Monday, April 03, 2006

Little Girls Gone

A news release on a study appearing in the April issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

For Release: April 3, 2006, 12:01 am (ET)

CHICAGO - A new study establishes a strong connection between young adolescents' media diet and increased sexual intercourse.

The study, "Sexy Media Matters: Exposure to Sexual Content in Music, Movies, Television, and Magazines, Predicts Black and White Adolescents Sexual Behavior," found that white 12-14 year-olds who had a heavier sexual media diet were more than two times likely to have intercourse when 14-16 years old than those adolescents who had a lighter sexual media diet.

This relationship was not as significant for black teens, which seemed to be more influenced than their white peers by their parents' expectations and their friends' sexual behavior than by what they hear or see in the media.

But while one of the strongest risk factors for early sexual intercourse for both black and white teens was the perception that his or her peers were having sex, the study says that one of the strongest protective factors against early sexual behavior was clear parental communication about sex.


I've worked for many years with lots and lots of young moms, some as young as 14 or 15. One as young as 13.

Many-very many-as young as 17.

I've been in their houses, to their social gatherings, to the places they hang. Seen the TVs that show all day long images of breathtaking depravity and violence from MTV and HBO, while toddlers climb on couches nearby and babies sleep in the chaos. Heard the violent, hate-filled, misogynist lyrics of the songs that play in the cars or boomboxes around which the children gather. Been to a city-sponsored "health" fair where a DJ blasted popular music from immense loudspeakers and the lyrics were about "do me, come on baby, do it hard" accompanied by passionate "uh, uh, uhs"....and the little ones were running around getting faces painted and eating healthy snacks from the WIC table. Stood in line at the grocery stores surrounded by images of women's breasts, butts and thighs--all the famous people who look like (let's face it) prostitutes, glorifying the look and promising: "look like me, strut like me, wear hardly any clothes, sing suggestive lyrics, simulate sex while you dance, moan, and rub up against the male dancers, and if not famous, you can at least be a real woman like me".

But it's not women who are buying this crap. It's little girls, our little girls, our lost generation of young teens succumbing to this horror.

I'm not a very large fan of censorship by government decree. I'm aware that each new generation acts in ways that scandalize the older generation. But it's really gone past the point of toleration. It's past time for a backlash against this kind of media, which harms our girls (and boys), giving them false understanding of human sexuality and pushing them beyond their years into risky behaviors before they have mature thoughts. Before they even are old enough to have mature thoughts. During the years they are learning how to think and negotiate life, they are learning to take all this glorified prostitution as somehow glamorous, somehow "real" and valuable.

Those of us working with children, especially those of us who are home-visitors, need to speak up, correct, role model, and advise moms to turn it down, turn it off, and don't buy it. How much younger can moms be moms than 13? Do we want to know the answer to that?


(PS: Judging by the interesting Google searches that are referring people to this post, some web surfers are going to be MIGHTY MIGHTY disappointed! )


Anonymous Moof said...

Excellent post, Mary! Really needed to be said. Thank you.

12:49 PM  

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