ST. FRANCIS — Fr. Greg Greiten, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish, Milwaukee, said an instructor in the International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals, of which the priest is a member, posed the question: “What do you do when you’re a parent and you find your kid with pornography?”

“The initial response from the instructor was, ‘The first thing you do is nothing. That doesn’t mean ignore the problem. It means just don’t blow up and go crazy and attack the kid and shame the child,’” Fr. Greiten said.

When calm returns, parents should use the opportunity to have “serious conversations about what is healthy sexuality,” the priest said.

“That’s the time when a parent could really intervene and say, ‘Yes, this is out there, but this isn’t something we want to be a part of,’” he said. “We can start educating children and teenagers about the reality. So it takes a lot more honesty and it’s going to take a lot more conversations so that parents are really interacting with their children.”

Fr. Greiten noted that if the phone or the computer is the baby sitter, or the children are left alone with it, they will be exposed to pornography.

“Because in the alone time that’s what happening,” he said. “And it’s not going to take them long to find things.”

Psychologist Tim Shininger said he understands it may be difficult for parents to have those conversations, but advises, “Just start.”

“Yes, it’s hard. As a father of three sons, I know those are not easy conversations to have. And also let them know if you make a mistake, if you’re struggling with it, please come and talk to me about it,” he said.

Shininger also recommended parents remain calm if they discover a child viewing pornography.

“Try not to overreact, but realize OK, this is something we’ve talked about, this is something each of us individually may have probably been tempted by, or struggled with in one way or another,” he said. “We need to not lose sight of being compassionate with our own children that way.”