Yes, it happens — even here. Continue reading Sex Trafficking in our Neighborhood
In the decade plus that Amplify has been speaking to teens, the sexualization of teens, especially girls, has been escalating at an alarming rate. So Sexy So Soon author, Jean Kilbourne, has been named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses. And now, parents have an opportunity to hear her speak in DuPage County next month. She will be at Glenbard West on April 15 for a free presentation (information HERE). Her topic will be “Deadly Persuasion: The Impact of Media on our Sons and Daughters.” She is also speaking ($10) at Herrick Middle School in Downers Grove at 7 p.m. April 16, where she will be focusing on “How Being So Sexy, So Soon Can Impact our Girls.” Register for that presentation HERE.
I recently read a book titled, “Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss.” I recommend it only for those who aren’t squeamish. Teens, often teens from “good” homes, are trading sexual favors for money, or a designer bag, or even the “promise” of a relationship. Parents often have no clue (isn’t that often the case?). The casualness with which teens are engaging in oral sex reveals they have no clue either! They embrace the idea that oral sex isn’t really sex, and that somehow it doesn’t count because you can’t get pregnant. And yet, research shows that oral isn’t merely a substitute for intercourse, since teens often loose their virginity close to the time they engage in oral sex, according to a report by the Center for Disease Control.
Here at Amplify, we don’t let teens get away with thinking that oral sex is no big deal. The truth is, it has social and emotional consequences, just like intercourse. And then there are the STDs you can get. We’ve written here before about the STDs students are getting from oral sex. Let’s be sure, when we talk about sex with our teens, that we are including cautionary words about ALL forms of sexual activity, not just intercourse.
I was one of those strict parents that blocked MTV on our home’s cable rather than have my girls inundated with what I considered too much raunchy and course behavior. Those weren’t our family values. I also used to think if I just didn’t have R movies on that was a good rule of thumb, but quickly realized I had to read the reviews even for PG-13 movies. At least we can trust a PG rating, right? Now, the Parents Television Council reveals that TV shows with pixilated and blurred nudity (which doesn’t leave much to the imagination) are increasingly being rated as acceptable for children, with 70% of these shows being TV-PG rated. Says PTC President Tim Winter, “Our findings are also alarming because if this kind of nudity continues to increase – as we believe it will – and the FCC’s proposal to essentially stop enforcing the broadcast indecency law goes into effect, then it’s certain that the networks will continue to push the limits of decency even further.”
What an interesting concept: Power in modesty! Former Power Ranger actress, Jessica Rey, has a YouTube video discussing a variety of things that have to do with modesty, such as
the history of what we consider showing “too much” and (the most interesting part) research on the impact on the male brain of seeing scantily clad women.
A CNN report on the research revealing what happens when too much is revealed, shows that a part of a man’s brain lights up that has to do with “handling tools and the intention to perform actions,” rather than the part of the brain “associated with analyzing another person’s thoughts, feelings and intentions.” It seems that women who show too much can become, in the male brain (not consciously, mind you), an object, rather than a person. Given that women can be, in fact, objectified when they dress immodestly, and are not valued for who they are (or even seen as a person), doesn’t it make sense that women would have MORE power if dressed modestly? Jessica believes so, and even includes a few slides of her modest, yet fashionable, swimsuit line in her quest to bring vibrant, healthy modesty back into our culture. This video is entertaining, and would prompt a great family conversation about our society, how standards of modesty have changed, and if it matters.
One activity I do in classrooms reveals that teens THINK that guys always want the level of physical intimacy in a relationship to go “all the way.” But I’ve also had boys reveal their real thoughts privately…and they’re much less cavalier in their attitudes about sex than everyone seems to think. Indeed, I found a fascinating study from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy that talks about what boys think about sex and relationships. I’ll be sharing findings in future blogs, but for starters, take a look at this advice from the report: “Girls aren’t the only ones who feel pressure. Reassure your son that he does not have to have sex. Nearly 8 out of 10 guys say there is way too much pressure on them to have sex—from society, from their friends, and from girls. More than half say they are relieved when a girl doesn’t want to have sex and 45% say they’ve had sex and regretted it afterwards. One in five (21%) say they have been pressured by a girl to go farther sexually than they wanted to. Boys can say ‘no’ too—even if they’ve said ‘yes’ before.”
Readers of this blog may be convinced by now of the negative effect of pornography on the minds and behavior of teens. I’ve written about it before. Briefly, here is a partial list of social and interpersonal ills connected to viewing porn: marital instability, divorce, insensitivity to sexual violence in relationships, earlier sexual debut (first sexual experience), inaccurate views of “normal” sexual behavior (those viewing more pornography, for instance, believed that over 30% of people engage in group sex), and a host of other warped ideas about relationships.
The Crimes Against Children Research Center found, in a 2005 study, that 66% of teens that had been exposed to pornography had not sought it out. It came to them.
Today, I want to give you a nudge to take ACTION to protect your sons and daughters. There is a free service, called Family Shield, from OpenDNS that I’ve seen mentioned repeatedly as a good place to start in the war against the intrusion of these damaging images into young minds. This LINK is to a somewhat “techy” article, but at the bottom it walks you through a “how to” on setting up this internet blocking software for your home. It also includes a link for Family Shield.
What about blocking sexual images on your teens’ smart phones? This article has ideas on how to do that.
If parents were looking for one more reason to limit teens’ TV watching, the Parents Television Council has found one. Their recent analysis of television shows reveals that in recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of anatomically accurate words for male and female sexual body parts. Why is that a problem? It’s one more way our culture desensitizes our teens, normalizing sexual talk and actions in a highly sexualized era.
Twice this past month I have had teens tell me about a new website they are using, called Formspring. In the first class where it came up, the teens basically told me that I wouldn’t want to go there (presumably since I am an abstinence speaker), because people put sexy pictures of themselves up for comment. Then, last week another student mentioned how people can comment anonymously on your pictures, or on your life, on your Formspring. Hmmm. This seems fraught with danger to me. Indeed, I did a little research, and found some more information for you to read in this article. The article points out that this six month old website “invites users age 13 and over to pose questions (or comments) to account-holders without identifying themselves. It also invites everything from unkind remarks to sexual harassment to cyber-bullying, critics say.”
As someone well past my prime, I do vicariously enjoy the fresh beauty of my daughters. Aaaah…to be young, and a size 2! But I also taught them how to dress modestly. As one of the students in a class I taught bluntly put it, “If it isn’t for sale, you shouldn’t be advertising it.” If you have boys, you may be concerned about their ability to concentrate in their classes with all that flesh making an appearance now that spring is here. (To be fair, we went on to discuss the responsibility boys bear for what they do with their eyes and thoughts).
Have you had these battles in your house…wondering where to draw the line when so many of your child’s peers are allowed to dress so immodestly these days? And interesting article in the Wall Street Journal has a few theories which may explain why, even if you have high standards in your home, your kids are swimming against the tide if they are dressed to show less.