“She’ll show off a little sass wearing this sparkly sequin graphic tee from Stardoll.”

Huh? Children’s brains are not naturally programed for sexuality, but you wouldn’t know that by some of the clothes young children are wearing.  I’m not sure why any mom wants her 7 year old daughter to wear a sequin shirt with big pouty red lips, but I am sure it’s part of a broader cultural trend that is sexualizing our young children via clothing and toys.

Cultural trends can be so incremental, that we may not recognize them. We may adopt them without thinking, which is why looking back in history is so important. But I digress…

I found these “Monster High” dolls on the Toy’s R Us website. Here’s Draculaura, dressed in fishnet tights, high heel boots and a mini-skirt. Little pink hearts are scattered around, too. Really pretty disturbing when you think that little girls are playing with these dolls. The spring break doll was equally sexualized, if not more so.

My rule of thumb: if you don’t want your daughter to wear it, don’t let her dolls wear it either. Because there may be “unintended consequences.” Kids mimic everything–they are hardwired to do that.

But here’s another problem with dressing our kids in “sexy” clothes:

Sexy kid’s clothing may also invite unwanted attention from a pedophile.

I know that sounds extreme, but not to expert criminal profiler, police trainer and author Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D. who makes this case in a September 2011 Psychology Today article entitled “Porn for Pedophiles: ‘Sexy Children’ on Parade.” She begins by describing the child beauty pageant shows which feature very young children dressed up “in bikinis, mini dresses, and other revealing clothing. The girls are then prodded to dance around like mini-strippers. Both moms and dads call to their girls to shake their hips and strike sexy poses.”

But it gets worse. Dr. Schurman-Kauflin asserts that child molesters watch these shows to get their kicks and explains that the typical pedophile studies a child from a distance before they strike. She goes on to advise parents:

“Unfortunately, we live in a time where we have to be watchful. It is not a good idea to sexualize your children. If you do it, don’t be surprised when others see your child as a sex object. To the predator, this is an invitation…Monsters are out there…Wouldn’t it be better to allow your child to be a child than to turn her into a target?”

Children are not sexual beings. If we want to avoid priming our children for pornography or making them a target for a pedophile, we need to carefully select their clothing and toys to give them a childhood free from sexualization. Then we must warn them in an age-appropriate way to turn away from sexualized images. It’s a tall order, but I believe it can be done.

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.
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