Reading Levin & Kilbourne (2009) brought back memories of a 2009 news story in the county in which I work about middle school children sexting. Last month, the police department in the city in which I live announced officers are visiting students in all middle and high schools to teach them about sexting. Police want students to understand that by taking or sharing nude, partially naked, or provocative photos or videos, they are participating in child pornography. If a minor is caught with such photos or videos they could face felony charges of Possession of Child Pornography, Dissemination of Child Pornography, or Production of Child Pornography. These charges have a minimum of a year in prison.
In my setting, I have a little girl who sings and dances to Prince songs. She gyrates, uses adult language and has spoken about getting $5 from a male who touches her all over because “that’s her man.” She’s only four years old.
I have spoken with her mom about my observations who states she will speak to her child each time and there have been many times this year so far.
In recent days, I have witnessed my own child show interest in Youtube videos showing women in suggestive and explicit situations when he supposed to be engaging learning videos or Hot Wheels videos. I have noticed an increase in this type of awareness in relationship to his engaging the Disney Channel and a show called Andi Mack.
The median age for children watching Andi Mack is 10 years old, my son’s age. In a first for Disney Channel, a key character on its popular tween series realizes he’s gay and comes out to his friends. The character – 13-year-old Cyrus Goodman, played by 15-year-old Joshua Rush – will begin his self-discovery in the second season one-hour premiere episode. Show creator Terri Minsky shares that the cast and everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity. The Walt Disney Co. released a general statement on stories and characters, which reads, in part, “Disney remains committed to continuing to create characters that are accessible and relatable to all children (Evans, 2017).”
As a Christian mother, I take seriously the shows and experiences my children have access to. With this information in mind, I know to be more aware. While I appreciate the inclusion of all message, I do not agree with the message that ‘gay is okay’ because I know that relationships identified as such go against God’s law. I have had three children with same sex parents in classrooms in which I have worked in the seventeen years I have taught. I have good relationships with those parents and they accept my religious beliefs about it because I treat them with dignity. Jesus did not come to condemn the world so I do not condemn people.
Evans, G. (2017). ‘Andi Mack’ Character To Come Out As Gay: A Disney Channel First. Retrieved from http://deadline.com/2017/10/disney-channel-andi-mack-character-come-out-gay-1202194584/
Levin, D. E., & Kilbourne, J. (2009). [Introduction]. So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids (pp. 1–8). New York: Ballantine Books. Retrieved from: http://dianeelevin.com/sosexysosoon/introduction.pdf
Luketich, K. (2017). MPD: Sexting can lead to child pornography charges. Retrieved from http://wkrg.com/2017/11/17/mpd-sexting-can-lead-to-child-pornography-charges/