Safe Haven Sunday will help families protect children

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Most adults are uncomfortable talking about pornography among themselves. Addressing the topic with children is even more difficult.
But it’s necessary because of the digital age we live in, according to Jake Samour, director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life.
“Too many parents, grandparents, and guardians think internet-based pornography is beyond the interest of their children. Statistics tell us another story.”
To help parents help their children avoid pornography and help adults struggling with porn, the Diocese of Wichita is hosting and promoting Safe Haven Sunday the weekend of March 30-31. Parishes will provide resources at the weekend Masses explaining how to protect individuals, marriages, and families with the goal of making all homes a safe haven.
Bishop Carl A. Kemme said he is passionate about the family, the domestic church.
“I want all homes to be safe. I want to help individuals and families overcome pornography,” he said. “It is my sacred duty to protect the children in our great Diocese of Wichita from pornography, and it is my holy responsibility to guide and equip individuals and parents with forming children to live virtuous and holy lives online and offline.”
The bishop said pornography creates an impediment to obtaining deep and lasting relationships with Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is to be the center of our very lives, homes, and vocations.
“Pornography is bondage and fake. It is a mockery of true and holy intimacy that is celebrated through the sacramental life of the church,” Bishop Kemme said. “The use of pornography by anyone in the home deprives the home of its role as a safe haven and has negative effects throughout a family’s life and across generations.”
Pornography doesn’t need to be fought alone, he said. “It is my hope that the resources provided on Safe Haven Sunday will both encourage and teach all individuals and families dealing with the effects of pornography that loving support is available. It’s worth battling pornography for wholeness and purity for you, your spouse, your children, and the future of everyone in our diocese.”
Samour said a child’s first exposure to pornography is often during their elementary school years, usually by accident. It’s easily done by clicking on the wrong YouTube video, typing in the wrong word in a search – or a classmate may share a sexually explicit image.
“When parents and guardians haven’t created an environment where it’s safe to talk about uncomfortable topics, children will often hide these experiences out of shame and embarrassment,” he said.
The weekend’s name was inspired by the U.S. bishops’ 2015 pastoral letter about pornography, “Create in Me a Clean Heart,” which says the “domestic church” must safeguard “its role as a safe haven.”
Samour said the theme for the weekend, “Equipping the Family, Safeguarding Children,” means we as a community are saying we want holy, healthy, and safe homes, free of pornography and other online threats that deprive the home of its role as a safe haven.
Most families will be given the book “Equipped: Smart Catholic Parenting in a Sexualized Culture,” that includes a unique seven-day text-to-opt-in program: The Equipped 7-Day E-mail Challenge.
The challenge provides practical tips any caring adult can take to create safer digital environments for themselves and children.
“We encourage you to take advantage of these resources and ask that you be intentional about taking the steps suggested to ensure safety and joy for you, your loved ones, and the greater community,” Samour said.
The diocese has partnered with Covenant Eyes, a company that designs internet monitoring and accountability software that filters unwanted content on mobile or laptop devices.