The hyper-sexualisation of children. What does that even mean? Most parents won’t be aware that there is a global attempt at corporate pornification of young girls. However, a huge amount of parents will also have seen their children partake in dance shows where they have been dressed in very skimpy outfits, wearing make-up and dancing in highly sexual ways. A lot of parents will have felt uncomfortable looking at this. Yet didn’t not have the language or perhaps a fellow parent to suggest, actually I’m uncomfortable with this. I don’t want this for my child.
Hyper-sexualisation of children through mainstream media is a huge issue. Here in Ireland, there has been little or no commentary about it. However, this country is only following directly in the footsteps of countries who have had longer access to the online world. Each step taken forward, is leading to the exact same issues these other countries are now trying to address.
So what does Hyper-sexualisation of children mean? It is the exposure to sexualized messages that children are absorbing every single day. It hits them through, music, billboards, print media, the online world, on their mobile phones, all digital devices including tablets and gaming consoles. Through satellite and terrestrial T.V. and also movies, As well as their interaction with their own peers and adults. So there is not just one avenue of exposure there are multiple ones that afford immeasurable exposure to sexualized messages of varying levels of extremity.
There is a global imitative an attempt by some seriously wealthy and powerful individuals to normalise the pornification and hyper-sexualisation of children. We are failing to address the content and fight for our children to protect them against this exposure. As a direct consequence we end up with an article in a magazine called Details, it’s a version of Cosmopolitan for men. The article was called, “How Internet porn is changing teen sex?” “The girls these days, they just seem to come to the set porn-ready.” That is a direct quote from Joanna Angel a female pornography producer.
I have a daughter and two boys. Personally I don’t want to see their innocence ever taken from them. As a family that has been broken by the corrupting I endured within An Garda Siochana, their wellbeing is of paramount importance to me. We have sat and watched shows like American Pickers, Pawn Stars and others, all who place incredible value on things related to childhood. Childhood is special, there is a level of innocence that you can never return to as an adult. No matter how hard we try, we can’t go back once it is taken away.
We know that harmful experiences in youth can scar a person for life. Our children are constantly being hyper-sexualised from the moment that they first use any form of a digital device. All through the content they absorb through online platforms and existing traditional media. What will they associate their youth with in years to come?
We have an obligation as parents to prevent the hyper-sexualisation of children. Dr Gail Dines a leader in the field of educating people against the harm of pornography captures this sentiment well. “Culture is socializing our young girls to be ready for pornography, whether they ever end up on a porn site or not.” We are seeing an enormous rise in sexual assaults, initiated by children on children. We are seeing more and more young girls appearing on T.V. shows dancing in highly sexualised ways, with very little clothing. This is seriously stealing children of their youth and also priming them for sexual exploitation. It is also reducing these young girls to consider themselves as no more than sexual entities. Existing for the sexual gratification of others. That’s not the message I want for my daughter to grow up with.
When convicted sexual predators come out with a phrase like “The culture did a lot of the grooming for me.”, we need to wake up a little. Shake the excuse of my child will be fine off. You child will not be fine. Your lack of attention, involvement and action will put that child at serious risk. Dr Gail Dines goes on to say that “culture is mass-perpetrating against our girls. It used to be that you needed an individual perpetrator to perpetrate against an individual girl. Not anymore.”
The work of the sexual predator is being done by the media and online access to harmful sexualised content. Adults are normalising the exchange of self-generated sexual images of themselves. How can we honestly go to children and teens and suggest there is harm in doing this if adults are laughing and joking about it. Normalising a behaviour that essentially criminalizes children and turns them in to porn stars being sexually exploited and human trafficked in their own homes.
Think about this for just a moment. There are children who are constant exposed to sexualized content, every day. Day in and day out. They are now hit at lightning speed from nearly every direction. Also this is happening for their entire childhood. Unfortunately, this is all happening without any guidance or intervention from parents. Even though it is essential to help our children be able to sort through all of this and make some sense of it all.
The sexual content children see, is not only explicit but also violent and demeaning in nature towards females. Male dominant and gratification is the norm. Females are submissive with misogynistic, heterosexist, homophobic, and sensational all par for the course. This is happening folks. All in front of our own eyes. Yet who is highlighting this?
Adults are essentially creating this problem for children. But parents are responsible for the care of their children ultimately. Unless we can get parents on board with us, we will fail to protect the innocence of children. However, one thing that life has thought me, over the hardship of the last few years, is that you only fail if you give up. Children of the Digital Age has no intention of giving up. So we would ask you also not to. Stand next to us. Come on board with us and let’s expose this. Let’s make everyone aware of the threats children are now facing.
We can do this. It is possible to limit the access children have to harmful online content. It’ss possible to educate children, so that they can identify the risks and hazards they encounter online and through traditional media in the home. We know that it is possible, to ensure young girls do not end up believing they need to be naked or sexualized to get attention or move forward in life. But we all need to work together.
Would you be willing to be part of a movement to protect the innocence of children? Can you support us through the Covid-19 pandemic, to keep us going. If you can, we invite you to join us here at Children of the Digital Age to help spread this message.
For Children of the Digital Age, the protection of children both online and off is a priority. We have created an Online Safety and Parental Control Guide, to help parents protect the children from online harm. This 230 page E-Book costs little more than a cup of coffee. All funding raised from the sale of this digital publication, will go directly to the development of our online safety programs for children, teens and parents.