Childhood sexualization: why it is harmful and how to prevent it

Although already in 1955 Nabokov shocked society with his novel Lolita, the infantile beauty pageants so famous in the United States, recent advertising, means, music or fashion of beauty centers for children and girls have arisen. years. an unstoppable current of infantile sexualization.

But what does the sexualization of childhood really consist of and what dangers does it entail? Throughout this article we will be talking about this phenomenon and how to prevent it.

    What is the sexualization of children?

    At the general level, sexualization or hypersexualization is based on giving a social value to the person who is going to in relation to the level of sexual desire it arouses. This means that a person who is seen as sexually desirable or attractive is directly attributed greater social value or prestige than a person who is not.

    Unfortunately, this phenomenon is increasingly observed in girls and boys at an early age. Such is the scope, that in 2001, the English association Mother’s Union decided to make a report on this evidence. He first defined the sexualization of children, which has been explained as “the sexualization of expressions, postures or dress codes in underage boys and girls”. In addition, he also denounces the use and sexualization of minors in advertising; considering it extremely dangerous for the development of children.

    In addition, the American Psychological Association (APA) denounced this propensity to hypersexualize minors in a document published in 2007. It warned against the risks of this sexualization of children, which conveys a rather harmful message: a level of eroticism. more Success.

    It is very common to see everyday cases in which boys and girls integrate as their own a series of behavioral patterns and personal values ​​that do not match your age range, Which tend to represent false maturity and prioritize physical appearance and attraction above all else.

    Although hypersexualization can be reflected in both boys and girls, it tends to affect the latter more. In recent years, there has been an increase in girls’ sexuality. For example, in many advertising campaigns, in children’s beauty contests or, in the most recent phenomenon, in beauty centers for girls.

    What are the consequences?

    As expected, this trend can have a large number of consequences and undesirable effects both socially and individually for each child.

    The most important personal aspect that is affected by sexualization is both the personal image and the self-esteem of minors. During these stages, boys and girls forge their personal identity and develop self-love.

    When this development is conditioned by the values ​​and trends of society, as in this case with the sexualization of children, children tend to appreciate and give a specific value according to their physical attractiveness. Which is compared to the idea conveyed by the media of what is socially desirable or beautiful.

    Consequently, self-esteem is built on superficial ideas, Temporary and impractical; train people in insecurity, with low self-esteem, fragile and very sensitive to the opinions of others.

    In addition, constant attempts to achieve the ideal aspect over social acceptance, generate such high levels of frustration that can trigger psychological disturbances such as eating disorders and bodily dysmorphic disorders.

    What are the dangers?

    In addition to the direct consequences of the sexualization of children, there are other dangers which, although they do not occur 100%, are always present.

    The first risk of all, which can have a significant impact on the development of the identity and personality of minors is too early transition to adulthood. Minors take on a number of roles for those who are not psychologically prepared and unable to really understand.

    This precocity directly affects the self-esteem of children, who can become adults. dangerous, easy to handle and sensitive. Additionally, by focusing so much on the physical aspect, other areas related to identity development are cast aside, creating chronically immature adults as well.

    Finally, a danger has been generated which mainly affects girls and is that they integrate the idea that the female prototype is the idea of ​​the passive sexual object, which cancels out the woman. Consequently, they continue to perpetuate many sexist stereotypes which end up sustaining and exacerbating the problems of gender-based violence and inequality.

      How can we prevent it?

      Even ending childhood sexualization all of a sudden is a really difficult thing, it is up to adults to protect children from this phenomenon.

      The fact that infantile hypersexualization is spreading more and more is partly the fault of the society accustomed to these images and observing, almost impassively, how children increasingly cease to be children.

      However, there are a number of things we can do to prevent childhood sexualization in boys and girls.

      1. Review our reasoning and values

      First of all, it is necessary critically assess our own values ​​and principles, Because these are what we transfer to the little ones.

      If we can eliminate all those values ​​or customs that can encourage the sexualization of children, it will be much easier to educate children.

      2. Educate in values

      In addition to reviewing our own values, we must also educate those of children. It is also necessary to disseminate more human values, based on respect and in the worth of the person beyond their attributes or physical appearance.

      3. Promote sex education

      It is not about children learning more and more about sex, but sex education is improving in terms of content and quality. Tell them about the body and sexuality will make them more critical and less vulnerable.

        4. Media regulation

        Call for the regulation of sexual content in media, such as advertising, television, and even in music or fashion brands.

        5. Learn to be critical

        Since it is difficult to bend the interests of the media, advertising and brands, it is necessary to develop both the critical thinking of children and that of adults.

        Minors must be aware of what it is and what the society in which they live, transmits, so that they can develop in themselves as people.

        6. Work on self-esteem

        Use techniques and tools to improve children’s self-esteem, generating a self-concept that takes into account the person as a whole, not only in relation to physical appearance.

        7. Set an example

        Children learn to form themselves as people through imitation. Therefore, it is essential that they have role models available to them that do not promote or facilitate sexualization at an early age.

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