The Pandemic of Sexualized Children

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Aged eight, 13 or 17, there is a point in every girl’s life when they realize that they are seen as an object first and a person second. For those unlucky enough to hit puberty earlier than others, this is realized too young. Although still a child in mind, their body has betrayed them.

This is the moment they realize grown men are looking at them sexually for the first time. From catcalling to groping, almost every woman has experienced unwanted sexual advances from men more than twice their age by the time they hit their teenage years.

While it is understood that “not all men” participate in these aggressions, every woman either has or has known someone who has dealt with unwanted advances from men. It is a problem that will only get worse because of the lack of willingness to talk about an uncomfortable subject matter. People are not willing to address the root of the problem: lascivious men are looking at teenage girls sexually.

This is not a new phenomenon. Predatory behavior, such as waiting for a girl to turn 18 so she is “legal”, is just the tip of the iceberg. In cases such as actress Emma Watson, who was violated with up-skirt pictures, after she turned 18 and was legally an adult. A mere 24 hours earlier, behavior like that was illegal, but because a day had passed, it is fine.

The problem is bigger than people are willing to address. From a young age, girls are told that men only want “one thing” from them and not to trust any of them, or when a boy is mean to them, it is because he likes them. Normalizing abusive behavior from childhood is how these problems never stop and only get worse. Questioning these behaviors is often looked down upon by both men and women.

It all comes down to one thing these kind of men do not have for women: respect. They do not see what problem their behavior causes. Whether from lack of education on the matter or an unwillingness to learn, they see women as something for them. Men like this do not see women as people, but as an object.

Parents must teach children about consent and respect. Simple phrases such as, “No means no,” and learning how to respect boundaries, can make a huge impact on how they see everyone, not just women, in the future.

The world now is not how it has to be forever. Children can be safe from unwanted sexual advances. It is possible for women to feel safe when walking alone at night, but everyone must work toward a common goal. This can be done by calling out predatory behavior of peers and making sure that young men understand the necessity of consent.

The future can be bright or abysmal. In order to move forward, the sexualization of children must be left in the past.

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