The Sexualization of Childhood

The Sexualization of Childhood

The Sexualization of Childhood

The Sexualization of Childhood

Synopsis

Only a generation or two ago, childhood in the United States was understood to be a unique and vulnerable stage of development; a time for play and protection from adult preoccupations and responsibilities. In recent decades however, we appear to have jettisoned these norms, and the lines that separate the lifestyles of even very young children from adults are blurring. As widely known experts on the team that created this book explain, children begin formal education now in preschool, dress like adults, listen to the same music, play the same video games, explore the same Internet sites, and watch explicit depictions of sex and violence on TV and in movies. What is the impact of immersing children in a sexualized world? The Sexualization of Childhood first explains the nature of healthy sexual development. It then describes the ways in which children are being sexualized, and the physical and psychological consequences. It then looks at the lower and lower age at which girls are experiencing puberty, that reduction being fueled by the pseudoestrogens in so many of our foods and products, as well as obesity. Finally, it examines what we can do legally, politically, and as caregivers to protect children from developmentally inappropriate sexual experiences.

Excerpt

Sharna olfman

A few decades ago in the United States, childhood was understood to be a unique and vulnerable stage of development; a time for play and protection from adult preoccupations and responsibilities. in recent decades, however, we appear to have jettisoned these norms, and the lines that separate the lifestyles of even very young children from adults are blurring. in today’s world, children dress like miniature adults, and creative outdoor play is being replaced by media entertainment that is saturated with sex, violence, and gender stereotyping. Internet pornography is easily and routinely accessed by preteen boys, and pornographic depictions of women and girls have been glamorized, mainstreamed, and marketed to children through dolls, clothing lines, video games, comic books, music, magazines, television, and movies.

A sexualized society places all children at risk for internalizing impoverished models of gender and human relationships. Girls are vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse in a culture that depicts females as objects for male pleasure. According to the landmark 2007 report by the American Psychological Association (APA) task force on the sexualization of girls, girls who are sexualized are more prone to eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem, impaired concentration, risky sexual behaviors, and unsatisfying sexual relations when they are older. Boys are also victims; they risk losing a piece of their humanity when they are flooded with images—through video games, film, television, and online pornography—of sexually brutalized women whose sole function is to pleasure men. But the children who . . .

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