Helping Children’s Advocacy Centers Understand the Effects of Pornography Exposure
A Conversation with Dr. Amelia Siders
Amelia Siders, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked to support children’s advocacy centers (CACs) for over 12 years. She is currently a State Chapter Liaison at the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, focusing on telemental health service implementation.
Trained in multiple evidence-based trauma-informed treatment practices, Dr. Siders has also provided consultation in trauma-informed assessment and substance use treatment and served as an expert witness in cases related to trauma and sexual abuse.
She first became acquainted with Dr. Gail Dines, Culture Reframed Founder & President, after attending one of Dr. Dines’ presentations. “While I consider myself an expert in treating abuse,” said Dr. Siders, “there was so much I did not know about exposure to pornography.” When she later introduced Culture Reframed’s work to CACs, it was evident that those in the field lacked the education and resources needed to support victims of child sexual abuse that was linked to pornography exposure.
Dr. Siders is a featured speaker at Culture Reframed’s November 16, 2023 virtual event, “The Impact of Pornography on Young People.” She will share how CACs across the U.S. have partnered with Culture Reframed to support victims of child abuse. Learn more about the conference and register here.
In this conversation, Dr. Siders explains the dangers associated with young people’s exposure to pornography and shares plans for Culture Reframed’s partnership with CACs.
What has been your journey and experience in the field of child advocacy and psychology, and how has it led you to your current role?
No matter where I work, I always seem to be pulled toward supporting children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. My career in the child welfare field began when I was in graduate school as an intern at the Center for Child Protection in San Diego, CA, now called The Chadwick Center. I then spent about ten years working in direct service at a children’s advocacy center with children and adolescents who had been victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, and witness to violence. My next position was as the clinical director for the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Michigan.
After spending several years at the state chapter, an opportunity presented itself at the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) to support state chapters in the western region of the U.S., developing and delivering quality mental health services. My focus at WRCAC is on rural and frontier children’s advocacy centers and telemental health service implementation. And in a great twist, I am back where I started from, employed by the same hospital where I completed my first internship!
Why is the issue of children’s exposure to pornography important to Children’s Advocacy Centers?
Children who are victims of sexual abuse are extremely vulnerable. Early exposure to pornography can influence a child’s perception of what constitutes “normal” sexual behavior. I often worked with children and adolescents who had been exposed to pornography as grooming behavior by their offenders. They would share how they had an extremely “skewed” view of sexual behavior. Offenders would use it to desensitize and normalize what they were doing to them. Sometimes, this led to them creating child sexual abuse material. It is all connected. Unfortunately, many of the cases we now see at CACs have some connection to pornography exposure.
How do you see the partnership with Culture Reframed making a difference in this area?
Several years ago I heard Dr. Gail Dines give a presentation, and I was blown away by what I learned. While I consider myself an expert in treating abuse, there was so much I did not know about exposure to pornography. I did my research on Culture Reframed and was so impressed by their mission, the scientific approach, and the plethora of resources they make available. I asked Dr. Dines and Dr. Mandy Sanchez to present at the Michigan state chapter for the CAC conference — it was standing room only for their presentations. It is clear there is a need and desire for training and resources in this area for all members of our multidisciplinary team. We are aligned in our desire and mission to end the abuse and exploitation of children. There is such potential for a great partnership.
Why do CACs require resources related to children’s exposure to pornography? How will this benefit them?
Children have easy access to all types of content on the internet, including explicit material. It’s essential to educate children, parents, and caregivers about online safety to prevent unwanted exposure. Cultured Reframed has worked hard to develop educational material for caregivers on how to talk to children about pornography. As a clinician, I have relied upon their research and educational materials to educate not only the caregivers but also members of our multidisciplinary team. We need educational materials and training for CAC staff, including advocates and clinicians, to share with the families we serve. Education in this area is tied to the CACs’ mission related to prevention and advocacy.
What are the long-term goals of Child Advocacy Centers’ collaboration with Culture Reframed to address these issues?
I would love to see CACs and Culture Reframed continue to develop collaborative training, resources, and research opportunities. There is a need to create a common language related to how we talk about this issue at CACs. As more CACs get involved in accessing resources, new ideas will be generated for how CACs and Culture Reframed can support each other in addressing the harmful effects on children related to pornography exposure.
Virtual Event: The Impact of Pornography on Young People
Join our virtual conference on November 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET to explore the many harms of pornography to children with a focus on child sexual abuse. Doctors, psychologists, and front-line child protection professionals will share emerging research and first-hand experience identifying pornography consumption as a driver of child sexual abuse.