Q: I have 6 grown children and then adopted a 7 year old from the Philippines. She is now 12. I have a serious problem that I have never had with my other children. Starting when she was 8, I caught her looking at porn on the computer. I have tried everything to stop her–taken away the computer, watching her like a hawk, punish her, etc., but every time she gets on the computer, I check the history and she’s back to viewing porn. She’s now 12, and I just caught her doing it again, this time from my phone. What do I do? Nothing I have tried worked and she makes me think at 12 she is starting to be addicted to porn. I need your help, please.
A: I am not a psychologist or therapist so I can only give you my opinion as a mom. First, I think today’s parents face more of an issue with our children and porn than previous generations because of the internet. It used to be harder to access, so less of a problem. However, in your case, I too would be worried. I think 8 is young to be interested in sexual images. It also sounds like your daughter’s interest is beyond natural curiosity since it seems she is obsessed with finding these images despite your best effort to prevent her.
The sad reality is that sexual abuse is not uncommon in older children available for adoption because they did not have a parent to protect them from the evil that exists in this world—including pedophiles. It is also not uncommon for pedophiles to gravitate to places where children are vulnerable, and children in orphanages are certainly the most vulnerable. I am worried that your daughter may have been sexually abused prior to her adoption. This is nothing to panic over, and it does not mean she is damaged beyond repair, but it does mean that you need to immediately get her help with a therapist that has experience with victims of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is so damaging and confusing for children, and if your daughter was abused in this way, she needs help understanding and processing this abuse. Contact your local Department. of Family Services (or whatever the agency is called in your state that works with foster children) and ask what therapist they would recommend.Image credit: GatesFoundation