Hamish and the Shadow Secret is written to help parents, carers and teachers prepare and assist children to know what to do and how to recover from viewing explicit, harmful and inappropriate content.
Kids are seeing pornography accidentally or deliberately earlier than ever before. In 2008, 14.4% of boys had viewed porn by age 12 or younger. By 2014, this had risen to 48.7%. In 2019, research indicates that 65.5% of boys have seen pornography by age 12 or younger. For girls of the same age, 8.7% had viewed it in 2014, rising to 30% in 2019. Alarmingly, clinicians are reporting cases of children aged as young as five onwards receiving therapeutic interventions.
Developmentally, children have limited experiential and cognitive capacity to understand and interpret what they see. The way that children process pornography varies from child to child; however, reported feelings can range from curiosity, disgust, confusion, guilt and arousal. "I hated this, but I liked it". "I don't want to look at more, but I really want to look at more". "I think it's bad for me, but I don't really know why". Internal conflict without the knowledge of why porn is unhealthy, can quickly lead to children believing unhelpful sexual stories (scripts) about themselves and others, which are embedded in violence and inequality, shame and secrecy--unhealthy foundations for brain development and building positive relationships.
Additionally, there are a growing number of children who see pornography and then act out inappropriate behaviours on other children. This provides an even greater need for all children to have comprehensive protective behaviours education that includes online safety and an awareness of how to respond to pornography.
Hamish and the Shadow Secret is an educational resource for engaging children in a safe and robust conversation about the harms of pornography. Written for children aged 8-12-years, Hamish and the Shadow Secret is a valuable inclusion in every home, school and counselling setting.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND RESOURCES CAN BE FOUND AT www.shadowsecret.info