can be very helpful in trying to prevent future incidents and answering their questions,” said Rotman, who provided violence counseling to the U.S. Department of Public Health.

“Teens watch hardcore pornography and think it’s real life, laying the groundwork for distorted reality and related problems down the road,” explained David Lee, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lee added that the real disconnect is actually influenced by what porn does not present. “Healthy sexual interactions require negotiation, consent, honesty, self-control and respect,” he said. “Most porn content skips all of this. And without proper explanation, children will not understand how important all of these issues are to healthy sexual relationships.”

Early exposure leads to sexual security

The data show that early exposure to the subject ensures higher awareness and leads to at least cases of sexual violence. While official sex education in the United States begins only in middle school, other states begin teaching children about it at a younger age. In the Netherlands, sex education begins to be taught from the age of 4, and the results speak for themselves – much lower rates of pregnancy among teenagers, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual assault.

By Editor

Leave a Reply