Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Abuse & Trauma with guest Clint Davis

In this episode of the Brainy Moms parenting podcast, Dr. Amy and Teri interview Clint Davis, a licensed counselor, pastor, and trauma specialist. Clint shares how technology and social media have contributed to widespread sexual abuse and trauma for the current generation of children.  This episode rattled us with the shocking statistics and showed us where we can fall short as parents in protecting our children from predators.  It’s an uncomfortable conversation about having uncomfortable conversations as families, but so very necessary to keep our kids and teens safe. Don’t miss this one. 

Read the transcript and show notes for this episode:

EPISODE 121
Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Abuse & Trauma
with guest Clint Davis, MA, LPC

Dr. Amy Moore:

Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms. I’m Dr. Amy Moore, here with my cohost Teri Miller, coming to you from a partly cloudy and a little bit smokey Colorado today. We are excited to introduce you to our guest, Clint Davis. So Clint is an army veteran and ordained minister, and a licensed counselor trained in trauma and addiction. He owns a counseling and integrative wellness center, and is the director of recovery for a nonprofit that helps with human trafficking and poverty. He’s also the host of the podcast, Asking Why with Clint Davis. And he’s the father of two boys, ages three and six.

Teri Miller:

So glad you’re here, Clint.

Clint Davis:

Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. Thank you so much for joining us. And I want you to tell us all about the work you’re doing and give our listeners so much great wisdom. But before we launch into that, if you would give the listeners a little insight into your personal story, a little bit about your family and what brought you into the specialty that you are in today? What brought you to specialize in trauma counseling?

Clint Davis:

Well, it’s a long and short answer, so I’ll try to keep it brief. I think, ultimately, I give all credit to God in my life and his work, and call to ministry, to loving those who are on the fringes and who were hurting. And I think that happened because that was me. My parents were really poor. My parents divorced when I was really young. I had some sexual abuse trauma, I had my own trauma with their divorce and grew up in high school always being the oldest and trying to piece things together and connect everybody, and got really skilled at, even at a young age, picking up on the nuances of relationships. And so everybody always said, “You should be a pastor, you should be a counselor.” And I was like, “I’m not going to school forever. I have terrible grades.”

Clint Davis:

So I joined the military when I was 17, and the second week of basic training was 9/11. So it was on the rifle range when 9/11 happened, about … So then I left there, I went to Afghanistan a year later. And then about two years after that, Hurricane Katrina happened. And so I went down for the Superdome for that. So I was in the Superdome for seven days. And so I just had PTSD and a lot of trauma, and it just piled up. And in between that, I was in church and I was trying to follow the Lord but all my trauma really just can’t be separated from understanding how to integrate that into my life and really walk it out. And so then I started going to therapy and I realized it worked really well. It helped me a ton and really saved my life.

Clint Davis:

And so in between that, met my wife, she went to therapy, I went to therapy, both went and did our own things to college. And I just felt God calling me to say, “Hey, listen, I want you to use your story, use your trauma, but also get trained in it.” And so I went to Louisiana Tech for a bachelor’s in psychology, and then I moved out to Los Angeles from Louisiana and got my masters at Fuller Theological Seminary. So Fuller does a really good job of integrating psychology and theology. So you get a master’s in marriage and family therapy that you would get anywhere else, but then they integrate, help you integrate everything from a Christian perspective, if that’s what your client would want.

Clint Davis:

So when I went back to Shreveport, I worked for the Methodist Children’s Home, did in-home counseling. And every family I was with and kid that I was with, I did a lot of parenting education, a lot of just joining with the family and trying to help these kids who were at risk for out of home placement. And I just kept feeling like we’re just putting band-aids on bullet holes. We’re not dealing with the trauma. I had already went through EMDR and trauma therapy myself, so I knew what it was like to get good therapy. And I felt like we were just doing CBT and behavior modification, but not getting to the root. And so then I started working with Purchased: Not for Sale and The Hub: Urban Ministry, helping people in poverty and stall the same things.

Clint Davis:

And Purchased is partnered with the FBI and we help with human trafficking. And so already having my own trauma training, my own trauma experience helped me to really minister and work clinically with these trauma victims and just educating me, equipped me more on how to work with people with intense trauma. And so from there, I ended up quitting that job eventually and starting my own private practice, where that’s built out from there and we have about 27 people. We also have a couple of dieticians, a chiropractor, a family medicine doctor, a pediatrician, massage therapist, all on staff to do an integrated wellness, see the whole person as we treat.

Clint Davis:

And so, then I got, in there, I got married and had some kids. And my oldest son has what’s called FPIES, which is Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. So he almost died twice the first year, really rare food allergy. And so we just went through that journey the last six years of having a special needs kid and trying to figure out how to talk to doctors when they don’t even know about it because it’s a rare disease and the trauma of all that. And so luckily, I was equipped to know what was happening, but that doesn’t necessarily save you from the consequences of it.

Clint Davis:

And so, that’s all come together and where I’m at now and what I’m doing. And I have two little boys, and so I just, the last couple of years of, have challenged myself and said, “Look, I don’t want to look up in 10 years and have to apologize to my children for not doing something about where we’re at.” And I have the resources to help my friends and help our community, and so that education and that support is something that I’m really excited about getting to do, which is why I’m glad to be here. So that’s the nutshell version. I think I haven’t said it in a long time, so that was helpful.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Absolutely. So, I want to talk about some basics for our listeners. And a majority of our listeners are moms. And so when we hear the word trauma, we typically think of something big happening, right? So a natural disaster or physical abuse or something, one big life-changing issue, but there are lots of different causes of trauma, specifically in childhood. So can you talk a little bit about what trauma is and what’s happening?

Clint Davis:

Yeah. So I like to define trauma as anything that’s not nurturing. And what I mean by that is that what we tend to do is measure trauma against the worst things. So when I first got back from Afghanistan, I would get asked to speak places on Veterans Day, and I would say, “Oh, no, I didn’t get deployed a bunch of times. I didn’t have to kill a bunch of people. There are way worse guys who’ve been deployed way worse than me. I don’t have a right to that.” But then my friend would say, “Well, dude, I haven’t even been to war.” So it’s, if we measure ourselves, in my opinion, against what God intended for us to receive or against health instead of against worse things, then we see the gap in our own lives.

Clint Davis:

And so a lot of times we have minimized because we’ve survived our trauma, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t affect us. And a lot of parents, I mean, a lot of couples, a lot of families I see say, “No, I had a great childhood. It was fantastic.” None of this has anything to do about my parents. They did the best they could. And then we go back about six sessions and they realize, “Oh, man, I would never want my child to experience what I experienced.” And they start to personalize and this inner child work comes in. And so that’s how I would describe it.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So, can you give us some examples then of what does trauma look like for a child?

Clint Davis:

Yeah. So I focus on two primary things, love and trust. So trauma can come from a violation of love, which is not getting hugged, not getting kissed, not getting physically touched. So affection, affirmation, and attention. It can also come from physical abuse, sexual abuse. We look at the ACEs study, Adverse Childhood Experience scale. And we look at these things that happened in your childhood like that, that would cause significant attachment disorders, significant pain. Really underneath all of, I guess I would say the behaviors that happen, would be the feelings and the beliefs that people build. Like, “I’m not worthy. I’m not good enough. I’m not lovable.”

Clint Davis:

And so those are the big T traumas, right? Rape, abuse, violence, war, but little T traumas are things like dad disrespecting you, or dad not being there, or dad calling you stupid, or these things that we wouldn’t look at and say, “Oh, man, that’s a big deal,” but little T traumas happen so many times that they become big T traumas. And so, eventually, your brain does the same thing. You don’t need to experience multiple rapes for it to affect your brain, but you might need to have your dad showing you 10 times for it to start changing. If that makes sense.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Absolutely. Well, we know that trauma actually means wound. Right?

Clint Davis:

Right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

We got it that way.

Clint Davis:

Absolutely.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Come in all sizes.

Clint Davis:

And then you have the safety side, which is, you can live in a dangerous neighborhood. You could be in poverty, you could be physically in danger. You could witness your mother and your father or your parents being abusive towards one another. And so you start to build this idea that the world’s not safe, that you’re not safe, that relationships aren’t safe, and that maybe God’s not safe.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Clint Davis:

And so those are the cores that I look at. And when those cores get violated, when there’s a violation of love and trust, it causes pain. And so the trauma is that when that pain happens, you want to do something about it. And so you form these survival mechanisms, fight flight or freeze. And we have two newer ones which are fawning, and then using sex. I won’t say the word that they use, but they use sexuality to cope. And so if you imagine a mountain top and there’s snow on the top, and the sun comes out and the snow melts, and it goes down the mountain, what starts to form groups every time that it does that, and our brains do the same thing.

Clint Davis:

And so we start to build unconscious responses to these violations of love and trust. And so one of my favorite analogies is tall grass. So you’re walking down the street with your best friend on the sidewalk and there’s this tall, thick grass, and a lion jumps out and kills your friend. Well, the next time you see tall grass when you’re walking, what are you going to do?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right.

Clint Davis:

You’re going to run the other way, you’re going to tense up, you’re going to remember that. And the question is, did the tiger kill your friend, or the lion kill your friend? No. I mean, the tall grass killed your friend. No. Right? But now we’re avoiding something that reminds us of the tiger. And so there’s a lot of things in our lives that are violations of love and trust from our childhood or from our adulthood that give us these trauma symptoms. Sight, smell, sounds that aren’t the problem, but that remind us of the problem. But before we can even get to the problem, we’re already running away from the things that remind us of that.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. Let me ask you about, in our society today, what are you seeing in terms of the most prevalent or the most common childhood trauma today, right now, currently?

Clint Davis:

So, I would like something to be added to the ACEs score. So if you look at it, there’s sexual abuse, physical abuse and then there’s physical neglect and emotional neglect. I would like sexual neglect to be added on there. And I think it’s one of the most prevalent trauma foundations that we’re seeing right now. So when I speak, I usually have a group of 500 people and I’ll say, “Raise your hand if your parents talked to you about masturbation, pornography, sexuality.” And one or two people will raise their hand. And so I call that sexual neglect because the child grows up with zero context about their body, about body safety, about awareness, about who can touch them, who can, what you should call it, what you shouldn’t call. Same thing with menstruation.

Clint Davis:

Lots of girls grow up to have their first period in a public setting and don’t even know it’s coming. And so I say context because you guys have kids and moms out there listening have kids. If you remember the first time you taught your kid to walk down the street, what did you say? You said, “Hold daddy or mommy’s hand, look both ways. We don’t go in the street because cars are there, you’ll get hit and you’ll get bobos and you’ll have to go to the doctor.” And then we model that and teach them. Well, we live in a culture that has multiple generations of sexual neglect. Meaning, a child goes over for a birthday party or a sleep over with their cousin. They don’t even know there’s cars in the street, because no one’s given them context for their body and they walk out and they get hit, and they’re not even aware that that’s a thing.

Clint Davis:

And so the neglect part is not intentional neglect. It’s just a system and a culture of not knowing how and not having the support, but it’s been neglectful nonetheless. And so, in my office, what I’ve learned over the last 10 years of doing therapy is after I talk with people and see people and work with them, they might come in for anxiety or depression, or couples therapy, or teen issues, or whatever, but the research shows one in three women are sexually abused by 18, and one in five men. And that’s what’s reported. And miscarriages, we never talk about it. It’s not known. And I think if we look at that in our culture and we go, “Okay, that’s the stat.” That means all these kids are experiencing this same touch, same sex touch, child touch. It’s not that they’re abusing each other. It’s that they’re replicating something that they’ve seen.

Clint Davis:

And I would say the other part that’s changed the most in the last 10 years is access to social media, access to pornography, access to internet, because now we know that children are viewing pornography as young as eight to 11 being the average age. And it’s not our 1980s pornography, it’s violence and aggression and things that no nobody should ever see much less a child. And so you have these kids who are not educated, not supported, scared, uncomfortable with their bodies, being exposed very early on to abuse from another child who’s going through it or seeing it online. And I think this is priming this generation for a lot of problems and attachment, and relationship issues.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Can you talk a little bit more about that? What happens when they’re exposed to this?

Clint Davis:

Yeah. So, you can imagine you have a kid who grows up, 52% of our kids are coming from a single parent household or a divorced household. So you have a kid who’s grown up with attachment issues, with trauma from the divorce, without either male or adult role model in their life who’s talking to them about these things. They experienced friendships and sleepovers where everybody’s talking about things they’ve seen and things that kids are talking about at school, but no parent or adult has given them context for that. So they learn from the other teenagers, they feel pressure to do things, or 12-year-olds, they feel pressured to do things.

Clint Davis:

They end up doing it, but they don’t go and tell anybody because we’ve already communicated to them that we don’t talk about this. So when we as parents don’t talk about things, we communicate something, right? There’s that adage you cannot not communicate. And so as parents, a lot of times, because we don’t know, because we’re scared … I have a lot of parents who start calling penis and vagina, their private parts, and the grandparents will get mad and say, “Why are you calling it that? Call it [Italian lacquer 00:15:51], or a nunu, or …”

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right.

Clint Davis:

And that is the last thing that you should be doing, right? Normalizing it and making it healthy and making body parts good, actually empowers children to do something about it. But we’re seeing a whole culture of kids who don’t. They’re experiencing that, and then you enter the porn culture and the TikTok culture, and it just gets worse and worse as they get older because it’s every day, all day. I’m about to be 40, and so when I grew up, if we wanted to see pornography, we had to go to a cousin’s house or he might’ve stolen a magazine and you see it for a few minutes, once every three months.

Clint Davis:

Nowadays you have a cell phone that you can access every single day, multiple times a day. And so you have children who have grown up neglected, grown up with trauma, it’s unresolved, they’ve experienced things that they shouldn’t have experienced because of a lack of supervision or a lack of education. And then they’re getting a cell phone, or then they have access to adult sexuality that they’re already primed for and it’s just off to the races. And so, we’re actually seeing a decline in sex with children, but we’re seeing them be over sexual in their behavior and actions. So they’re very hyper sexual online, but many of them haven’t had sex, or where in the 80s, where everybody was having sex, but there wasn’t this access to as many people.

Clint Davis:

And so, then we see that go into college age. Right now the number one buyer of Viagra is 20 to 25 year-old-men. And the reason that is, is because for the last 10 years, they’ve consumed so much pornography that they can’t connect. And so it’s a neuro issue. And so my goal is to figure out how can we educate moms and dads on how to do preventative work with our littles so that we can get to a point where that when they become, before they even get to puberty, they’re comfortable with their bodies. They know what to talk about, they know who to say yes.

Clint Davis:

So, when we have a babysitter come over, we have a body safety rules that we hand them and we go over it with them and it says, “No one touches our …” It’s like my kids know these rules. No one touches our private parts, no clothes are coming off, no secrets, my parts belong to me. I’ll wash myself. And we’re on the same page. And so it’s equipping parents to know that there’s resources and ways to do it appropriately. Right? You’re not going to start talking to your two-year-old about porn, but you might start talking about good pictures, bad pictures, and they have great books and resources now that you can do that with.

Teri Miller:

This is a big issue. I feel like you’re bringing something up that we don’t talk about. As moms, as parents, I mean, you have to put that out there for a babysitter. I mean, that’s risky, it’s uncomfortable. And I’m thinking, yeah, as listeners, you’re like, we’re probably going, “Oh, I don’t want to do that. [inaudible 00:18:41] other person that’s babysitting my toddler and they have to change diapers.” But this is important, important stuff.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Well, and that’s what you’re saying though, Clint, right? That because we’re afraid to talk about it as parents, that is a form of neglect, of sexual neglect, and that is causing trauma because we’re afraid to talk.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Clint Davis:

Yes. And we’re afraid to talk because of all our unresolved trauma from our parents that we’ve never gotten comfortable with our own body and our own sexuality where their husbands and our wives.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes.

Clint Davis:

So we have to recover in order to stop passing down these generational traumas that keep going. And I’ll say this. One of the problems is, is that, and I’ve said this on our podcast and a bunch of times, but one of the problems is, is that, I think about the military. I have to know my enemy. Okay. That means I need to know their strategy, their thoughts, how they’re going to manipulate so that I can defend. Right? Well, one of the problems with sexual abuse and sexual neglect is that we don’t want to think about a person who would do that. And I don’t either. But let me do it for you for a second so you don’t have to. The reason that you can reduce the likelihood of your kid being abused by 90% when you do these things is because a perpetrator who wants to abuse your child does not want to get caught.

Clint Davis:

So if you, let’s say the babysitter, somebody who’s been abused, who’s experienced pornography, who’s aroused in a way that’s inappropriate and broken, and they have an idea that, “Okay, I’m going to do this to this kid.” If you bring out a list of things and make them aware that you’re aware and your kid’s aware, they’re like, “Not this family.” Because they don’t want to get caught. What they do is they groom, they test little subtle things to see if they can get away with it, if they can give a bath first, if they can touch first. And then they build and build and build until it gets there. But if your kid’s equip, we call it the penis jewels at my house because that boys.

Clint Davis:

So I always say, [Gray 00:20:44], what’s the penis rule is nobody touches it but you. Well, now he rolls his eyes. And he’s like, “Nobody touches but you, mommy, only when you give us a bath, or the doctor.” If anybody tries to tell him, I say, “No, you can’t touch my penis.” And I run and tell an adult. And so my mom’s over a few months ago, and she comes out of the bathroom laughing. And I said, “What?” And she said, “Gray, kick me out of the bathroom.” Now he’s six and a half. And I said, “Oh, he did.” And she said, “Yeah.” He said, “I need [inaudible 00:21:09] and you can’t see my penis, please get out.” And she was like, “I don’t understand. I was doing my hair. I wasn’t looking. I was just in the room. I’m his grandmother, I’m safe.”

Clint Davis:

And I said, “But that’s not the point.” He needs to know that he can control his body whether he’s at school, whether he’s at a baseball game, whether he’s at soccer. Whatever it is that he’s doing, he needs to have repetitively heard, “You’re in charge of this.” Right? And then imagine if you’re a perpetrator or a person who’s trying to be sneaky and subtle, and figure it out because that’s part of the gimmick, and a kid’s like, “Oh, no sir. Get out.” Right? Because you do not want to get arrested. But we have to act as if our kids are not prey. That when we interact with our families, with our friends, it’s awkward at first, but man, when I leave my kids with a babysitter or if our friends come over and our kids are in the other room, I feel so comfortable because I know they know. And again, it’s not a perfect system. I mean, there are monsters out there. There are people who will do whatever they want to do, but that’s so slim and so rare that you can’t, obviously can’t predict everything.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So it’s rare then that the monster is the one that abuses your child. So who is abusing a child?

Clint Davis:

Right. So 82% of people that abuse a child are people you know. Right? And so that’s cousins, that’s uncles, that’s aunts, that’s babysitters, that’s pastors, that’s people that we’re interacting with on a regular basis that we haven’t vetted, and then that we haven’t trained and communicated with about this particular thing. We just assume they’re safe and they’re fine, and we don’t want to be uncomfortable and awkward. And so we’re like, “Sure, you can be unsupervised with our kid.” We don’t even ask, “Are they unsupervised?” We just assume that all the adults in our lives are protective of the children, but that’s not how it works. And so kids go in a closet with the door shut.

Clint Davis:

And because of nowadays, you don’t know what the other kids in your kid’s life are seeing at home. It’s not that these kids are all perpetrators and they’re just all looking to abuse your kid, it’s that they’ve been exposed to something before puberty that is turned their arousal systems and their arousal templates on in a way that it makes them act out what they’ve seen, right? A five-year-old is not thinking about another five-year-old sexually. They’re not looking at them and thinking, “I want to have sex with them.” They’re thinking, “I want to play with this person, I like what they like,” unless they’ve been exposed to something, a movie, a show, pornography, or been abused, and then that whole system is something that now they want to use to empower themselves, to find control, to find security. And so they act that out with another kid.

Clint Davis:

I work really hard to get people to call children under teenage years victims as well, because it’s two children playing and working out something or not victimizing each other. Now the child has been victimized as a victim, but I don’t like to think of a 10-year-old and an eight-year-old being unsupervised as a perpetrator and a victim, because most likely that kid’s a victim as well, if that makes sense. And that’s different than an adult obviously, and a child.

Teri Miller:

I want to veer. I know we’ve got to take a break here in just a minute, but I want to ask your input, ask a question about older kids. So lots of input and wisdom, my goodness, about what we need to do to empower our younger kids, to make for that safe, knowledgeable space for them. What about teenage kids? And I’ll give you an example. I’ve got two teenage boys. We are not cell phone kind of a family. I got a lot of [inaudible 00:25:05] and so I don’t just give my kids cell phones when they’re young. But my two teenage boys are at the age where they’re starting to work, they’re going here and there. One of them 16 now, he has his license.

And that is a big concern that they suddenly, and I’m sure they had access before with friends and stuff, but they suddenly have all this freedom to look at anything they want. And even as strict as we try to be, there are times where I’ll realize that they’ve got their phone in their bedroom for three hours. It didn’t get docked like it was supposed to. And what would you say to moms of teenage boys and girls with all the sexual abuse that is out there online, ready, right at their fingertips? How can we be empowered as parents to help our kids to put controls on it? Whatever. Give me [inaudible 00:26:04].

Clint Davis:

So I would say we have to … I mean, there’s a lot I would like to say about it. I have several podcasts on it. So if you want to link those and then people can listen to the whole thing, because I do these talks at length with actually what to do, what resources to have, what books to read and why. So I’ll give a subtle quick thing. The world is not the same as it was 10 years ago. The cell phone has changed everything in the world. And so as parents, and even as a 40-year-old, I don’t know what it’s like to be a teenager today. I didn’t have social media, I didn’t have access to those things. And I was a mess without it. And so I think with a cell phone, I mean, I’m a big believer in wait until eight or wait until ninth grade for them to have any access to the internet or a smartphone.

Clint Davis:

And then when they get it, I compare it to driving. You get a permit … Well, first, you usually let your kid drive with you in a parking lot. And then you get a permit and they can only drive with you. And then they can get their license and they can drive at certain times. And then they get the freedom to drive whenever they want to. And I feel like the cell phone is the same way, access to the internet, being able to call and text people that you don’t know. There has to be a scaffolding that happens to where you can build trust with them to see that they can handle it responsibly. But we’re asking them to handle adult things that adults can clearly not handle either. Right?

Clint Davis:

Adults can’t handle social media, adults can’t handle the comments section, adults can’t handle pornography, adults can’t handle, I mean, just swiping. I mean, you can walk out to your car and all of a sudden you’re swiping your Facebook just to see what’s on there or check a like or whatever because it makes you feel good. And their brains are moose compared to ours. And so, I think, I mean, I’m really hardcore about it that I don’t think we can win that game. So I don’t think it’s something we can play with until they’re 16 or older and have shown us that they have the ability to defer their [inaudible 00:28:03], communicate with us honestly.

Clint Davis:

And then honestly, up until 18, I still don’t think they have privacy. So if they want to write in a journal, that’s private, but if they’re texting and sending things into the world to other people, it’s no longer private already, so why is it private from us? And so they have text boarding apps, they have apps now that you can clone basically their phone onto your phone and you can see what they’re sending, what they’re watching. There’s Covenant Eyes, there’s Disney Circle, there’s Bark. There are apps now that can screenshot every day, all day, pieces of their phone to see what they’re looking at, see what they’re accessing, it timestamps it.

Clint Davis:

So even if it is social media, right, maybe you click, maybe you look at your email at morning and they’ve got all day long, they’re on Instagram. Well, that’s a conversation starter, like, “Hey, you were on Instagram at 7:00, at 9:00, at three o’clock,” hopefully you’re not letting them have their phone in their room, but three o’clock in the morning. So there has to be accountability and structure. It can not be something to be played with. And I think the stat is 83% of parents have no rules for devices. And so we who have rules for devices or letting our kids engage with eight out of 10 kids who have had their phone, have the internet, have a tablet in their room, there’s access to anything in the world and there’s no time limit.

Clint Davis:

And so what I challenge us to do is go, “Hey, we need to build a community of parents around us who are all on the same page, who agree with this idea so that our kid’s not like, well, I’m the only one without TikTok,” because right now that’s true. And what we’re seeing is that the teenagers now have anxiety and depression because they’re isolated when they don’t have the phone because everybody else does. So we’re in this weird timeframe where other than just triaging, I don’t really know what to do for the 14 to 18-year-olds. Right? Other than just triaged, get them therapy, get them off that, just like you would wean them off anything else.

Clint Davis:

But what I really challenge us to do is those of us who have really little kids, zero to six, six to 10, start having these conversations now. “Hey guys, our kids are five. We’re not going to give them a phone, right?” Because this is the age they’re starting to get it. Seven, eight, they’re carrying around smartphones at the park, listening to all kinds of things. I see it all the time with my kids. And so, “Hey, if we go to your house, they’re not going to have access to the internet, right? There’s not an Alexa in their room.” And we all agree. I mean, that’s my world right now. It’s like, my kid’s not going to go to anybody’s house who has free WiFi, and who’s got a device laying around.

Clint Davis:

And we’ll go over and people will have an Alexa or have filed iPads laying around the house. And I’m like, “We got to pick all these up. Can we put them in a location?” And that call us tension. Right? We don’t like that because we don’t want to intrude on people. But what happens is, is you leave them for five minutes, you go upstairs, and Billy’s got the iPad out and they’re on it, looking at whatever.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes. All right. So we’ve got listeners right now who are saying, “I didn’t do this.”

Teri Miller:

Right. It’s too late.

Dr. Amy Moore:

My kids are teenagers. I didn’t have rules, I don’t have rules. Now what?

Clint Davis:

Yes. So now what is apologize. Right? Go sit our kids down and say, “Listen, I didn’t know. And I know that you like these things and I know that they make you feel good, And I know that everybody’s doing it around you, but it’s my job as your parent to say, “I’m sorry for not protecting you from these things,” and show them that you really didn’t know. And then start saying, “We’re going to have to work together to back off on some of this and to build some better structures.” And they’re going to be really mad. And this is what I tell people all the time. If you’re really struggling with your teenager and there’s all this tension, you have to start parenting for when they’re 25.

Clint Davis:

And what I mean by that is right now the prefrontal was mush and so nothing you do is going to make them go, “Oh, I trust you and I believe everything you’re saying.” Right? They’re going to be really mad, but they’re going to hit 23 and they’re going to call you and they’re going to say, “Hey, mom, I know that you didn’t let me have social media and you took it away from me, and I was really mad at you for four or five years, but man, I’m so thankful you didn’t do that because I see my friends now and they’re a mess.” Or they’re going to call you and they’re going to say, “Why did you let me have social media?” If we think about our own lives, that’s what we’ve done.

Clint Davis:

We call our parents back when we’re 23 or 24 and we either say, “Thank you for protecting me. I didn’t see this protection.” Or, “Why didn’t you?” And in this moment where we have teenagers where maybe we didn’t know, and we did the best we could, and we didn’t have the education, it’s not intentional. We all screw up. I’m sure I’ll look back in five or 10 years and go, “Oh, my gosh, what an idiot? I didn’t know what I was doing in that area.” And then we have to ask for grace, but that doesn’t keep us from doing what we now know the right thing is to do. And so find support, find a therapist, find a community. Don’t do it alone because if you do it in isolation, yes, it’s 1,000 times worse.

Clint Davis:

There’s a lot of really good books out there, Always Turned On by Rob Weiss. I can send some of these resources to you guys and y’all can link them to the talk or whatever. But yeah, I mean, there are books, there are podcasts, there are ways to walk this stuff out. People always panic. I did these talks at the YMCA a couple months ago and one of the moms was on Zoom and she just said, “I feel terrified, but also feel very equipped.” And that’s the balance that I’m trying to strike, is we have to acknowledge how bad it is while at the same time, know that we can prevent it. It’s very simple to prevent it, but it’s difficult.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. So we need to take a quick break. Let Teri read a word from our sponsor. And when we come back, I know what’s going to be going on in our listeners minds right now. Right? This is hard, it’s too late. I would like for you to speak to what the long-term implications of not doing something could be.

Clint Davis:

Okay.

Dr. Amy Moore:

When we come back.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Clint Davis:

No problem.

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Dr. Amy Moore:

And we’re back, talking to Clint Davis about childhood trauma, and specifically about what he would like to have added to Adverse Child Experiences, sexual neglect, or not talking to our children about risks and protecting their bodies, and the damage that can happen when we give them carte blanche exposure to cell phones and social media. And so, Clint, what happens if we don’t do anything?

Clint Davis:

Well, I think unfortunately, it’s yet to be seen. I’m guessing, right now, and I think that’s why I’m pushing so heavy with the prevention piece, is that we’re already seeing our young adults unable to function, that their anxiety … I think there’s been a 200% increase in self harm since 2010 in 10 to 14-year-old girls. There’s been a 189% increase in suicide rates in the teenage generation. We’re seeing a 19% increase in anxiety and disorders in college freshmen. We now have parent orientation in college because the kids are too anxious to go and do it on their own, where the rest of us just showed up and figured it out and went to our advisor. Now the parents come, they talk to the teachers, they talk to the advisor.

Clint Davis:

And so the social media, text messaging without communicating. I had two girls that I saw for a long time, and they finally got their cell phones when they were 13. And so I hadn’t seen them in a few months and they came in and they had Snapchat. And so one of the kids had, I think it was 60,000 snaps that they had sent back and forth and 12 phone calls. And so you have this generation of kids growing up who do not know how to be social in the way that I think it makes connection. It’s a false sense of connection. It’s dopamine versus serotonin. So dopamine is this thing that’s very addictive. You have to have more of it. It never meets your needs, and it only touches five receptors of the brain.

Clint Davis:

Well, Facebook, Instagram, pornography, Snapchat, all of these things, likes, all the edits we make to people’s faces and all these things that we get views, and these all are hit dopamine. And so we need more and more of it and we need less and less of serotonin. Serotonin is what you get from exercising, from connecting like we’re doing today. I already feel super high from just talking about this stuff because it makes me excited in a good way. And that’s a good high. But we’re building a generation of children and young adults who only are dopamine centered. And so what we’re seeing in neuroscience is that they’re not actually getting dopamine anymore. They’re just avoiding withdrawal.

Clint Davis:

After so long, their brains are not even able to make dopamine. And so they’re going to have to detox from social media in order to have any real connection and sustainable life moving forward. And so, we spend so much time in these fake worlds with this fake drug in our brain that then I’m terrified of what that’s going to look like for them as parents. I remember about, and I’ll be honest and vulnerable, about 18 months ago, I stopped posting personal things on social media. When I was in the midst of teaching, I was like, “Oh man, I got to practice what I preach.” And I realized I would be out with my kids and I was like, “Oh, I really want to take a picture so I could show people how cute my kids are and how funny they are.”

Clint Davis:

And I realized it took three months for me to be out with them and not thinking about how I want to show them off. And the in-between was weird because I was like, “Oh man, I got high off of that.” When I be playing with my kids, there was a part of me that’s like, “Let me show everybody how good of a dad I am or how fun our family is, or how cute they are and smart they are.” And instead of being present, thinking about them, which I was, I was thinking about also this world that doesn’t really even care. Does that make sense?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Sure.

Clint Davis:

And so if that’s how I am as a professionally trained therapist and adult, I can’t imagine how that’s going to be for our teenagers and how they’re going to fight to find real connections, to have real relationships that last. Too, I mean, we’re already seeing this with surgeries and plastic surgery. It’s increasing at a rapid rate where there’s body dysmorphia. All these things are increasing because they’re comparing themselves to Instagram culture, which is all edited and all filtered, and it’s everybody’s highlight reel to their real life.

Clint Davis:

And so they wake up on a Saturday with pimples, stinking needing a shower, they get up and they turn Instagram on and they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, look at these people compared to me.” And we do this as adults and it hurts. And so that’s the consequences I think moving forward, is just our family systems continuing to deteriorate, us not knowing how to connect, us not knowing how to use sexuality healthy, more abuse, more neglect. And I don’t see it getting better unless we do something about it.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. So that’s going to impact your relationships, dating, courting, engagement, marriage, becoming a parent yourself. I mean, it’s a lifelong impact.

Clint Davis:

Yeah. They already don’t really even have that. That’s the new thing with Tinder and Grindr and these apps. It’s they’re already moving into a space where no one even is teaching how to date. Hookups and sex is just a thing that you can do and it doesn’t mean anything. And as long as you mutually agree to that, it’s fine. And so you’re seeing these college students just have multiple partners, random relationships. And then they move into commitment and they wonder why this doesn’t last and why this becomes a problem. It’s a bad deal. It’s not something to take lightly. And although it’s scary, like I said, I want to give some hope. The answer is pretty simple. You limit the access they have to social media, you limit the access they have to the internet without supervision, and you teach them how to handle it appropriately as they develop.

It’s really overwhelming. I hate to be the bearer of the bad news. I tell my wife, sometimes I’m like, “I’m on this podcast, I want to do this talk and they asked me to talk about this. I want to talk about marriage, or I want to talk about something fun or parenting. I love talking about being a dad. But I think God has put me in this specific niche to say these things that are hard and say them hopefully well and kindly, and encouraging where parents can go, “Listen, this is, if you have screwed this up, it’s not your fault.” We have responsibility moving forward, but none of us could have known this. Our parents didn’t know, we didn’t know. The cell phone is the only thing in all of human history, technologically that’s happened, right? So a plane or a refrigerator, any of those things took 30 or 40 years to integrate into the culture. Right?

Clint Davis:

And when the refrigerator came on the scene, it allowed us to build trucks, to travel across cities, to move food around, to be able to have a hamburger that is McDonald’s and lasts for 60 years without falling apart, good and bad. Right? But the cell phone went from a smartphone, the flip phone, to a full-on smartphone in one night. And so we had adults who had zero access daily to the internet, except for on a computer that had dial up, to instant all day access. And then in about three years later, the iPhone 2 came out and guess what we did with the iPhone 1. We handed it to our child.

Clint Davis:

And so for the first time ever in human history, as we sit right now, your child can be on the couch with you and can be communicating with another adult or getting information from another adult that, and you have no clue and no filter for. Research says that about 62% of kids who have social media get unsolicited requests from adults and 50% of them answer.

Teri Miller:

That’s just (inaudible).

Clint Davis:

It is. I’ve had cases in my office. And people like to say, “Oh, well, you just work the hard stuff.” It’s no, these are middle of the road, normal families, girls on TikTok. She thinks it’s a boy. The boy says, “Send me a picture in your bra.” She sends a picture and then he says, “Got you. Now send me more, I’m going to show your mom and dad.” And that escalates on and on and on. And this happens all the time because people are out, adults are out, abusive people are out catfishing and seeking. And so the answer is equip your kid.

Clint Davis:

We can’t stop the people from being out there. We have the police and the FBI and people doing those things, but the answer is to teach our kids appropriate boundaries, monitor them, check in daily and weekly on their hearts and their minds, build a relationship where there’s a bridge between you and them where a heavy thing can be held. And I think so many of us have to check our relationships and go, “Is our relationship a straw bridge or is it made out of steel? Is it going to be able to handle that heavy thing I put on it or is it going to fall apart?” And our kids know that.

Clint Davis:

And so the first step is re-engaging. Maybe getting off our own smartphones, our own social media, and being present and putting our phones up, having a device free hour where we eat dinner and we hang out together. When we play games together, making sure people’s devices are off. When we go on a vacation device-free. And what happens is it’s amazing that the kids come over and they’re like, “This is amazing. I love this.” You give them a book or a phone, they’re going to pick the phone every time. But then when they read the book, they’re like, “Man, why am I reading my phone?”

Clint Davis:

I had this experience the other night. I’ve been reading this book for about, since I was 15, it’s a series. And I read all the way to the end. I had 100 pages left and I was like, “I can’t wait to finish it.” I got in bed. My wife said something, I looked up an hour later, I was still scrolling through stupid videos on Facebook and I was so tired that I didn’t finish the book. And I was so mad at myself. And I didn’t look at anything vital or important. And this is what’s happening, is that we just fall into this trap. We have caveman brains and we are fighting against an algorithm and a system that we cannot beat. And so the idea that we can just play with that or that it’s fine and they’ll handle it or they’re smart, or I trust them, which is a horrible thing to do, is just false. Sorry, I get …

Teri Miller:

So everything you’re talking about, it’s pretty mind blowing, very humbling, feeling like, “Man, I wish I had done a lot of things differently.” And I know we’re really out of time. I would love to revisit this. I would love to revisit this on a practical level. And honestly, what I’m thinking is that I’d love to do some kind of an experiment, to go home and talk with my teenage boys, to see what we can implement. And I’d love to have a time that we schedule with you again, to be able to talk to listeners and say, “Okay.” I know that a lot of people are listening to this and saying, “Oh, that is pie in the sky.” I have this strong relationship, build a bridge with my kid, that my kid’s going to be happier about reading a book.

And I’m thinking, “No, you know what? My 15-year-old son is going to resent me for the next 10 years and blame me for every problem in his life because I took social media away.” And so, I mean, that’s what it feels like. And I don’t know what is it in practicality. I know that as parents we’re afraid of hurting that relationship, we’re afraid of the hard work that it’s going to take, the conflict that’s going to come up. The ugliness, the rebellion, the anger, I mean, this is dark, scary, hard stuff. And I’d love to see it, to play it out in real life and revisit this with you. What do you think?

Clint Davis:

Oh, yeah. I’d love to. I mean, I don’t want to leave people feeling like they can’t do it, and I’ll keep reiterating that. I think the solutions are very simple. I’d love to come back and talk about it. And like I said, they can go listen to the two. I did some long with our podcast. It’s called Asking Why with Clint Davis, and it’s on iTunes and all that stuff too. But I would say, it’s not all or nothing, right? That cognitive distortion of I’ve got to go home today and I’ve got to gut the house, and I’ve got to take all the devices away or, I don’t want it to be that extreme. That’s not necessarily helpful.

Clint Davis:

But what is helpful is to say, “Hey, we’re going to put some monitoring devices on these phones. We’re going to learn how to put some time limits. If you’re going to be on the internet, you’re going to be in the living room with us. If you’re going to be on your laptop, you’re going to be in present with everybody else. We’re not going to take our phones or devices to our rooms or in private.” That’s the first start for young kids. If they’re 16 and older, then maybe we have some different rules, but they have to show us that they’re trustworthy. Show us that they have good boundaries. And hopefully, we can start building those bridges if we don’t have them.

Clint Davis:

But yeah, I don’t, like I was telling Dr. Amy, I don’t want anybody to feel shamed. Shame is I’m bad. Guilt is what I’m doing needs to be better. Right? We want to feel guilty. We want to go, “I can do better. My kid deserves better and I deserve better.” And when there’s resources, so I want to feel a little guilt. I want to go, “Oh, I didn’t know and now I do. So now what do I do about it?” And so I always say, “Don’t shoot yourself,” right? Don’t shoot your pants. Instead of saying, “I should have done this,” say, “It would have been nice that I did, but I didn’t, so now what?” Right?

Clint Davis:

Give yourself some grace and some mercy because man, we all screw it up, but we all are going to have to apologize for things and make amends. We’re all going to fall short. But if we do it in community, then we’re all vulnerably and humbly saying, “Hey, let’s do this together.” I screw up too. I dropped the ball on this when I was a parent, or I dropped the ball in this area. I’m really bad at this. How did you do it? How did you make it work out? Maybe we seek some professional help and let them walk this through together. Maybe we have a pastor who we meet with, maybe have a Bible study, maybe we have a women’s group, but we have to do it in community and not do it alone. And it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

Dr. Amy Moore:

That’s good advice. Good advice. So, we are going to put links then to Asking Why with Clint Davis, especially to those episodes that related to what we talked about with you, so that our listeners will have that. And we’ll look forward to getting some of those resources that you talked about so we can put those in the show notes as well. This has been a really eye opening conversation, but such an important one. And I just want to thank our guest, Clint Davis, for coming in and just telling it like it is, because this is important and we need to hear this as parents.

Teri Miller:

Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

For sure. So, if you’d like to connect with Clint or learn more about his work, you can visit clintdaviscounseling.com. We’ll put his social media handles in that link, in the show notes, along with all of those resources that we talked about. No, we’re not putting your social media handles. Are we? Because you’re-

Clint Davis:

[inaudible 00:51:31].

Dr. Amy Moore:

Oh, you are?

Clint Davis:

No, I’m on there. I just mean, I don’t have it on my phone and I don’t access as much.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Got you.

Clint Davis:

Yeah, I’m on there.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay.

Clint Davis:

I just don’t post personal things like pictures of my kids, things like that.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So you post resources.

Clint Davis:

resources and encouragement.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Excellent.

Clint Davis:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So we are going to post Clint’s social media handles in the show notes, for sure. So thank you so much for listening today. If you liked our show, we would love it if you would leave us a five star rating or review on Apple Podcasts. If you would rather watch us, we are also on YouTube. So you can subscribe to our channel at the Brainy Moms. We’re on social media, please follow us @TheBrainyMoms. So, look, until next time, we know you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms, so we’re out.

 

Teri: See ya!

Show Notes

Connect with Clint on social media
https://www.instagram.com/clintdaviscounselingllc
https://www.facebook.com/clintdaviscounseling

Visit his website:
http://www.clintdaviscounseling.com/

Listen to his podcast:
https://clintdaviscounseling.com/askingwhy/

Visit Clint’s YouTube Channel:
https://youtube.com/channel/UCspNkrmUF_J-PrEUdzp4ylA