The end of innocence: The cost of sexualizing kids


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  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    April 9, 2012 9:04 a.m.

    When the Moms get plastic surgery to feel better about themselves it trickles down to the girls. Our whole society is obsessed with looks and status.

    Focus on being healthy and happy and confident.

    Looks are shallow.

  • John Reading LITTLETON, CO
    April 8, 2012 10:07 p.m.

    I found it interesting that this fabulous article ran next to an advertisement of young men carrying young women piggyback, with no clothing visible in the picture (presumably they were wearing swimming suits, but none were visible). The other ads around it showed "A woman who is 51 but looks 21" and "Mom earns thousands from home" showing a woman in a tight top sitting at her desk. We are inundated with misleading, dishonest, and vulgar advertising, even when we try to stick to the Deseret News! (I no longer look at the Denver Post home page - they always have at least one provocative picture on the page) As a society we would benefit greatly from less sexualization and more healthy self-images.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    April 8, 2012 1:40 p.m.

    Schools have replaced the home, and children are learning values from their peers, media, and other outside influences. They're being indoctrinated with the concept of man being bad for the planet, with standardized tests leading to accountability and subjection to the state.

    This is a good formula for failure.

  • hapticz Passaic, NJ
    April 6, 2012 8:52 a.m.

    procreation is a lesson from god, it is one lesson that will not be subject to mismanagement, alteration, abuse or denial. religion and 'mores' can tweak (and rend) the lesson for its own ends, but the lesson remains unchanged.

  • New to Utah PAYSON, UT
    April 6, 2012 7:13 a.m.

    This article hits the nail on the head. Society is pushing the envelope to destroy the family by using sex to replace communication, friendship,responsibilty and parenting. It is so important for parents to ignore Hollywood trends and fight against this problem and teach modesty, responsibility and friendship.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 5, 2012 6:32 a.m.

    rnoble Pendleton, OR
    "We are only able to teach, and then let kids govern themselves."

    Children raided in homes when morality and modesty are taught have a much greater chance of making the kind of choices as adults that will bring them happiness.

    How many of those laughing at the concept of modesty and morality are living with one of the more incurable STDs that are available just for the asking?

  • rnoble Pendleton, OR
    April 4, 2012 5:49 p.m.

    I think it notable that although home does have some influence, it is by no standard able to have control. Some in this comment group have suggested that they would never have been let out of the house dressed a certain way. But clearly any attempt to keep in the house would eventually be considered inappropriate by our society as proven by the responses to stories about kids kept confined.

    We are only able to teach, and then let kids govern themselves.

  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    April 4, 2012 5:21 p.m.

    Oh brother.

    Many aspects of things in society are bad, and much more so when we vent about them while embracing the paranoia.

    Telling the gloomy picture to our kids is not the same as talking to them and instructing at the right time. That time is best utilized by a parent in tune with the landscape the kids/teens live in.

    Wishing provocative parts of society away, won't produce a result different that what is. Stare down the bad and, try not to get to enthralled with it as an adult (I am still vulnerable), and talk to your kids about fighting harsh realities.

    I feel I have been on a soap box, but what other options are there here? To be redundant, talk about reality vs. standards with your kids. I see way too much complaining on negative aspects of society in this article and in the comments on it.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    April 4, 2012 5:02 p.m.

    Okay sesualizing kids isn't good. But neither is drilling into their head that having sex outside of marriage is next to murder as a sin. Therefore you shouldn't wear attractive clothes on the off chance that these might increas your chances of doing it.

    There needs to be a happy medium.

  • Ella Salt Lake City, Utah
    Oct. 14, 2011 8:19 a.m.

    wwookie -women for decency could use your help. I agree with you.

  • wwookie Payson, UT
    Sept. 25, 2011 6:40 a.m.

    We live in this world, só if it is becoming something we don't like, we are partially to blame. The answer is not to run from it.
    Our children need to be prepared, só teach them by word and example. Kids learn their priorities from what they see their parents spending their time doing.
    Monitor what the kids watch on tv and explain why something they want to watch is immoral when you tell them to change the channel. Same goes for the clothing your kids wear.

    And most important, do not treat people with different values as inferior unless you want them to form a hate group protesting your values on temple square and eventually getting laws changed to favor their immorality. If your child respects their peers and their agency, there will also be less peer pressure on your child to act immorally as their friends will respect that in return rather than ridicule.

  • catcrazed Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 23, 2011 3:18 p.m.

    Thank goodness for this thoughtful article. I was just sitting here at my teacher desk thinking about the songs I sang as a child, and what the kids are listening to now. We have lost some of our culture to this sexualization of kids. As I look around my classroom at the girls, I can see evidence of this. Since when do fourth grade girls need to wear makeup to school?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Sept. 22, 2011 9:14 p.m.

    Perhaps this is a good argument for school uniforms.

    And I'm not trying to be funny.

  • 2sEnuf ARLINGTON, WA
    Sept. 20, 2011 11:27 p.m.

    I'm appalled by the Halloween costumes for girls as opposed to those for boys. Boys have police, fire, zombies, super heros ... all those choices. Girls? Vampy ghosts, vampy cheerleaders, vampy nurses, vampy bugs, vampy pixies, vampy dead cheerleaders, vampy dead nurses, vampy vampires ... and the list goes on. These costumes which use fishnet stockings, mini-skirts, and 4" platform shoes are listed in the "Tween" section of the store. So they are telling girls from 10-14 that this is the appropriate costume for their age. I gave up on costumes in the costume store long ago and it's become a tradition for my kids and I to create our own NON-vampy costumes from thrift store and fabric store purchases.
    I get a little tired of the fashion industry telling us what we should be wearing rather than letting us pick what we feel the most comfortable in wearing. When we see a strapless frock, I point out to my daughter every time we see the wearer tugging it up. By the time the number hits 5, my daughter is rolling her eyes, understanding the ridiculousness of the dress. Parents have to take a stand too.

  • cindyacre Shelley, ID
    Sept. 20, 2011 3:51 p.m.

    When we took our son to BYU we went to the Wilkinson Center and I stopped in at a quick shop in the building to get something. I looked away from the items and noticed a young lady stepping next to a handsome young man and then pulling her shirt up to expose her midriff - just for him. Luckily, he didn't notice. I did, and let her know through my eyes what I thought of that ploy.

    If girls think that is what it takes to land a date - even at BYU, where do they learn that? They learn it somewhere. Inappropriate dress DOES have effect - and is used for "the effect". Girls need to be taught that those kinds of "ploys" are not good for relationship building.

  • justaguy Out There in, WI
    Sept. 20, 2011 12:30 p.m.


    According to Guttmacher Institute figures for 2006, Utah ranks 45th in the nation in teen pregnancy. You're talking through your hat.

    Sept. 20, 2011 9:36 a.m.

    Nanniehu, I'm not sure where and when you grew up, but I wasn't there. I do remember campaigning to remove the dress code rules in my high school because they only applied to girls. Boys could wear whatever they wanted.
    That said, we really don't seem to have moved beyond the message that girls can't really do anything themselves, but if they can seduce a boy they will be set for life. I recently saw a Toys R Us catalog that showed girls watching the boys playing with the toys. I think there was only one picture of a girl actually doing anything. This stuff starts early.

  • pat1 Taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 19, 2011 9:41 p.m.

    I think Salt Lake City could do a lot to show we do not want to sexualize children by getting rid of the billboards along I-15 as one gets into Salt Lake. They frequently show such images.

    Besides that, billboards themselves just look terrible along the skyline. Most cities no longer have them.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Sept. 19, 2011 4:48 p.m.

    To "libertarian | 1:28 p.m" you heard wrong. Utah has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates. The best data I could find was for 2005. Back then Utah had a rate of 47 per 1000 girls between 15 and 19 years old. They were the 6th lowest. The highest teen pregnancy rate belonged to New Mexico, with 93 per 1000 teen girls. The interesting thing is if you include Washington DC, then the worst place for teen pregnancies is DC because they have 165 per 1000 teen girls.

  • libertarian Cedar City, UT
    Sept. 19, 2011 1:28 p.m.

    It's a natural human tendency to want what is considered "off limits". The more we restrict human nature, the more we want to explore it. Even with all it's "prudishness" I've heard that Utah has the highest teen pregnancy rate. Go figure.

  • terra nova Park City, UT
    Sept. 19, 2011 11:39 a.m.

    In "Approaching Zion," Hugh Nibley argues eloquently that Babylon works to turn all assets into money. This includes sacred things. The mantra of evil is simple: "You can buy anything in this world for money."

    Babylon turns men and women (and little boys and little girls) into objects to be consumed - for money, power and gain.

    "Sexualization" (as described in this article) equals money. The process strips key, critical elements from men, women and children, turning them into "things" to be consumed in an orgy fueled by greed, lust and insatiable appetite. And thus the promised reign of "blood and horror" on this earth (and the death of love) is affirmed.

    But there is hope. There is a way out. God works with broken things. He will work with us.

    "It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume... it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever" (From Guideposts, Oct 5, 1981, page 5).

    Let us work to heal the wounded and teach wisdom, honor, loyalty and love to our children.

  • Another Perspective Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 19, 2011 6:26 a.m.

    It should be recognized there is also a price to pay if parents are too strict. If a girl isn't allowed to wear attractive clothes, it builds up frustration and resentment.

    This fact should be part of the conversation.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 19, 2011 5:56 a.m.

    Re: Mr. Bean | 12:22 p.m. Sept. 18, 2011
    "Perhaps you should grab a couple of burquas off the clothing rack"

    Going to extremes does not strengthen your argument. There is a place for swimming suits but it isn't in the supermarket.

  • Curtis Hight Juneau, AK
    Sept. 19, 2011 12:05 a.m.


    In your remaining 600 words or less each can you make your case about frigidity? I'm not convinced.

    I don't recall the article using the term "frigidity," but I think the authors are suggesting that if there are problems, with physical intimacy or otherwise, that they are more likely to be on the side of "sexualization."
    ". . . Not living up to the unrealistic image impacts mental health."

    "When they look in the mirror and what looks back is not sexy and pouty and perfectly thin, 'little girls get really serious body hatred and anxiety,' says Lexie. The feeling stays as they grow into women."

    "The media increases self-objectification for women. Girls begin to believe they are for someone else's pleasure. It's very dehumanizing."

  • Curtis Hight Juneau, AK
    Sept. 18, 2011 11:50 p.m.

    Oh, what has it cost you
    I almost lost you
    A long, long time ago
    Oh, you should have told me
    But you had to bleed to know

    Billy Joel, "Through The Long Night." Glass Houses. Columbia, 1980.
    Thank you for the sober article on an important matter, although I quietly question some of it: ". . . They discover relationships with members of the opposite sex at younger ages. . . . With a combination of a lot of factors, children at 10 or 11 now think the way someone two generations ago reached at 19 or so." If I'm remembering correctly: early in War and Peace, set in 1805 in Russia, Natasha Rostov, who I think is portrayed as 13 years old at the time, kisses a male friend and her father comments something about his generation's grandparents getting married at her age. Which brings me to wonder about the weighing and "combination of factors." (I also know of mid-teen brides, and some grooms, from two generations ago.)

  • wrz Tucson, AZ
    Sept. 18, 2011 9:57 p.m.


    "There's a huge difference between appropriate dress and being a fanatic."

    Of course, but who's to set the standard? You? Me? You set your standard and I'll set mine. And while you're at it, consider what a prior poster (cjb) opined about frigidity. Think about it.

    "Dresses look better and hang better on the body with a slip..."

    Who cares about how the dress looks? It's what's in it that counts.

    "...and most women's legs should have nylons on when dressed up..."

    Or, all the time if the legs are not trim and muscular.

    "There's nothing less appealing than a man with a super hairy chest with a thin dress shirt on and no t-shirt underneath."

    Then, don't go to the beach where men with hairy chests are dressed in swim trunks.

    "It's the same for women with muffin tops..."

    What's a muffin top?

    "Or worse, saggy, baggy cleavage, ugh!"

    There's something we can agree on, finally.

    "Some things just don't need to be shared, and even if the woman or man is totally in shape..."

    I think that's where we part company.

  • michaelm Waukesha, WI
    Sept. 18, 2011 9:55 p.m.

    I don't have a problem with the intent of the article and agree we live in a sexualized nation. I do take issue with two points:

    1. The constant whining about how this is so terrible for girls with little regard to boys or the need to single out girls as more important or more effected by sexualization. Claiming it effects only or mostly girls, that girls issue only is just so much is naive PC garbage and pop psychology. The facts are in our overly sexualize nation girls are far exceeding boys in all aspects of life, they get better grades, they go on to college and graduate in greater numbers, there are more women than men in the workforce today and they continue to have more social choices than men although still earning less. They seem to be dealing with things just fine as compared to boys!

    2. Study after study in the EU where most nations are far more permissive than the US indicate lower rates of abortion and teen pregnancies than the US. We may have lowered the bar but we also have the ability to tune much of it out or ignore it.

  • Mr. Bean Tucson, AZ
    Sept. 18, 2011 9:31 p.m.


    "@mr bean - Don't be ridiculous."

    There are religions on the face of the earth today that require women to cover every inch of their bodies... or get beaten It sounds like that's what you're advocating except for the head and face covering.

    Actually, I think it was an English Queen (Victoria?) who advocated women's clothing cover even the neck to the chin (no exposed cleavage) and that the bodice would flatten the women's chest to the point there were zero curves. Maybe that's what you prefer.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    Sept. 18, 2011 8:13 p.m.

    Here come the Clothes Police!
    Layer up!

  • nanniehu Wendover, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 6:14 p.m.

    @mr bean - Don't be ridiculous. There's a huge difference between appropriate dress and being a fanatic. When we were growing up most little boys and men wore white undershirts under their button downs, and little girls, women wore camisoles or slips depending whether their dress was casual or dressy. Nylons, stockings or socks were the norm as well. Dresses look better and hang better on the body with a slip, and most women's legs should have nylons on when dressed up; they just look classier and prettier. There's nothing less appealing than a man with a super hairy chest with a thin dress shirt on and no t-shirt underneath. It's so tacky. It's the same for women with muffin tops because their clothing is too tight, and see through blouses that emphasize their tummy roles, ick! Or worse, saggy, baggy cleavage, ugh! Some things just don't need to be shared, and even if the woman or man is totally in shape, I would rather be around someone who is comfortable enough with themselves and who they are to not feel the need to share their physical attributes with the world, than someone who needs the attention.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 5:59 p.m.

    Is the cost of not sexualizing girls frigidity?

    If so, then perhaps its worth it.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    "I think we need stronger family unity and cohesiveness, and forethought of our actions and their effect on children and grandchildren."

    To do this you will characterize the issue as being entirely the fault of women in your post.

    "well more than half of the graduating college students are women, a higher percentage for advanced degrees, and women occupy more than half of the professional positions and occupations. "

    This is a problem? Essentially what you are asking is "how dare women get educated and how dare they not leave themselves dependent on a man to get by".

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Sept. 18, 2011 3:14 p.m.

    Kids are the new frontier of the Sexual Revolution - always searching for a new boundary to cross. Now most people in the world don't even notice when teens or pre-teens are being targeted or portrayed in media and advertising. And it IS all about making money. Sexual predators of children also say now they are being "persecuted". It is legalization of Gay Marriage in the 2010's. In the 2020's, it will be de-criminalization of Kiddie Porn and sex with minors.

    There are more books and movies about sex with kids - under the guise of 'exposing' it. But the movies are being made with actual pre-teens in roles involving nudity and intimacy. And there is a segment of society that likes to see this. I'd like to see this talked about in this series and what we can do to stop it.

    In the UK recently, Tesco was stopped from selling "Lolita Beds" and poles for pole dancing 10 year olds. Sad that they even WANTED to sell this stuff.

  • Civil Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    I wish the "Print" version included the graphics.

  • Miss Piggie Tucson, AZ
    Sept. 18, 2011 12:24 p.m.


    "What do they really want boys and men to think when the men see these girls? We men, truthfully, can only think one way when we see that--it is overpowering."

    Sounds like the problem is not so much in how girls dress as it is the ability of 'we men' to control emotions and mental thought processes.

    To women, dressing provocatively is nothing more than drawing attention... If it were not so the human race would have died out eons ago.

    As the article correctly points out, the human female body is beautiful. It would certainly be a crime to all of humanity to hide it.

  • Mr. Bean Tucson, AZ
    Sept. 18, 2011 12:22 p.m.


    "No sleeveless, short or tight, revealing clothing or swim suits...."

    Perhaps you should grab a couple of burquas off the clothing rack on your next visit.

  • Mom of Six Northern Utah, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 11:20 a.m.

    Deseret News thank you for this very informative article. I have seen the harm that the sexualized media does to both men and women. It is time that we as adults create a backlash against this type of sexalized media and truly educate our children about what it means to be male and female so that we do not create yet another generation of human beings who do not feel that they can never "add up".

  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    Sept. 18, 2011 11:18 a.m.

    We let our children get trapped in a vortex of enticements while their competitors in other cultures develop their abilities. Our behaviour is not harmless.

  • bixby35 BOUNTIFUL, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 10:57 a.m.

    I think the editor or whoever it was wasn't off when he said he wanted to make the Deseret News even more mormonized a year or so ago. Such as the new ratings system in the weekend section for how much a movie is PG, PG-13, or R. Then with the metal cross from the world trade center on the front page which isn't really objective reporting and belongs in the faith section, didn't the scriptures say Jesus said to be careful about makeing spiritual things out of such things like that I would think? Kind of like seeing Jesus in a piece of toast or such. And now the headlining of the sexualization in media and "the loss of innocence"? How sad and heartbreaking but what I can't wait for is the next part of the series called "How can we stop this"?
    You can't and you won't but you can avoid it to a large degree if you choose to.

  • Clarissa Layton, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 9:53 a.m.

    Excellent article and oh, sadly, so true. I saw this affect as a school teacher. Part of the problem is the home. My mother would never have let me out the door with such outfits. I remember my sister trying to get away with it. She wasn't very successful, but still has trouble with her body image. She has accidently passed this on to her daughter. So sad.

  • Joe Thompson South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    "Any food may be innocent. It takes a wise man to be virtuous. We may call no man virtuous till he has passed from innocence to the conquest of temptation.
    The strongest forces of human life are not the subjects of idle play. The real heart and soul of a man are measured by the truth he shows to woman. A mans ideal of womanhood is fixed by the woman he seeks. By a mans ideal of womanhood we may know the degree of his manhood.
    In the quest for happiness, effectiveness rather than pleasure must be the real object of pursuit. For effectiveness in a high sense will bring happiness, while many of the apparent pleasures of life are only the masks of misery." Quoted from The Strength of Being Clean" by David Starr Jordan, founding president of Stanford University. It was as true in 1900 and it is today.
    Joe Thompson

  • twoartistic Draper, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 9:35 a.m.

    One of the hardest parts of our decision to move to Salt Lake from rural UT was the worldly nature of "accepted" dress. Not that we didn't see it in small town UT, it is just far more accepted here. My wife and I cringe at not only the teens clothing on Sunday, but many of the adult sisters.

    It is obvious that many base their worth on their bodies. It feel sad for them, I feel sad for my kids and the world they are inheriting.

    As for the media influence, we kicked that out of the house years ago. Yes they will see it all eventually. By that time perhaps the foundation of their value will be enough to guide them through the storm.

  • PAC Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 18, 2011 9:22 a.m.

    What happen to all that women's lib in the 70's? Women are to be equal to men, yet why do we teach are children, that using your body can get you things in life. I guess the 70's were really a joke.

  • nanniehu Wendover, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 9:12 a.m.

    It all starts at home. Parents shouldn't be frequenting stores such as VS with their children in tow. As a mom I dressed my children in appropriate clothing from the time they were tiny babies. No sleeveless, short or tight, revealing clothing or swim suits. White t-shirts under dress shirts for my son, and camisole t-shirts, or slips for my girls, as well as socks, tights or nylons depending on their age, when they dressed up. Although none of my adult children are active church goers, they still dress modestly. The movies, books and media we allow into our homes can have a major impact on our children and their outlook in general about who they are, as well as their over all value in the home and society. The activities we pursue can have an impact as well. We as Mom's teach our daughters how to respect themselves by the way we dress and act as well.

  • Wyclif OREM, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 6:57 a.m.

    It is unbelievable how naive some of us are to our growing children. A friend has a daughter who posts pictures of herself on facebook daily, many pictures. It is a cry for attention that is becoming more and more provocative, and these parents cannot even see what their own daughter is headed for. The parents think it is cute. I see a difficult future for their family.

  • Taylor Orem, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 3:28 a.m.

    One aspect this article did not consider, is that currently, well more than half of the graduating college students are women, a higher percentage for advanced degrees, and women occupy more than half of the professional positions and occupations. How does that all fit together?

    Also, how does early sexualization of young girls affect the increasing divorce rate as they marry, and the lack of women marrying?

    What I believe we see in much of this, as in the divorce laws that make it very attractive for women to pursue divorce and take everything a man owned, owns, and will ever earn, is a clear, very sophisticated and extremely effective attack on and against the family. This attack has been carefully planned and executed over a long period of years, and we as a community have been easy prey. I think we need stronger family unity and cohesiveness, and forethought of our actions and their effect on children and grandchildren. Attitudes and legislation must reflect the same if we plan to survive.

  • Taylor Orem, UT
    Sept. 18, 2011 2:52 a.m.

    Great article, and about time someone paid attention to this. For many years this process of sexualizing very young women has been taking place and has been idealized. Many moms dress their children this way. Unbelievable! What do they really want boys and men to think when the men see these girls? We men, truthfully, can only think one way when we see that--it is overpowering.

    Why has it taken sooooo long for anyone to notice this? I have a step daughter, now in her 30s, who could be/have been considered somewhat of a "prude". Her mom is also extremely conservative and taught the children very well. Yet, I was appalled at many of the photos they would take of this beautiful young woman, and especially on vacations, the only reason to go somewhere was to take a sexually provocative photo, and many of her adolescent photos are the same. Although she is now raising daughters very conservatively and is very strict on dress standards, what story do all these photos really tell?

    With all the evidence, why are the photos 4 pics of the same 3 girls, and 2 others the same girl? Credibility of photos?