Parents, educators and child advocates are becoming more aware of the pressures and messages media and culture are surrounding young children with – children too young to understand and make good choices for themselves – and are speaking out about such practices.
The Today Show (and MSNBC) recently had Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne on their show (see the Q and A and sample chapter) to talk about the sexualization of children in the media and our culture and to promote their new book, So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids.
The authors raise important issues, such as the fact that sexual images are being used to target younger and younger children, and that the sexualization of children -- especially of young women -- also affects young men. They say:
"Boys learn to see girls as objects and judge and value them by how they look and how 'sexy' they are. And boys are taught to conform to a very narrow definition of masculinity — being tough and invulnerable and aggressive. This can make it very difficult for boys to become men capable of having positive, caring, and connected relationships."
Another book on the same topic was recently released: The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It by M. Gigi Durham.
Media has a strong influence on the choices that we all make, and since younger children have less facility with critical thinking and making healthy, positive choices, the effects can be even more significant and long-lasting.
Resources like these can provide useful insights for discussing such issues in the humane education classroom, or in making choices for our own children.