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From the Director of Youth Outreach:
Hello patrons! My name is Hannah Adcock. I’m the Director of Youth Outreach at The Third Talk, and I’m 19 years old.
Education, for myself and others, has always been one of the most important factors in my life. I believe that access to education is essential; it’s an invaluable tool that bridges divides, promotes empathy, and empowers all members of our society. There is one topic in particular that I don’t think gets the discussion it deserves, and the more I observe, the more sure I am that this problem needs to be addressed: We need to start talking about how online pornography affects our youth now, and in their future.
10 years ago, I never would have imagined myself in this spot. Pornography and other types of provocative and degrading media were not something I thought about in my childhood, but throughout my life, they have become difficult to ignore. This media sends our society messages that we don’t even know we’re receiving: they tell us that beauty (if it conforms to societal standards) is the most important quality a person can have, that people are sex objects or prizes to be won with no consideration of choice or free will, and that sex is not a tool for connection but purely a contest of performance. Individual sexuality and exploration are not encouraged or even discussed. Communication and healthy boundaries are not recognized. This media wasn’t created to be a representation of the real world.
Adults have the maturity and life experience needed to filter through what we’re seeing. The majority of us know how to manage relationships, romantic and sexual, and have developed a strong relationship with ourselves that challenge standards placed on us by pornography and media. Our children, however, are most susceptible to these messages and in turn, they are the ones most negatively affected. When our children turn to pornography for sex education, their view of sex and relationships becomes dangerously skewed. As you may or may not be aware, the average age of exposure to this content is 12 years old, and children as young as 9 have admitted to regularly viewing pornography. At their most vulnerable and impressionable age, they see this media and it sticks with them for the rest of their lives.
Growing up, I was bombarded by these messages. I know from experience the self esteem issues that follow realizing that the standards are impossible. I know the disappointment that comes with feeling like platonic relationships can’t exist with the opposite gender. I know the frustration of navigating adolescent dating when sexualization is constant and sex is an expectation. I know how it feels to not feel valued in our society unless it involves sex. Dating and sex became a chore for me. My looks became my greatest asset. Our children deserve more.
We can’t rely on anyone else to have this conversation with our kids. It doesn’t happen in schools, it doesn’t happen in community groups, churches or even book clubs, but we CAN make this happen at home. At The Third Talk™, we believe communication and education are key factors in eliminating this problem for good, and changing the state of the world for our little ones and their future. For a long time, it felt like no one was addressing this problem or willing to listen. The Third Talk™ is dedicated to creating an open, safe space where honest dialogue happens, free of judgement or bias. I am dedicated to making sure every child grows up in a society where they feel respected, loved, and comfortable in their relationships.
There is a long road ahead of us but we are committed to change and I am extremely optimistic for what the future holds. Thank you for your support and we hope you will consider joining us as we face this challenge together!