Book Review: Good Pictures, Bad Pictures



By Sarah Ball | MSW, LICSW


Parents are often left frozen and seeking guidance when beginning the conversation about Internet safety and body boundary education. As parents, we want our children to remain safe and innocent, but our world is often attacking their minds from all angles.

In Kristen A. Jenson’s book, Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr. she gives parents a simple plan for protecting young minds from pornography and other unsafe images. Many parents often fear a conversation about pornography because they worry that informing their children about these images will destroy their innocence, but the author argues just the opposite. Jenson states, “Parents who arm their young children against the dangers of pornography are not destroying their children’s innocence: They’re protecting it [1].”

Many parents feel anxious and unprepared to discuss this topic with their children because they are not a counselor or some other trained professional, but it is important for parents to remember that you are the one who is an expert about your child! These conversations are best done by the parent because you intimately know your child and can discern the appropriate way, time, and place to have this conversation.

To help parents feel more equipped, Jenson has included an entire section in the back of the book labeled “Notes to Parents and Caregivers” which gives guidance and direction on debriefing the book with children. This part of the book teaches parents how to use the book, how to respond to their children’s feelings or answers to some of the prompts in the book, and how to help their child forget “bad pictures” if they have already been exposed. I believe that if parents read this section prior to reading this book with their child, they will feel competent and empowered to begin the discussion about unsafe images.

Jenson uses very simple, kid-friendly language to educate children on what “bad pictures” are and works through the book to empower them with steps to protect themselves. In the event they do see a bad picture, Jenson gives children practical steps without inducing shame: Turn, Run, Tell. The author also gives the child practical steps to prevent them from feeling like a “bad kid” and to help stop the cycle of showing other children the “bad pictures.”

Jenson includes multiple prompts through the safety education piece of the book, helping to create conversations between the parent and the child. These prompts help the book act as a guide to a natural and authentic discussion between parent and child.

Experts in child sexual abuse prevention advise parents to begin educating their children about online dangers as soon as the child has any access to the Internet. To help protect children in your care, it is best for you to be your child’s first and best source of information about how to recognize and reject pornography and other pictures. In Jenson’s book, she empowers parents and engages children in a way that helps start this conversation in an appropriate and gentle way.

Sarah Ball is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Therapist, serving with Pathways Professional Counseling in Birmingham and Gadsden. 

[1] Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds, Kristen A. Jensonpg. 34

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