The Sexualization of Young Girls

I’ve blogged about the subject countless times- the impact that sexualized media has on our kids, particularly our girls. And often I receive comments back, “Can’t we do something about this?”

Yes. Plenty. And most of it starts with what you can do in your own home. But some might also be interested in some national legislation that’s on the table.

The issue is this: today’s youth are bombarded with sexualized media content, and its consequences are unquestionable (Head up… I think today’s blog is going to break a record for the most hyperlinks. I’m going to bombard you with research and articles today). You see it every day in the top 10 songs at any given time, or from artist that know that sex sells, artist like Britney, Christina, and even Miley. Some researchers have actually labeled this phenomena, calling it “sexualization.” The American Psychological Association released a report titled, ‘The Sexualization of Girls,’ defining sexualization as When a person’s value comes only from her/his sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is sexually objectified, e.g., made into a thing for another’s sexual use.” According to their research, the consequences of sexualization are detailed as negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality, and attitudes and beliefs.”

As parents and youth workers, we’ve seen these effects first hand. You have heard me talk about it, and hopefully even read the research firsthand. Even those not in contact with kids read the headlines and can’t avoid the fact that “1 in 4 teenager girls have an STD.” 

Think about that for a second- especially those that think, “Oh, this is nothing new.” If you graduated in 1967- 1 in 32 teenagers had an STD. In 1983- 1 in 18 teenagers had an STD.

Today, it’s 1 in 4.

Bottom line: Kids are saturating themselves in sexualized media, they don’t understand the consequences, and they’re paying for it big time. All this while parents watch from the sidelines.

You’ve heard me rant about this numerous times and I always like to provide a “take-away,” something parents and youth workers can do about it (talking with your kids, watching media with your kids, establishing boundaries, etc.) This time I’m going to defer to Dr. Stephanie Smith from the APA website in her article, Raising Healthy Kids in a Sexualized Media World. Stephanie draws our attention to the impact of sexualization and links the national legislation on the table. I love her wrap up (here “take-away”) to parents– “tips for helping children manage what they see and hear and make healthy choices” (I want you to hear it from someone else for a change). Here they are in brief.

Stay Engaged
Check in on the shows your kids are watching; listen to the music they listen to; read the magazines they read.

Talk a Lot but Listen More
Instead of dominating the conversation talking about why you think something is right or wrong, let your kids take the lead. I am continually amazed at the insight and maturity many kids have about these topics – we just need to give them the opportunity to tell us!

Be the Teacher
You are still your child’s first and most important teacher and role model.  Even if they don’t seem to be watching or listening to you – DON’T BE FOOLED – they are!

I encourage you to read her thoughts in entirety here.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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5 Responses to The Sexualization of Young Girls

  1. Ray Lee says:

    I enjoy your free video discussion from Avatar!

    Thanks for all you do.

    Ray 🙂

  2. CollegeGirl says:

    Problem is a lot of parents now a days are too busy, or frankly don’t give a rats rear end about what their kids are doing or rather whom their doing, or the fact that their doing it at all. Mainly they ignore it.

  3. michelle says:

    It is so important to be involved, listening to your kids and knowing who they hang out with. We need to be parents to our kids, not friends, and setting boundaries is so important. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  4. I wholeheartly agree with what you are saying Jonathan, about society in general and parents specifically regarding home being the start of the problem with promiscuity. If most parents would only raise their kids to think and determine to live by healthy and moral principles rather than by their body’s feelings and emotional pulls of the base nature we would start seeing a new breed of godly kids with solid integrity, instead of the present generally weak-principled yet brazen unihibited posture of character of kids we’re seeing now. And the corrupting movies aren’t more to blame than the parents who are themselves unprincipled and compromising, exampling for the next generation. First be, or start becoming a godly parent, and then their kids can at least have role models of moral integrity that they can admire, if not imitate. We’ve got to get at the root of the problem of promiscuity, and the lack of godly home training is that root.

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