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So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids Hardcover – August 5, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345505069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345505064
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christine Gerzon on August 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It doesn't sound to me that one of the previous reviewers, Mr. Males, bothered to read the book. If he had, he would recognize that the main premise is ALL children from a very early age are learning toxic lessons from the media about sex, gender, body image and human relationships that have devastating effects on every aspect of their development. These effects can not be measured solely by statistics.

Anyone who spends time with children knows that the lesson that corporate America teaches them (especially girls) is that self-worth is based on appearance and acquiring material possessions. The main purpose of this constant barrage (children spend more time with the media than with their own parents according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study) of commercialism into every aspect of children's lives is to increase corporate profits. When a culture is more concerned with money than healthy human growth, it is obvious that our children are at risk for a host of physical, cognitive, emotional and social problems.

We are at a crucial time in our history when more than ever we need competent creative problem solvers who can tackle the real issues we face as a nation and as citizens of the world. Levin and Kilbourne, internationally recognized educators, authors and social activists, solidly grounded with scholarship and experience provide us with the guidance we need nurture the healthy development of our children. If you want to read a comprehensive, eloquent and practical book on this extremely important issue, this is the one to buy.
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Format: Hardcover
A quick little story that ties into my review. One day, as I was teaching my class, I had a root beer in a bottle on my desk from lunch. One of my girls asks me, "Teacher, are you DRUNK?" Before I lost my top, I explained that it was soda. You would think that I teach a high school or maybe junior high class. But no, these are FIRST GRADERS. They are six. Although we could automatically blame the parents, who knows where she got this information?

SO SEXY, SO SOON, is co-written by Diane E Levin, and Jean Kilbourne. Jean has also written the book, CAN'T BUY MY LOVE, about how advertising gets us seduced into the world of consumerism. That was also a great book.

I am not a parent, but every year to me, it seems like the students are becoming more and more aware of things that they probably shouldn't know about yet. The authors state that it mostly has to do with the media. There is technology everywhere you turn, and when you don't have that on, you can look at the half naked models on the billboard on Sunset. Sex is all over, and as I was watching a commercial previewing a popular TV show, where all of the actresses are in sultry red dresses and biting into apples, trying to be sexy, I was staring open-mouthed at the screen, and I got it. I think that sometimes we get sucked into it. We are adults and we are "allowed" to watch whatever we want. But, the advertisers don't care about the young kids. They want to make the children a shopper for the rest of their life. That's it.

The authors claim that it's just not just about sex. Children and teenagers have been exploring sex for a long time. It's about how they are to think of sex. What used to be something to be shared between two people who care about each other, is now something transient.
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Format: Hardcover
I responded to the intelligent and common sense approach to dealing with the issues at hand. I appreciated the emphasis on communicating with children about the things that society is forcing upon them. Rather than just having to say, "No, no, no - ban, ban, ban!", parents will be helped by this book because it provides tools for children to use out on the streets. Like it or not, this is what they are facing. It always seems as though the people who have the most difficult time in life are the ones who were brought up in a shell with parents who tried to protect them from the world. The successful people are those who were given the opportunity to gain "street smarts" and coping skills, along with the ability to make choices based on good information, such as that provided in this book.
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Format: Paperback
Even though I don't have kids yet, I found this book very helpful, not only in giving me information on what to do when I do have kids (esp. if I have a daughter), but also in understanding some things which I didn't have an insider's view on, such as how a young child's definition of a word like "sex" or "sexy" often has a more innocent connotation than an adult's, as illustrated in the story of kindergarteners Jason and Ashley. Jason got in trouble when Ashley told her parents he told her he wanted to have sex with her, but it turned out that he really meant he wanted to kiss her, and in his juvenile mind interpreted that grownup word in the way he would think of expressing affection. I also liked the information on how children understand the world and evolve in their understanding of more grownup concepts, like weddings, popularity, and where babies come from, by creating movies in their mind, adding a new scene every time they get a new piece of information. Since I was one of those kids who read too much and understood too little, I could understand what this meant, like when Kara told her dad she'd have to have two weddings if she married her female friend, so they could both have babies, even though she didn't question why her parents' lesbian friends only had one wedding and already had a baby together.Read more ›
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