ST. GEORGE – Parents looking for ways to protect their families from the damage of pornography are invited to attend a half-day conference Saturday at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George.
Presented by the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, the conference features more than half a dozen nationally renowned speakers who will address issues related to pornography use and addiction. Sessions for parents of small children and discussions on recovery for teens and couples will be held.
“It’s really about bringing the community together, parents, to talk about something that most people are uncomfortable talking about,” conference chair Geoff Steurer, LMFT, said. “We want to give parents words and tools and resources to be able to talk to their children and protect their families.”
Steurer, director of the LifeSTAR Program in St. George, will lead a breakout session on “Pornography and Dating” at the conference.
“The focus of the conference is more preventative than anything,” Steurer said. “I believe everybody at some point in their life is either going to be affected or know someone who’s affected by this issue. The more we understand about it, the more helpful we can be to our loved ones.”
Keynote speakers Lindsay and Lexie Kite, directors of Beauty Redefined, a national organization that studies body image as presented in mainstream media, will open the conference with a presentation on fighting objectification.
“(They) help create media literacy for men and women but they especially target women to help them to be able to decipher and challenge harmful media messages about women’s bodies,” Steurer said. “This isn’t just about hard-core pornography; this is about people coming to a conference like this and recognizing that there are harmful messages in mainstream media. Those things affect us more than we realize.”
Teaching parents the realities of online pornography and how to protect small children from harmful images is the topic of one session led by Kristen Jenson, M.A.
“I believe that parents have really been caught off guard,” Jenson said. “Technology has changed so quickly, and not only technology, but pornography; the nature of pornography has changed.”
Jenson, author of “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids,” said parents may be discounting how severe pornographic images are.
“The nature of pornography has become more extreme, more violent,” she said. “They don’t realize that kids can see all kinds of porn just on a Twitter account. There’s no block for Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, all these social media sites.”
Jenson will offer a five-step plan to inoculate kids against pornography.
“The best thing a parent can do is to start early and begin to persuade the child, teach the child, about the dangers of pornography addiction,” she said. “You need to teach them the skills that they will need to keep their brains free from pornography because it is a brain assault. They need to have a defense.”
Jenson will teach methods for getting the conversation started and discussing this difficult topic with small children in a comfortable way without actually talking about sex.
“I think a lot of people have kind of an understandable and natural hesitancy to want to come to a conference with this topic in mind,” Steurer said. “We want to make sure people understand what they’re going to. It’s a very uplifting and safe and empowering type of conference.”
- What: Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference: “Protecting Children and Families from Pornography”
- When: Saturday, Sept. 19 | Registration 8 a.m., program 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Where: Dixie Convention Center, 1835 S. Convention Center Drive, St. George
- Admission: Register online until Sept. 17 for $15; registration after Sept. 17 or at the door is $20
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