Helping youths to get sober

A Spanish-speaking member, who is also a teacher, asks if there is anything SA can do for children who suffer from our addiction and who want to stop lusting and attain sexual sobriety. 

She had discovered that one of the children in her class (age 9-11) was viewing pornography. After warning her whole class that watching porn at such a young age would harm them, and that they might require professional help, five of them said that they wanted help. She now intends to talk to their parents and perhaps suggest SA to them. She is aware that she won't be able to help them within SA, while teaching them at the same time, but she was wondering whether other SA members in her city might be able to help these kids.

Now there are two issues here, one particular to her situation, and one general:

  • Anything you would want to suggest to this teacher and SA member about her particular situation? 
  • Apart from this particular situation, if a minor does come to SA out of free will and sincerely wants to stop lusting and become sexually sober, is there anything we can do to help him or her?


  1. This is a very tough problem. Minors at a meeting can be a real problem since adult members who might have been arrested for sexual offenses cannot be near children. Also young children watching pornography might be a stage they are going through rather than an addiction. Professional clarification might be needed. I have always been troubled by this issue. Bottom line is that I believe any minor, if they do attend, needs permission from their parents after full disclosure of all the potential risks to the children that could happen when attending the meetings. I really don't have a solution but I am glad that you brought this up.
  2. Thank you for your question on a very difficult and relevant topic. The laws in the United States make it impossible for our members to be in meetings with minors.  Discussion of our acting out behavior would be considered contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Members with judicial issues could be in violation of their legal status just by being in contact with minors. Thus we restrict attendance to adults only. Some countries outside the US may have less stringent laws which may permit minors to attend our meetings. There have been cases where special meetings have been arranged to meet with minors.  In these cases, there are extreme boundaries created to protect both the minor and the members. These include having parents approval, more than two members present with the minor at all times, meet in a safe place, and the assistance and oversight of professionals. In the one case, where I was directly involved, we met with the parent and minor and explained the 12 Step program as it relates to sexual addiction and the difficulties involved in having minors attend.  We gave them copies of our literature. We encouraged them to seek professional help and suggested attending AA meetings to get in touch with the 12 Step concept.  S-Ateen may be another approach especially if there is a sexaholic in the family. I felt badly that we could not offer more help to these people who are reaching out for help. I know we have an answer to lust addiction and have much to offer to those who need recovery.  I believe that our fellowship will eventually find an answer to this difficult situation.
  3. I desperately needed the SA solution when I was 12 years old and hopelessly addicted to pornography and masturbation. Nowadays, one hears of 8 and 9 year olds who are hooked on internet porn....and, as yet, SA has nothing for them. We describe ourselves as a fellowship of men and women, which would seem to exclude girls and boys specifically. But Tradition 3 (The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober) contains no age restrictions.  I quite understand the fears of many SA members - some of whom are unable to be in the presence of children for legal reasons. Nevertheless, our primary purpose is to carry the message to the sexaholic who still suffers....and nowadays many of these are teenagers or pre-teens. As far as I can tell, S-Ateen does not provide a real solution for sexually addicted minors. It is the responsibility of SA as a fellowship to offer its solution to lust addicts of any age, if we are to stay in integrity and remain true to our primary purpose. I don't know how it can do this but would welcome any constructive proposals.
  4. Interesting situation. A few concerns involved. There are safeguarding issues in addressing minors with stuff about recovery. We are sick people and the issue is tricky. But we have to start thinking about this type of situations as probably we are going to find it more and more. Here is my experience, strength and hope about "working with minors", in Spanish, so that you can forward it direct to the teacher.
    • Durante cinoc anos trabaje con mi iglesia en un centro de reclusion de menores en una gran ciudad latinoamericana. Mi cercania a los muchachos y el ambiente de confianza hizo que a menudo se presentaran cuestiones en torno a la sexualidad y surgieran preguntas e inquietudes. Algunos de ellos estban privados de libertad por delitos sexuales, aun cuando eran menores de edad. Yo ya estab sobrio y en SA y monitoreado por mi padrino. Sin revelar mi pertenencia a SA me di cuenta que podia pasarles el mensaje de una manera indirecta. Se hablo del sexo como adiccion y yo les decia que hay programas que ofrecen una solucion. Lo hice de manera general, hablando simultaneamente de drogas, alcohol, juego o comida como adiccion. Cuando ellos me cuestionaban por mi condicion de celibe y sabian que no tengo relaciones con nadie, me preguntaban como es posible y entonces yo aprovechaba para hablarles del concepto de sobriedad sexual, del sexo como opcion y no como obligacion y de la victoria progresiva sobre la lujuria. En algun caso se toco el tema de la masturbacion ydesde mi experiencia en SA pude abordar el tema de una manera muy sana y de modo que ellos encontraran identificacion (la tirania de la masturbacion con imagenes cada vez mas explicitas). Yo hice lo que pude y Dios hara el resto. Uno de los muchachos con los que trabaje en otra ciudad y a quien practicamente crie desde nino me revelo hace poco sus problemas con la lujuria y ahi si, como mayor de edad le pase el mensaje y va a asistir a la convencion de SA en M... este fin de semana.