From Publishers Weekly
The authors (Levin is a professor of education; Kilbourne, an authority on the effects of advertising) accuse the media of sexualizing children. Constantly, American children are exposed to a barrage of sexual images in television, movies, music and the Internet. They are taught young that buying certain clothes, consuming brand-name soft drinks and owning the right possessions will make them sexy and cool—and being sexy and cool is the most important thing. Young men and women are spoon-fed images that equate sex with violence, paint women as sexually subservient to men and encourage hooking up rather than meaningful connections. The result is that kids are having sex younger and with more partners than ever before. Eating disorders and body image issues are common as early as grade school. Levin and Kilbourne stress that there is nothing wrong with a young person's natural sexual awakening, but it is wrong to allow a young person's sexuality to be hijacked by corporations who want them as customers. The authors offer advice on how parents can limit children's exposure to commercialized sex, and how parents can engage kids in constructive, age-appropriate conversation about sex and the media. One need only read the authors' anecdotes to see why this book is relevant. (Sept.)
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Elementary-school children playing the rape game and young teens engaged in oral sex are only a fraction of the sexualized behavior young children are displaying, to the horror of their parents. Victoria’s Secret is selling thongs to girls as young as 8, and the Bratz doll is outselling Barbie, who is viewed as no stranger to sexualized images herself. Levin and Kilbourne, experts in childhood development, explore the troubling trends in ramped-up childhood sexuality; the implications for sexuality and relationships; and the potential for such trends to lead to pathological sexual behavior. The authors offer disturbing research on the pressure on young children, particularly girls, to dress and act in sexually provocative ways long before they are able to understand what they are doing. They also explore the marketing of sex to young children through television and the Internet. Intended for parents of children ranging in age from 4 to 12, this book offers helpful advice about what parents can do to protect their children from hypersexualized cultural influences. --Vanessa Bush