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Protecting Children from a Sexualized Childhood

by Diane Levin


Diane Levin

Diane Levin is an internationally recognized expert in helping professionals and parents understand and deal with the effects of violence, media and commercial culture on children. Read more »

Sorry, Diane Levin is no longer taking questions.

Helen recently wrote asking me for help dealing with the aftermath of the "High School Musical" birthday party her 5-year-old daughter had recently attended. At the party, the girls dressed up in fancy clothes and were taught how to do a special [i.e., sexy] dance by the high school-aged cousin of the birthday girl. After the HS Musical cake, the girls broke the HS Musical piñata to get their party favors -- temporary tattoos of the film's characters. The children did a special performance of the HS Musical dance when parents arrived to pick them up.

Helen's daughter loved the party and quickly started pleading to see the HS Musical movies. On a recent trip to a mass market store, her daughter kept pointing to the movie's products and got especially excited about the padded bra and bikini underpants set "in her size!" And she continued to practice her HS Musical dance both at home and in public places like the mall.

Helen puts it very well when she writes: "Isn't having HS Musical parties for 5-year-olds telling them loud and clear that the real film and products are for them? Doesn't it lure them into an interest in the real HS Musical thing that isn't appropriate for them?" She said she felt trapped as soon as the invitation to the party arrived and what happened afterward confirmed her concern. Should she have prevented her daughter from going to her friend's party? What should she do now that the floodgates have opened for a whole new set of stressors in the family?

Parents like Helen are increasingly coming to me to ask for help dealing with how they see today's sexualized environment affecting their children. The clothes they wear, toys they play with, and media they watch are part of an environment that uses sexiness (and violence for boys) to capture children's attention and get them to want to buy, buy, buy in order to be pretty and sexy. From a very young age, it is teaching harmful lessons about what it means to be a girl, objectifying relationships, and making it harder and harder for parents to do their job.

Jean Kilbourne and I wrote So Sexy So Soon to help parents protect their children from the new sexualized childhood as well as influence the lessons they are learning from it. Despite the fact that parents are often told "just saying 'no'" will solve the problem, we know that a very different approach is needed. Children desperately need the help of caring adults to work out an understanding of what they see, rather than being left to their own devices to figure things out.

Here are a few examples of the strategies we elaborate on in the book that help parents work with (rather than against) their children in positive and meaningful ways:

  • Know the media your child is seeing so you can have real conversations together about it and make informed decisions about what limits to set that you can explain and discuss with your child.
  • Create rituals and rules about the media in your child's life as well as when, how and what shopping occurs. This helps avoid constant nagging and stress. Children do better when they know what is going to happen and when.
  • Work to establish safe channels of communication, where your child knows she can talk to you about what she sees, hears and thinks without being embarrassed, ridiculed or punished. Children need a safe place to process what the sexualized environment exposes them to -- and parents can play an essential role in providing it.
  • Have give-and-take conversations that help you find out about what your child thinks and feels, so you can base your response on your child's understanding and needs.
  • Reduce gender stereotypes. Help daughters (and sons) develop a broad range of interests, skills and behaviors that get beyond the narrow focus on appearance that the sexualized childhood provides.
  • Work at all levels to create a society that is more supportive of children's healthy gender and sexual development. This includes promoting public policies that reduce the sexualization of children and limiting the power of corporations to market sex to children.

Have you dealt with an issue related to the sexualization of childhood with your child? What did you do? How did it work?

Sorry, Diane Levin is no longer taking questions. Feel free to comment on the article and let us know what you think about the topic.


Comments

Robin writes...

I think this is a very important issue to address. Here in the UK we have just had reports that 14 primary school children a day are being excluded from school due to sexual misconduct...

Diane? writes...

Robin,
I know that there are problems with the sexualized childhood in the UK too. Having lived there several years ago and been back for return visits, I have watched the UK go down the same road that we have here in the US (as have many other countries). Here we have children, as young as 4, who have been expelled from preschool for sexual misconduct. There a 6-year-old boy who will have his “misconduct” of touching a girl permanently on his school record through high school after the police were called in to arrest him.
It really worries me that society is punishing young children for doing what makes perfect sense given what they have been exposed to. Children work to figure out what they see by trying it out in their play and interaction with others. This is how they learn—by doing. They do not have the ability to sort out what is okay and what is not, the way adults can. We make a big mistake when we take an adult point of view in interpreting their efforts to make sense and then punish them. This will lead to more problems in the long run. Children need our help sorting out what they see, not our punishment. I hope efforts like this website to help parents understand the sexualized childhood will help us all become better at taking children’s point of view and developing more positive ways to help them negotiate the minefields!
Diane

Shelley writes...

I may be a young parent (mid 20s) but this kind of advertising and marketing has been going on since i was at least in middle school. My parents being fairly old fashioned would not allow me to wear just anything - my shirts had to have sleeves, my skirts and dresses had to reach at least to my knees, etc. Because they were very strict with my clothing when i wanted to dress like the 'other' girls at school, i grew up with a healthy sense of self-respect. While talking to children is a great start what i think we all must do for our children is to BE a parent and not be afraid of the consequence. My parents weren't afraid and it helped me in the long run, even though i was plenty mad at them at that time. :)

Diane? writes...

You are right, Shelley. This is not a new problem. It really began in the mid-1980s when you were a young child. That is when the Federal Communications Commission deregulated television. This is when it became possible to use TV programs to market toys and other products to children for the first time. There was an instant transformation of the childhood culture with the violent Masters of the Universe, GI Joe and Transformers programs and products for little boys, and the pretty and sweet Care Bears and My Little Pony for little girls. There were hundreds of products linked to the shows and they sold like hotcakes. Ever since deregulation, there has been a steady escalation of the violence and sexiness used to market products to children through the media and it has permeated bigger and bigger parts of their lives at younger ages.
This has made parenting more difficult. It sounds like your parents worked hard to prevent the onslaught of this marketing from having an undue influence on you and you feel good about it now. That's great. But there are more and more things to say “no” to today, and saying “no” often doesn’t prevent children from being exposed anyway. So today’s parents need to do a lot more than just saying “no” to counteract the harm being caused by today's commercialization of childhood and its not fair to children, parents or parent-child relationships!

ariel rainey writes...

I wanted to know if it was good for my children's development to watch Spongebob. Lately my one year old and three year old only wants to watch this cartoon.

They are just now getting into Brney and I feel bad.

Diane? writes...

This is a great question, Ariel, one that many parents of young children don’t ask as their children gradually spend more and more time glued to a screen. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for children under the age of 2. This is something to aim for, but as you suggest in your message, it’s not always easy to follow, especially when there are older children around. Sponge Bob is better than many shows in terms of its content, but it is so fast paced and exiting it can make real life seem boring when the program ends. So it can lure children into wanting more and more screen time, as you are now finding out as your children are now asking for Barney too. Sponge Bob also has as many products linked to it as many of the worse shows. So it can easily lure children into wanting to buy more and more.
There is a lot you can do to reduce the influence of the screen on your children so you won’t have to worry so much. It’s not always easy and you don’t need to be perfect in what you do! It is a project that will be part of your parenting for years to come! As a starter, I suggest trying to have simple rules and rituals so your children get into a regular TV routine they understand—for instance, when they are young the can watch the same show everyday at the same time—before dinner or after lunch. This can reduce the constant nagging and escalation. I also recommend trying to avoid buying the products associated with the program as much as possible. Once you begin buying them, there are always more to buy. Young children do better when there is a simple rule like “We don’t buy Sponge Bob products, in our family we just watch the show."
Finally, I suggest you go to the website of an organization I am a founder of, Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment—(www.truceteachers.org). TRUCE prepares materials to help parents deal thoughtfully with the media in their children’s lives. You can download the TRUCE MEDIA AND YOUNG CHILDREN ACTION GUIDE. It is packed with information about how to deal with the media in children’s lives. You will also find the TRUCE TOYS AND YOUNG CHILDREN ACTION GUIDE which was written to help parents promote quality playtime as an alternative to screen time.

Lauren writes...

I'm not a parent. I'm a 13 yr old tomboy, but I definately understand what you're saying. I see it every day. I think one of the things you can do is to ask your kids teachers if their behaving, because most of the girls at my school (private) are fine when their parents drop them off, then they roll the waistbands of their skirts up in the bathroom so that their really short. I also think you should be careful what movies you let them/us watch, even pg13s. pg13s have a lot of sexual content now that they didn't use to have, and so the other girls want to be like the girls in the movie, like HSM.One girl in my class started shaving in 2nd grade just to look pretty! When I was in Target one day, I saw a 2nd grader pointing to a black bra and shouting to her mom, "I HAVE to have that one!" It just makes me sad.

Diane? writes...

Thank you for writing, Lauren. I am impressed that a 13 year old is looking at and reading a web blog like this one. And I appreciate your contributing your ideas and concern about this issue. It’s really helpful for me and the other older readers of this blog to see how the sexualized world of childhood looks to someone your age. It’s easy for us to make the mistake of lumping all youth into the same mold. And you show us that it’s not necessarily only grow-ups who worry about it. I have heard stories like the one you tell of girls in your class changing clothes once they get to school because their parents won’t let them wear the sexualized clothes they feel they need to be popular. It makes me very sad and worries me a lot that parents and children are at such odds with each other—that kids need to sneak around and defy their parents to live up to a standard media and marketers create to make money! It can so easily lead to a “war” in the family. The more ways kids and parents find to talk about these issues with each other, the more likely they are to find ways to stay connected, work out things out in a safe and fair way, and not have wars. Do you talk to you parents about these issues? I bet they would be interested in hearing your ideas. I wrote my book, "So Sexy So Soon," to help parents find ways to do just that. Please keep up the good work of observing, reflecting and sharing your ideas.

Veronica writes...

I worry about what my children watch. My husband and I remind our children that commercials are just a way of someone getting you to buy their products and may not be telling you the whole truth in regards to what they sell. What we do is limit what my children watch. Channels with commercials are seldom seen in the house only on special occasions. And movies are G unless we have already seen the movie without them and are aware of its content. My kids are 3 and 5 and so far doing okay. I am worried about what the future holds for them and I try to be as honest as I can to prepare them and myself as they get older.

Diane? writes...

Veronica, The things you are doing to protect your children from the media onslaught are very important— carefully choosing the media you let them see, watching it yourself in advance, paying attention to ratings. It is also very valuable to talk to them about what they are seeing, including ads. Staying connected and having conversations is one of the best ways to influence the impact what they see will have on them. Give-and-take conversations often work better than just telling children the right way to think about what they’ve seen. For instance, you can ask questions about their reactions to a show (both positive and negative): “I didn’t like it when ____ happened. What did you think? I wonder what else they could have done instead?” You can help your children develop an understanding of advertising and marketing: “Let’s watch the show together and try to figure out when it’s the ad and when it’s the show.” Don’t expect them to always give the “right” answer. Children don’t think the way adults do and need to have room to try out their ideas. As you do have conversations to together, you will be paving the way for staying connected with your children, as they get older. And as you have less control of the media that gets in, you will still be able to talk about it with each other and influence the lessons they learn. Don’t expect that, at the end, your children will think exactly the way you do! But you will be having a big influence on the ideas they develop and helping fortify them to resist many of the harmful messages.

Teresa writes...

All I can think is that I'm scared. Today I heard of an eight year old girl who was pregnant. What is the world coming to? How do we protect our kids? I mean how can you protect your child and not completely shield them from the real world?

Diane? writes...

Yes, Teresa, there are scary things happening to today’s children and caring adults can’t protect them from all of the dangers.

Helping children feel and be safe is everyone’s responsibility. The burden shouldn’t fall just on parents. That is, we should ask our schools to play their rightful role in helping us by providing comprehensive and age-appropriate social/emotional and sex education.

Now, more than ever, we need schools to help children learn how to build caring relationships and solve conflicts on the playground. Schools should also provide sex education at appropriate ages where children can safely ask questions about the sexual messages they are getting from pop culture and the world around them. I often work with teachers and schools to help them develop this kind of program. While it is not easy, it is very heartening to see the positive roles schools can play.

Ariel writes...

Those guides you recommended were very helpful! Thank You!

I have another concern with my children. My son is very hard headed and seems to not want to do what I say. He asks why and he throw tantrums. I grew up in a household where spankings were very common, but I want to steer away from that and teach my son without laying hands on him.

What should I do to discipline him?

Diane? writes...

Dear Ariel, I'm glad to hear that you found my earlier comments about your young children's interest in television helpful. Tantrums are common among young children and it can be upsetting and hard for parents to know what to do. It's good you are thinking about alternatives to spanking, because that doesn't necessarily help you child learn how to deal with what is troubling him. There isn't one easy answer about what to do instead of spanking but there is a lot you can do. Some good books have been written on this subject which will help you like "Positive Discipline" by Jane Nelsen, Cheryl Erwin and Roslyn Duffy (there is one book for The First Three Years and one for The Preschool Years). I also suggest writing back to this blog beginning January 19, when Michael Thompson will be the expert taking questions about boys' behavior and school issues. I know he will have some interesting suggestions for you too.

Billie writes...

What do you say to your mother-in-law that her way of raising her children are over and Im the parent and I want to reason with out spanking my child he is almost 5 and a great kid except when he is tired and he is almost outta control but I still think I can talk at his level and reason with him since he is human and we get reasoned with every day of our lives its part of growing older Spanking is not always the answer is it????

Diane? writes...

Dear Billie, you are to be commended for trying to find ways to help your son grow and develop without using physical punishment. Doing so will help him be less likely to see violence as a way to solve problems; a lesson we want all children to learn.

As far as how to work with your mother-in-law, please come back to the Expert Q & A beginning January 19. Michael Thompson, an expert on raising boys, will be taking questions about boys' behavior and school issues. If you write back then, he should be able to help you.

Amy writes...

What do I do about toys that I feel are inappropriate for my son/daughter that they are given as gifts for birthdays or holidays? A friend of ours got my three-year-old daughter a Barbie in a bikini for Christmas! She was so excited for her "dolly" and it made me so sad. I've already taken it away but I'm sure it confuses her that I would take away her present. The same is true for my son whenever he receives "superhero" character toys, or spongebob, or most media-linked toys that I don't appreciate. It was easier when they were young because they didn't notice when it was missing. Now it's difficult because they get so excited and then mommy takes it away. How can I talk to them about it and what can I do to help our friends figure this out?! I've taken to making online wish lists, which can look a bit elitist and pushy...but I'm not sure what else to do!? Thanks for any insight anyone might have!

Diane? writes...

Dear Amy,

You are right. There are many toys out there that do not have the best interests of your children at heart. For instance, they promote extreme gender stereotypes—sexualized for girls and violent for boys, as is clear from the toys you describe your daughter and son receiving as gifts. They are made to look very exciting to children, but they actually are so highly-structured that they tell children exactly how they should play. Children have a hard time bringing in their own ideas, so the toys can quickly become boring.

Just as you say, Amy, it’s a struggle to figure out how to keep these toys away from children and what to do with them once your children have them. And often, even if you succeed at protecting your children from these kinds of toys, they end up playing with them at their friends houses, so they are exposed anyway.

What to do is a challenge, but I can offer these suggestions:

• First, you’re right to try to protect your children as much as possible—and to encourage play with more open ended and less stereotyped toys that give your children room to bring in their own ideas and make the play change and grow.
• Second, help your children become good players which means keeping screens in their lives under control as well as valuing their play, talking to them about it, even playing with them sometimes.
• Third, when your children do get these toys and you feel you can’t have them quietly disappear anymore, help them integrate the toys into their more creative play with more open ended toys. If your son takes his action figure into the bathtub, the water can help the play expand beyond the punching. Making pretend food with play dough can help your daughter get beyond focusing just on how Barbie looks. Also talk to your kids about the toys—for instance, “I wonder why Barbie has so few clothes on? I don’t know anyone who wears things like that.” Or, “I wonder why that action figure has such big muscles? What do you think?”
• Fourth, you can go to the Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment website (www.truceteachers.org) and down load our 2008-09 Toy Action Guide. It has many ideas about how to choose toys and promote play, and talks about why this is important. And most importantly, in the case of the questions you ask, Amy, you can give the guide to other parents and family members to help them make better gift choices for your children.

Lawanna writes...

I am so happy that this topic is being addressed. I am the mother of a 4 year old who is getting ready to turn 5 as well as a teacher in middle school. I see the kids being subjected to sex early and it constantly on their minds. I was concerned about my daughter who is talking about having a boyfriend already and my husband and I were wondering how to get headed to think about other things.

Diane? writes...

Lawanna, you are not the first parent to ask me this question! I’ve been hearing about preschoolers and kindergartners talking about boyfriends and girlfriends more and more. Children try to figure out what they see. And in this sexualized childhood, they certainly see a lot of teen dating behavior, especially in the media - even in media supposedly for children, like Hanna Montana.

I suggest doing three things:

• Try to protect your daughter from exposure in the media as much as possible.

• Have give-and-take conversations with her about what she does see or begins talking about. For instance, if she says, “I have a boyfriend,” you might ask, “What do you know about boyfriends?” It may turn out that this "boyfriend" is a boy who is a friend or a boy who she likes to play with. Or, it may mean more than that to her. What she says should guide how you respond. It’s important to remember that children may use the same terms as adults, but often they don’t mean the same thing. But whatever your daughter responds, continue to have such conversations, which will get more sophisticated as she gets older. It’s really helpful to children to know they can talk to their parents about these things.

•Try to avoid narrow gender stereotypes with your daughter. Also, help her develop a broad range of interests, so she has many ways of feeling good about herself.

L writes...

I am extremely frustrated by TV in general regarding placement of their commercials. For example, I might have on a nature show (rate G) for my 5 and 6-year-old children to watch only for a commercial for some sexual enhancement product being talked about (usually blaring as commercials get louder than regular programming). I also regularly see commercials for Gardasil - basically a vaccination for girls against an STD they wouldn't get if they practiced (and were encouraged) abstinence instead. I believe TV is part of our culture, and we as parents must monitor what is "consumed." There are many, many fascinating programs for the family, and I believe TV can become more than entertainment -- if only the commercials were properly placed.

THimathy writes...

I am worried about my 5-year-old. She is a very good child, but she always plays with 6-8 year-olds. She likes princess stories and now, she is asking questions about love, marriage and princes kissing princesses.

One day she saw a movie with her friend (princess movie). When I entered the room, I was surprised that they were ready to kiss each other following the movie. I am so worried and need help with talking to her about this.

Edited for clarification by Tracey at PBS Parents.

Diane? writes...

Dear Thimathy, as I’ve said in some of my other posts, children try out things they see on the screen in their play and with other children for many perfectly normal reasons—for instance, in order to try to understand what they saw better, or to help workout something that was scary, or because it looks fun and exciting.

We often become upset, because we bring our adult eyes to what we see, rather than trying to learn more about our children’s point of view. Yes, you’re right, it can be helpful to talk to our children when they do these things. It can help us find out more about what they are thinking and decide how to respond based on what we think will be helpful.

So, having found your daughter kissing her friend, you might want to ask an open-ended question like, “I saw you kissing Hannah. How come you wanted to kiss her?” If she says, “Because we’re princesses and princesses like to kiss,” you might say, “You’re right, they do. I wonder why? ” If she says, “Because we’re best friends,” you might talk more about their friendship and all of the things they like to do with each other. The discussion might resume at a later time, when they see another princess movie (I recommend trying to keep as light a diet of them as possible).

Ahana writes...

My son is 7 yrs. old. Every year of his growing up, he follows a particular "theme:" Whales at 4, Thomas the train at 5 and Nascar at 6.

This year we have already gone through Sponge Bob and Star Wars. Now, halfway through his 7th year, we have to deal with i Carly and Drake and Josh which are rated Y7. They appear to be benign, but do not make sense at all because all they talk about on the show is girlfriends and boyfriends! I mean c'mon, aren't they all ready hearing enough from the media and school!

Let's please save our childrens' childhood and their sweet innocence.They will get under gender pressure eventually. Until then, let's at least not encourage this and urge policy makers to stop airing such shows or change their content to be more sensible and age appropriate!
-- Ahana

Edited for clarification by Tracey at PBS Parents.

Diane? writes...

Ahana, TV and movie ratings can be very helpful as a starting point for deciding what is appropriate for your son to watch—but only as a starting point.

Did you know that child development experts do not generally determine the ratings? Panels of laypeople are the raters. They don’t know your child, what you want for your child or even a lot about what impact the show might have on your child (or other children). In addition, the industry, not an independent board, appoints the rating panels.

So, I suggest parents go beyond the ratings. Watch programs yourself when possible. Look at the more reliable web sites that do their own ratings like Common Sense Media. Make the final decision yourself.

liz writes...

Well I'm glad I'm not the only parent going through this. My 5 yr. old is acting like a teenager, and is always saying she looks hot or sexy, so for now I let her know she can be cute or adorable, and 5 yr.olds are not hot and sexy. Any suggestions please help. She recently asked me about the s word sex. Isn't she too young to know that stuff?

Diane? writes...

Dear Liz, yes, this is a difficult world for us to be raising our children in. Kids are learning too much too soon. That said, this is the world we are raising our children in, so we have to do the best we can to help them deal with what they are learning. And there is a lot we can do.

I suggest going to the web site of my book, "So Sexy So Soon" (www.sosexysosoon.com). There you'll find “Tips” for helping younger and older children grow up in today’s sexualized childhood, ranging from how to protect them, how to help them deal with what they've seen or heard, how to influence the lessons they are learning and how to work with other parents and schools.

Mark writes...

Today our children are growing up faster than ever and I think that it is something that we will all have to accept but there are still limits as to what your child should be exposed to particularly in the formative years.

nicole writes...

Mark, you're completely on point. I have a 4 1/2 yr. old girl and a 2 1/2 yr. old boy. As a working mom, I'm entrusting some of their care to a nanny. Though she does a wonderful job, I've found that some of her nanny friends expose their charges to tv programs and merchandise that I don't find suitable for my children.

A few days ago, my 2 1/2 year-old was reciting lines from Scooby Doo and gasp, Sponge Bob! Then, he acted as if he was pointing a gun!!

I told my nanny that she can take my kids to playdates, but I do not want the tv running in the background. My daughter called me "mean," which stung, but I got over it.

As you said, these are the years that really matter.

Diane? writes...

Nicole, you and Mark (above) are right. Limit setting is definitely an important part of dealing effectively with today’s sexualized childhood. But, as I responded to Shelley’s January 6th post, all too often parents are told that if they could just say "no," there wouldn’t be a problem. This is NOT correct!

I often talk about the “12 Reasons Why Just Saying ‘No’ Isn’t Enough.” For instance, it can cut us off from our children, leading them to sneak and do things behind our backs. That said, we do need to protect our kids and sometimes this means saying “no.”

How we do it becomes important. For instance, how we explain it (“I know you like it, but I’m the mommy, and I need to do what I think is best for you,”) and how we acknowledge our children’s angry feelings (“I can see it makes you really angry. I’m sorry. I know you liked watching it.)

And, Nicole, it’s great you’re working with your nanny. Most parents rely on other adults to help in their child rearing. The more they know what each other is doing and workout what is and isn’t okay, the better.

Elaine Gross writes...

I totally agree! As a mother of four and Educator I HAVE HAD IT WITH ALL OR MOST OF THE SHOWS THAT COME ON THE DISNEY CHANNEL AFTER 3:00PM. Time and Time again I ask myself where are the decent programs for the 6-12 year old girls!
As parents now is the time to take a stand!

I am with you 100%!

Elaine Gross writes...

I totally agree! As a mother of 4 raising 2 girls I question most of the evening shows on The Disney Channel!
They are totally not age appropriate for girls 6-11. Time and Time again I have been writing shows like Trya, The View and others about this topic and no one seems interested.
CAREFUL!!!!!!!
Disney will take your girl from A Disney Princess to a Hot Rocker!

Something has to be done!

Deanna writes...

I have solutions for several of your problems. I am the mother of 3 kids (7yr old boy, 4yr old boy, & 20 month-old girl). We do not have cable or satellite. My children enjoy PBS cartoons. I feel really good because most of them also teach academic content along with entertainment. (How about SuperWhy!) My kids do occasionally watch pay-TV shows at my Mom's house, and some of those are really great, too. I check out DVDs of those shows from my library. My kids get the benefits of non-sexual, commercial-free, educational entertainment for free.
It is REALLY hard to keep our children young these days, but you must discuss with your children why they cannot watch these shows, or get this merchandise. Also, let grandparents and caregivers know that you do not ALLOW your children to watch these. Example: I do not let my children watch Sponge-Bob (I think it encourages misbehavior and I am unsure about the lack of sexual content...he is a sponge that lives in Bikini-Bottom.) My kids will turn off the TV if they see it come on, and they have voluntarily left the room at other kids houses when it was on.

Tina Blanden writes...

I have been a kindergarten teacher for 34 years and I agree whole heartily with this article. My 5 yr. old girls are excited about going to the spa, having their finger nails and toes painted all for their 6th birthday. It breaks my heart to know that they have the mind of a teenager in a 5 yr. old body.

J.R. Lombardo writes...

I appreciate Deanna's comments and struggle with the same issues. We do make efforts with our children; they do not have TV's in their rooms and television time is very limted in our home. This is partly because my wife and I are not big televison viewers ourselves so it is our culture in our home. When the grandmothers babysit, however, often the TV is left running in the background, always with childrens programming though not programs we support, such as spongebob. We struggle with intervening on this issue as we appreciate the babysitting service and enjoy that our children spend their time in the company of family members. I am also painfully aware that our culture and their peers have much different experiences outside of our home so I try and use these differences as "teachable moments" with our kids. This is not done in the spirit of putting the other children or their caregivers down, but to point to the beauty of diversity and to reinforce our; mom and dad's, values. Certainly we cannot sheild our kids from the norms and values of their peers, our community and society at large. So we do our best to teach to and through these differences. There is a wodnerful book called "The Nurture Assumption' by Harris that is powerful and scary regarding what part parenting plays in all this; we may give ourselves too much credit.

Yessy writes...

I have two daughters, ages 8 and 4. I share the same concerns with all of the parents in this forum. I could go on for hours on this topic, but I just wanted to suggest to the other parents to be proactive and try to find positive role models for your children. My daughters are enrolled in dance classes and they keep doing it not only because they enjoy dancing, but also because I think the older girls they dance with are good role models for my children. The instructors are strict and expect them to behave (and dress) properly in class, performances or competitions.
Just another suggestion.
Thank you.

David writes...

One simple solution: get rid of your TVs!

But a DVD player, so that YOU and only YOU control what your children watch. Buy children's DVDs for them which YOU approve of. Otherwise, the Jew-owned media will brainwash them into becoming the next generation of pornographic victims. (I won't use that stupid phrase 'porn star' because there are no 'stars' in pornography, only victims.)

This is all part of the Jews' plan to completely destroy America (and all other white countries) and turn us into good little citizens, with no sense of family, no sense of race, no loyalty to each other, no purpose in life at all, except buying more and more useless junk, from our Jewish masters...

You don't think so? Just compare the USA in 1950 to now.

David writes...

Typo:
BUY a DVD player, not
'But' a DVD player.

queen writes...

i wanted to know if the older people are thinking a bout their children,this has nothhing to do with religon. if it is wrong for a man to molest a little boy why is it not right right for two men to sleep together and the two men adopt a lil boy now he see them kiss and sleep together is that fair to the child to follow adaption? Is it fair the child can not make his/her choice?If a girl is dressed like boy an believe she has male organs and grabbin her self between the thighs and flirting with innocent girls and they both has the same part on body isnt that a delusion of some one of a actor.How can you mix physco with some one who was born with both organs i believe if these people aren't happy with self the doctors should let them have surgery.in stead of having clubs in schools waisting tax payers dollars or get therapy because their confused. Be honest kids should have a chance unless there is no such word called Gender and the scientist were wrong the school and the dicionary can we help the children in schools an the media an adults should consult their doctors on this issue save the children.

queen writes...

i wanted to know if the older people are thinking a bout their children,this has nothhing to do with religon. if it is wrong for a man to molest a little boy why is it not right right for two men to sleep together and the two men adopt a lil boy now he see them kiss and sleep together is that fair to the child to follow adaption? Is it fair the child can not make his/her choice?If a girl is dressed like boy an believe she has male organs and grabbin her self between the thighs and flirting with innocent girls and they both has the same part on body isnt that a delusion of some one of a actor.How can you mix physco with some one who was born with both organs i believe if these people aren't happy with self the doctors should let them have surgery.in stead of having clubs in schools waisting tax payers dollars or get therapy because their confused. Be honest kids should have a chance unless there is no such word called Gender and the scientist were wrong the school and the dicionary can we help the children in schools an the media an adults should consult their doctors on this issue save the children.

Ady writes...

I have a 14 year old girl. I am very protective of my children and compared to the way my sisters raise thier children I am very strict. I don't let my girls cuss or use substitutions for cuss words. I don't let them use words like stupid or dum or retard! I also don't let them negatively critisize each other! I try to make them be nice about any criticism that they give each other! Instead of saying you look ugly withyour hair like that! I make them say something like your hair in that style doesn't show your pretty face or something to that matter instead of using mean words! I feel that I have done everything to teach my children about how boys will act and what they will say to be able experiment sexually with a girl. I also keep my girls, as they say, on a very short leash! I don't let them go places where there will be no parental supervision, alcohol & drugs, or a chance for them to sneak off and get involved with these things. I feel that I have taught my children that they are so much better than "those kinda girls that do that stuff"! I let my two oldest girls go to the local community spring festival. They participated in the parade and then went to the small fair afterward. My oldest snuck off with some boy that she has not seen in 2 years and according to her sister was hanging all over him throughout this fair. When it came time for them to meet up to come home, the younger one couldn't find her! When she did the older one and this boy were coming out from behind some tree and were fixing thier clothes. My daughter was fixing her shirt and the boy was buttoning his pants. The boy later told their friend that she was "jacking him off" WHAT DO I DO? I freaked out! I don't know if I should take to a DR. some where or BEAT SOME SENSE into her or What! I know she is boy crazy! But she has been a flirt since she was in 1st grade! She has always been the pretty girl in school. The popular, smart social butterfly! But I just don't know what to do! Her father left, according to his side of the story, I made him leave when she was four! December of 1998! He showed up maybe 4 times in the next 3 years after that! I feel that the only reason he came back was because Child support found him and he couldn't figure out a way to dodge them anymore! But Then in 2004 He started showing up a little more frequently! And I haven't done anything right since then! He makes empty promises and she accepts every excuse he gives her. He is racist! Yet I am of a different race! He makes racist remarks about our race over and over again and she sees no wrong in it! But when he left I couldn't persue a college education. I had three babies to support and no help from anyone! I am at a loss! Is this attention that she seeks because she wants a male figure to fill that void of her father or did I raise her wrong? I am so confused??????

Ruth writes...

I'm a very concerned grandmother. I have one 12 month old granddaughter that loved her musical ball, piano,and a doorway that has a doorbell, maildox, radio,clock,the sun and moon etc. Are these the type of toys that are BAD for children? Our baby loved exploring these toys.

Please let me know. My son and daughter in law have taken all her learning toy that makes a sound away since they heard about your study.

Sincerely,

Ruth

Tracy writes...

I am so frustrated by the things my 1st grader and 3rd grader are coming home talking about. The kids around them are using language filled with sexual undertones. My daughter came home and asked me what a "ho" is. I should not have to have these conversations at this age! A little boy in her class has been commenting on her clothing, telling her what the boys will and will not like. Then at her baton recital one of the groups danced to a song filled with sexual undertones. I feel like it is a constant bombardment. How do you protect them from that?

Annah writes...

I'm 13 and most of my peers are so very over sexualized. A few girls have babies, and a significant percentage are having sex... it's very sad. :(

I admire you and thank you for trying to wake people up with all the great information you are putting out there.

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So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids by Diane Levin. Buy it from Amazon.

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