Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Continual Sexualization of Kids...

... scares me so much, I sometimes wonder what I'll do when I become a mother. I just finished reading an article on the problem written by an Australian, but holds very true for the United States as well. From MercatorNet:

Who could have predicted even a decade ago that one of the pressing issues facing parents and psychologists in this century would be the marketing of adult sexuality to young children? Some optimists might dispute that producing little ballroom shoes with heels for two-year-olds amounts to any such thing; but thongs, bralettes and pole dancing kits for seven-year-olds are unambiguous signs of a trend that has forced professional groups and governments into action. 

In 2007 the American Psychological Association issued a report on the sexualisation of girls, noting that this form of self-objectification is linked with "three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression or depressed mood". 

Soon after, an Australian Senate committee held a public inquiry and reported in 2008 that "the inappropriate sexualisation of children in Australia is of increasing concern" and a "significant cultural challenge".
Earlier this year a report commissioned by the British Home Office confirmed that the sexualisation of young people (not just girls) is a serious issue. 

And yet, the sexualisation of children says more about our attitudes to sex than our attitudes to children. 

The heart of the problem is that children – people who are culturally, physically, and mentally too young to engage sexually as adults – are being moulded and modelled to match an eroticised adult culture... 

When sex is part of the package of getting married and having children, it is subject to a tighter set of conditions and responsibilities. Practical considerations such as income, accommodation, and general stability necessarily apply. Sex becomes just one aspect of a lifelong commitment to another person.
But if sex is divorced from all such conditions, then we are left with a merely natural and enjoyable act that is limited only by one’s choices and opportunities in life. This is the idealized form of sex in the modern world. All that remains is to maximize one’s sexual potential, by cultivating the sexual attributes considered most desirable in the present society. 

In the greater context of these opposing views of sex, the sexualisation of children has emerged as a point of conflict. The conflict arises because the vision of sex promoted by our culture is so free of constraints and responsibilities, that there is nothing in principle to dissuade or prevent children from being socialized into it. What, after all, are the requirements for sex in this idealized form? Consent, and opportunity. How can children prepare to take part in this aspect of the adult culture? By maximizing their sexual potential, in accordance with the sexual attributes considered desirable in our society."

To read the whole article, click here. I recommend you do.


Don said...

I honestly do not believe children can prepare. And, if so, at what point does such preparation hold the same amount of influence as peer pressure and the ways of the world.

Although I strongly emphasized the matter to my 16 year old daughter it had no bearing when it came to her losing her virginity. I sat and listened to her explanation (for having sex) and it left me mind boggled.

For every answer she provided, the base was covered not once or twice, but countless numbers of times during our previous conversations.

As a teenager I didn't too much fair any different. There wasn't too much of a will to sustain from having sex at the age of 16.

Since the world has become more fierce ... I hardly imagine that the majority of children will fair any better. At least not the ones who grow up in seriously dysfunctional households, where adult behaviors are often imitated.

Alisha De Freitas said...

"At least not the ones who grow up in seriously dysfunctional households, where adult behaviors are often imitated."

Amen, amen, amen.

What I think is pretty awesome is the fact she even SPOKE to you about having sex. Many (most???) kids wouldn't.

Can I ask, what were her reasons? Was it mainly peer pressure? What were your reasons?

I do think children and parents can prepare to a certain degree. There are crazy predators online and on social media sites. The answer is not to keep kids away from computers, but to let them know straight up of the dangers that exist (and WHY they are dangerous). I was hanging out with a girl I mentor yesterday and she was telling me how the police department came to her school and gave a lecture about online predators. It struck home to her. We have to talk to our kids, be models of good behavior and instill morals in them.

Ultimately, it will still be their decision, but at least we took an active role in it.

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