Thursday, June 15, 2006

Our Responsiblity.

How many Dateline NBC’s “To Catch A Predator” are there out now? Like 5 or something?


Each time, I find myself equally disgusted and appalled. It's a cookie-cutter show, each episode similar to the one before it. Man after man comes through the door looking for a young girl but finds an investigative reporter instead.

I sit in front of the TV in shock. W
atching grown men try to sexually seduce children will never cease to make me sick.

It was after a recent episode of the show that I sat there, frustrated that it seems to keep happening and asking myself, "what can we do as a society to stop this?"

As far as internet sexual predators are concerned, sure, we can teach kids to be safe on the computer. And we can make sure kids are in our sight at all times.

But, beyond that? What's our role as parents and child care givers?

One thing that has come to my attention lately is the recent sexualization and maturation of fashion in children's clothing.

I wonder if we, as a society, by dressing our children as small adults, might be pushing the buttons of pedophiles by allowing our children to dress like small adults. Are we both making it a crime to see children as sex objects while also sexualizing them?

Author Wendell Berry writes, "In this cult of liberated sexuality, free of courtesy, ceremony, responsibility, and restraint...there is much that is human, sad to say, but there is no sense or sanity.Trying to draw the line where were are trying to draw it, between carelessness and brutality, is like insisting that falling is flying - until you hit the ground - and then trying to outlaw hitting the ground."

Pedophiles are sick people and should they act on their desires, they should be seriously punished. I would not allow my children to ever be in the presence of someone I knew might have an issue with pedophilia.

However, I also believe that in my desire to keep children safe, I must be responsible with the way my children are presented to the world. The sexualization of children is just one step towards putting them in harms way. I believe one of the ways we do this is by accepting that it’s okay to let children be “grown ups” in their dress.

It’s interesting that as a society, we despise child sexual exploitation and yet at the same time, we’ll dress up our toddlers like teenagers, our children like adults.

[Picture found on http://ubbaby.com, June 2006]

[Picture found at http://achildscloset.com, June 2006]

But Stephen B. Levine, a professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and an expert on sexuality may be right when he says, “this is America, where we tolerate lots of unsavory things for freedom of expression, and I don't think we're willing to give up these freedoms."

Could our American freedom to dress our kids however we want actually be blinding us to our responsibility to protect our children's most valued characteristic - their childhood?

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