A number of area churches have recently held screenings of the documentary Over 18, and invited Shalem therapists to participate in panel discussions afterwards.
Over 18 is a documentary produced by Jared and Michelle Brock which seeks to educate parents, youth workers and others about the modern pornography industry and the effects of pornography on children and youth, families, as well as those within the porn industry. They highlight the easy availability of porn for even very young children, who are becoming addicted in increasing numbers.
The documentary is available for communities and organizations who want to host screenings, and comes with promotional material and discussion guides to facilitate conversations in communities about pornography exposure and addiction.
In a recent interview, Jared and Michelle describe how they are advocating for meaningful age verification on pornography sites that would force someone to prove they are over the age of 18 in order to access them. They are also pushing for support of Motion M47 which is asking the Canadian government to study the effects of modern pornography on children and teens.
Several area churches and schools have invited Shalem therapists to participate in panel discussions after their screening to extend the conversations about how to protect children and make safer communities.
Shawn Groen has participated in four such screening events hosted by churches and schools, and Stephen Doucet Campbell has participated in one as well. Shawn said that the events are very well received, with the venues filled with anywhere from 30 to 100 community members eager to learn more about how to protect their children.
Shawn said he and fellow panelists participate in a question and answer period after the screening. He said the panels typically have about 6 people, and often include a couple where one partner has been dealing with pornography addiction, parents who have a child who have been exposed to pornography, a psychotherapist such as himself, as well as a Biblical counsellor.
Shawn shared that key to conversation about pornography is a non-shaming approach. He emphasized the importance of challenging the secrecy and shame that often accompanies pornography use or the discovery of a family member’s porn use. Shawn described these community conversations as an important way we can bring pornography use out into the open and reduce the shame and increase the support for those who are involved with it. He said the message they want to convey is that there is support, and no one has to do it alone.
People need community to thrive, and whenever possible, Shalem Mental Health Network participates in events such as these that seek to help community members come together and help each other. Shalem has a history of embedding care in the community, and having their therapists participate in Over 18 community screening events is one further example of this.
If you are interested in hosting a screening of Over 18, check out their website for all the details. And if you want to see if a Shalem therapist can participate in the conversation or answer questions after the film, call the office at 866.347.0041.
Susan Winter Fledderus is a Clinical Therapist with Shalem Mental Health Network.