Friday, November 7, 2008

So Sexy So Soon

The dangers of hyper-sexualizing children have been well documented. Dads (and moms) are distressed by, frightened by and sick of the onslaught of “sexualized” messages and images raining down on our daughters—and sons.

Two women for whom I have the greatest respect have written a guide for parents on how to deal with this problem: “So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect their Kids” by Dr. Jean Kilbourne and Dr. Diane Levin. Jean and Diane are veteran researchers and advocates on marketing to children and I’ve shared platforms with them many times through the years. This new book is very, very needed and very well done.

For children today, learning about sex too soon is only one problem. Another serious issues is what the authors call “the synthetic and cynical source of a child’s information.” Popular culture and technology shower mixed and developmentally inappropriate messages on young children who don’t yet have the emotional sophistication to understand what they are hearing and seeing.

The result: kids have distorted, unhealthy notions about sex, sexuality, their bodies, relationships, gender—the list goes on. On top of that, some kids are getting into increasing trouble emotionally and socially by engaging in precocious sexual behavior. We are left with little girls wanting to go on diets so they can be “sexy,” little boys getting suspended from school for sexual harassment, and parents in desperate need of guidance.

“So Sexy So Soon” provides it. If you’re the dad (or mom) of children today--or if you care about human relationships--read it.

(Joe Kelly runs,/ blogs @ and has written books about healthy father-daughter relationships.)

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