Innocence lost

Joey Garcia

I caught my 13-year-old son watching a video of a naked girl masturbating with a vibrator. She sent him the video. He told me they’ve texted a little but have never hung out or talked. (They go to different schools but have mutual friends.) He also said he didn’t know what the video was about until he started watching. (I checked his phone, and he was telling the truth.) Here’s the reason he says he’s not interested in her: “If she did that in front of me and I barely know her, how could I ever trust her?” I am worried because he hasn’t even had a girlfriend yet. I feel like his innocence is gone. I made him delete/block the girl. Do I need to do or say anything else to protect him?

I think you ought to feel proud of yourself for raising a smart teen. Your son is savvy enough to recognize that this girl’s amateur porn act could lead to heartbreak. He surmised that sex is primarily a transaction for her and decided not to succumb to her seduction. No matter what she hopes her sex show may bring—attention, stress release, admiration, love—he’s not playing along.

Your parenting skills have served you well and your son’s mature response is proof. But there is more work to do. Every adult is responsible for every child—not just those we have birthed or who branch directly from our family tree. We must all help every teen we encounter to navigate a path into a rewarding life. Yes, that means the girl who sent the video needs your protection, too.

Here’s some cultural history for context. In 2009, psychologist Laura Berman announced on Oprah that moms should buy vibrators for their 15-year-old daughters. Berman also said moms should teach their daughters to “self-stimulate so they don’t have to rely on a boy.” For months afterward, I heard from teen girls horrified by the gift of a vibrator from their mothers. But what neither Oprah nor Berman mentioned is that Berman had begun selling sex toys and teens were her new target market. A vibrator for every teen was not Berman’s rallying cry of feminism, and it was not her argument for sexual health. It was a sound bite to sell sex toys.

Only someone who doesn’t work with teens could believe that every high school freshman or sophomore girl needs a vibrator or that teaching self-pleasuring will eliminate teen pregnancy and STDs. (Yes, Berman went there.) But all teens can benefit from clear, honest information about their bodies and sexual health so they can make smart decisions about self-care. The girl in the video lacks this information. So contact a guidance counselor at her school and say: “My son received a video in which (her name here) was masturbating. I’m concerned about her and am requesting that you speak with her.” After a week or so, call the counselor again to ensure a conversation occurred. The content of that conversation is none of your business, of course, but making certain that it happens is.

Meditation of the week
“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and love comes with community,” wrote activist Dorothy Day. Are you making connections to those with whom you disagree?

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.