The adult world is engaged in an all-out assault on teens. Are we doing enough to protect our youth?
Think about the following:
Malevolent gangs, like the Crips and Bloods, recruit juveniles. I want Code Pink to protest the Crips and the Bloods in Berkeley, if they find the Marines to be so offensive to their sensibilities. Perhaps Code Pink doesn’t realize that they are straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.
Teen fashion is revealing more of the body. Is Iran on to something when they ban Barbie because of Barbie apparel? Iran went on to say that Barbie, if permitted on an ongoing basis, could subvert the entire culture of Iran. Perhaps it’s already subverted ours.
Teenage consumption of alcohol is usually aided and abetted by adults who provide the fake ID’s or who procure the alcohol directly. Alcohol is, overwhelmingly, the number one date rape drug.
It wasn’t so long ago that the PG-13 movie rating didn’t exist, and some movies that receive that rating today would have been rated R many years ago. Movie studios now are making strategic edits in R films to get a PG-13 rating, while pushing PG movies to take on a harder edge to bump them up to PG-13, as movies with this rating seem to have a bigger box office. It’s all about manipulation, whether in the creative process of making the film, or in the marketing process of selling the film, or in the audience reaction process of screening the film. Of course, the P stands for Parental and the G stands for Guidance and the 13 suggests that teens are old enough not to require Parental Guidance . . . hmmm . . . are we sure about that last part?
Adolescents are gaining more weight because of sedentary lifestyles. If the adults are home, they may be filling their time with pursuits that they enjoy rather than engaging with the children in healthy, active pursuits. Often the adults are working away from the home. Mom and Dad are relieved, though, if the kids are quietly occupied in playing a video game, instant messaging friends on the internet, or watching TV (and helping themselves to snacks from the fridge) to pass the time instead of being a thug or a crime target out on the streets while unattended. Hmmm . . . maybe there are more downsides to those sedentary activities than just gaining weight.
Pulp magazines, probably more often read by teen females than males, often have cover stories about navigating one’s way through the twists and turns of adult romantic relationships, and teen girls are magnetically drawn to the content of those articles. Boys may be more interested in sports magazines, but if they are interested in cars or motorcycles, a magazine like Easy Rider may very well have a scantily clad centerfold model posing on a Harley Davidson, whetting the teen’s appetite for raunchier fare.
Juvenile fiction, especially marketed toward females, often has some snippets of disturbingly adult occurrences. Back in 2005, I was teaching English in South Korea. A mother enrolled her two teen girls at our school that were more advanced English students. The mother asked if I would practice conversation with them that would also test their reading comprehension. She brought two English-language teen novels to the school. I read them. The students were to read them. We were to discuss the books. Before the students were to read them, I told the mother that one of the books, though marketed toward teens, did not seem age appropriate because of a sexual incident that occurred at the climax of the story line. It made me blush to read the book. I could discuss the book with an adult, but I would not discuss the book with a teen. I thought the mom would understand. She withdrew her teen girls from our school, and enrolled them in another that was an hour-and-a-half away so that they could have advanced study from teachers that weren’t as prudish as I was.
While I’m mentioning Korea, I might as well say that teens there are even less protected from adults than American teens are. The Koreans are deservedly outraged when one of their teens has been sexually assaulted by someone in the American military, and if you were to watch the news, you’d have the sense that the only offenses ever committed against Korean teens are perpetrated by the American military, except for the occasional Canadian ESL teacher that beds a Korean student (which doesn’t result in nearly as much indignation as what’s been aimed at the American military). I suppose that explains why there are some Koreans that loathe Americans, and some that distrust all Westerners. I’ll just say that the news is selectively silent about much more widespread offenses that Korean adults commit against Korean juveniles, including male juveniles. One of the big news stories out of America at the time I was in Korea was the trial of Michael Jackson concerning accusations Jackson masturbated in front of a boy and perhaps encouraged the boy to do the same, perhaps even to the point of touching the boy, while in a bedroom at the Neverland ranch. A male college student told me, after he comprehended what the fuss was all about, that in Korea, even if all the allegations were true, the Michael Jackson thing would be no big deal. Gulp!!!!
There are teachers, male and female, straight and gay, that have sexual encounters with students, male and female. Some priests have been accused of child molestation. Let’s not forget the Warren Jeffs FLDS cult, with the dominant males deflowering teen girls when they reach adolescence, and turning teen boys, potential rivals for female affection, out to pasture, ill-prepared to adjust to the rest of society.
Several years ago I had a girlfriend, who was nearly 30 at the time, who suffered from bulimia. I discovered, through conversing with her, that nearly all eating disorders are rooted in an emotionally traumatic occurrence at a very young age, often quite a few years earlier than the onset of the eating disorder. Frequently those emotional traumas were from a child starkly exposed to an adult situation, precipitated by an adult, such as something violent or something sexual, or something along those lines.
Over time, I’ve discovered that many of the most promiscuous adults I’ve ever met, men and women, straight and gay, had been molested as children. It’s estimated that a little over 40% of all rape victims are minors.
20 years ago, when I was living in Fremont, Nebraska, I met a woman and her husband who, in addition to their four kids, had just taken 5 of her sister’s kids into her home. It seemed like such a lovely family. They all looked so beautiful. Her own daughter, aged 13, was the oldest of the bunch. The second-oldest child was her sister’s 9-year-old girl. The youngest was an infant of her sister’s, less than a year old. The 13-year-old daughter, though, always had a facial expression that showed she was constantly stressed out. I found out later that the woman and her husband were also stressed out, but that they were better able to put on a brave face than the 13-year-old. Where was the woman’s sister and brother-in-law that they weren’t taking care of their own children? In jail. The story of what had happened to these beautiful children was horrifying. Those jailed parents (monsters!) had been having sex with their own children. Group sex. Group incest. Cavorting all day around the house in their birthday suits and engaging in sexual activity. The medical examiners showed that even the 5-year-old girl had been penetrated. The woman and her husband were hoping that their custody of the sister’s children would be very temporary. They wanted the children placed into other foster homes pronto, except for the infant, who hadn’t been abused, and who was a perfectly normal infant. They said that while there is usually a desire to keep siblings together, these siblings would need to be split up and each placed into a home where there weren’t other children to corrupt. They talked about how these siblings, if permitted to cavort together, would revert to engaging in sexual behavior. The nine-year-old was in the worst condition, because she had been abused for a far longer time than the others, by virtue of being the oldest of the sister’s children. They couldn’t all sleep in bedrooms at night. Instead, the children had to be separated into different rooms of the house, with the woman, the husband, and the 13-year-old sleeping in strategic locations where they could intercept the young children if they attempted to congregate. Even in sleep, the woman, the husband, and the 13-year-old had to wake frequently to maintain their vigil. The 13-year-old had been a model student in school, but this extraordinarily heavy responsibility was taking a toll on her. The woman and husband were very worried about the strain on the 13-year-old, but her help was necessary, and they were incessantly lobbying the state agency to place the sister’s children lickety-split. The woman had a 16-month old daughter of her own. One night, during these sleep-deprived vigils, they found the sister’s 2-year-old boy just as he attempted to mount the woman’s 16-month-old. Doesn’t that make you cry? If not, then you are more stoic than I am.
I’ve been alarmed, when roaming Yahoo! 360 from my personal blog, DJWPP, that there are a number of webpages where lesbian women are trolling for girls. Why is a Louisiana school teacher (NSFW), who is a big fan of cheerleaders, posting flirts to a high school senior? Why is a 34-yr-old Floridian flirting with a 13-yr-old? And another woman, with a masters degree, flirting with the same 13-yr-old? Then there’s a Bowling Green grad flirting with the very same 13-yr-old!
Let’s face it, there are many, many adults who are aroused by youth, and I’m not just talking about the teacher that beds a student, I’m not just talking about the priest who molests a child, I’m not just talking about the dominant males in the Warren Jeffs FLDS cult, I’m talking about something more pervasive than that. I’m talking about Annie Leibovitz photographing 15-year-old Miley Cyrus in a way designed to be alluring to adults to sell a Vanity Fair magazine that is sold to an adult demographic. The photographer talked Cyrus into it after her father had left the shoot. At such an impressionable age, when she looked at the photo, she didn’t think things all the way through until later, when other voices entered her thoughts, and she ended up feeling embarrassed. The photographer, on the other hand, thought things all the way through. Leibovitz pushed all the right buttons. She knew exactly what she was doing, and had calculated it out all in advance. And, apparently, Vanity Fair is all too certain that a child photographed in this way will cause their magazine to fly off the sales racks and into the shopping carts of adults.
The pliability of a teen’s will is what makes them so vulnerable. There are adults who recruit teens to go on crime sprees with them because they know how to bend the will of the teens. It’s the same reason why we set an age below which rape is statutory, because though it may seem the teen is willing, the teen is probably being played.
Unfortunately I feel that the adults who try to protect teens aren’t succeeding very well in preventing teens from being exploited by less-well-intentioned adults.
I hate to sound alarmist, but let’s step up our efforts a bit.