10 Things to Do When You Discover A Boy Is Looking At Porn

Parents and youth workers should assume and hope for the best regarding the middle school boys they serve. However, I have seen enough young men stumble into a pornography addiction to know that even the best-behaved boys from the best homes can get caught up in it.

Photo Courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/BlueSkyImages

There is much to be said about teenage boys and pornography. However, in this post I would like to focus on the following 10 ways to help when you find out a middle school boy under your care is struggling with pornography:

  1. No matter how a boy’s porn struggle is discovered, whether by his own admittance or if he is caught in the act, know that he is most likely dealing with intense feelings of guilt, shame, confusion, and embarrassment. Be sensitive to those feelings of his as you move through the conversation.
  2. Determine that your goal is to end the immediate conversation with your relationship with the boy intact.
  3. When you first find out, remain calm. Your first reaction might be one of surprise or anger, and he is most likely expecting you to lash out with one of those emotions. But what he needs at that moment is a calm, clear-thinking adult presence.
  4. If you find out because he has come to you and admitted his wrongdoing on his own volition, affirm his courage for telling you. Being transparent takes guts for anyone at any age!
  5. Use the moment as an opportunity to affirm his sexuality. Tell him it’s good and normal to have sexual feelings. It’s how God made us! At the same time you should also point out how pornography takes those good desires and twists them into something harmful and destructive.
  6. Don’t pepper him with questions. Just ask enough to get the basics. The details will come out in later conversations. This is not a cross-examination.
  7. If you are not the boy’s parent tell him that his parents need to know about his pornography struggle. Give him some options: He can either tell his parents himself, you can go with him to tell his parents, or you can tell his parents yourself.
  8. Help him come up with a “next-steps” action plan. Talk about options for setting up protection software, getting rid of his phone or computer for a while, or finding an accountability partner.
  9. Tell him, “Whenever I see you after this conversation, I want you to know I’m not going to think about this. I know this is not the real you.” He needs to know his struggle with pornography does not define him or your perspective of him.
  10. End the conversation by saying “I love you,” and give him a hug if it looks like he needs it.

This initial conversation will probably be only the beginning of a journey hopefully toward freedom, forgiveness, and healing. As difficult as such conversations are, there is a silver lining to finding out a middle school boy is looking at porn: He can deal with it at a relatively young age. It’s easier for him to work through a porn struggle as a 12, 13, or 14 year-old than as a high school or college student who may have been struggling with porn for more than a few years.

As parents and youth workers we have the responsibility and privilege to come alongside boys, show unconditional love, and support them in their path to purity.