Sext Up Kids

Sext Up Kids: How Growing Up in a Hyper Sexualized Culture Hurts Our kids

Doc Zone (CBC) 2012

Film Review

The ubiquitous sexualization of children in the mass media is having devastating effects on our adolescents. Sext Up Kids interviews a range of experts, including teachers, psychologists and teen sex bloggers. They all agree that pop culture has become a virtual porn culture, with the increasing prevalence of sexually provocative teen and pre-teen (as young as 9) girls in advertising, music videos and movies.

Teenage girls seem to bear the brunt of the psychological damage. They feel immense pressure to copy the sexualized image of their teen idols, at risk of being unpopular or socially excluded if they don’t. The pressure is aggravated by boys, who are also constantly exposed to the same soft porn and call them sexually abusive names if they don’t measure up.

With boys as young as five accessing hard porn on the Internet, there’s also intense pressure for girls thirteen and up to engage in sexual activity. Because boys base their sexual expectations on male-dominated pornography, intercourse is frequently painful because the girls do it without being aroused or lubricated.

Pressure for girls to engage in oral (fellatio) and anal sex is also intense. Teenage boys expect it because they see it on-line. In one study by an Atlanta psychologist, 22% of teenage girls reported having anal sex in the past sixty days.

Sext Up Kids also covers the controversial topic of sexting, sending sexual explicit texts and selfies. Sexting can have extremely painful consequences for both girls and boys, especially aggravated sexting, a form of bullying in which the naked photos a girls sends her boyfriend are forwarded and go viral.

Apparently girls succumb to their boyfriends’ requests for nude selfies out of fear boys won’t like them if they don’t flaunt and promote themselves. While increasingly boys run the risk of being charged with sex crimes for possessing pornographic photos of girls under eighteen.

The documentary concludes with a plea to parents, urging them to talk to their teenagers about their sexual choices. Experts agree this is the best way support them in resisting pressure to be sexual before they’re emotionally and psychologically ready.

Lowering the Voting Age

vote 15 16

In late January, the British Labour Party announced that lowering the voting age to 16 would be one of the first acts of a new Labour government. According to Labour’s shadow justice secretary Sadiq Kahn, lowering the voting age is a crucial way of tackling “the public’s malaise towards all things political.”

He argues that getting the public into the habit of voting is key to raising the numbers of British subjects who participate in elections. He claims that people who vote when they first become eligible are more likely to keep on voting.

There’s a growing European movement – led primarily by youth demonstration councils and parliaments – to lower the voting age to 16. At present young people vote at 16 in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Mann and Slovenia (if in full time employment). In the UK a bill to reduce the voting age to 16 received its second reading in Parliament just before the 2010 elections. There is also an initiative in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to lower the voting age to 16 in all EU countries.

In other parts of the world, young people vote at 17 in Sudan, Israel (in municipal elections), North Korea, East Timor, and the Seychelles. They vote at 16 in Brazil and Nicaragua, and there is a bill bending in the Taiwan legislature to lower the voting age to 17.

Taxation Without Representation

There are obvious civil rights issues in denying 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote. Especially as many are in full time employment and pay taxes. Although there is no constitutional guarantee against taxation without representation, there is a strong tradition in common law that people who pay taxes should have some say in how their tax money is spent. As I recall, it was a common rallying cry leading up to the American Revolution.

There is a certain illogic in allowing teenagers to work (and pay taxes), drive, have sex and be tried as adults – and at the same time claiming they are too “immature” to vote. Let’s get serious here. Which is more dangerous – driving or voting? It’s really scary to think that in fourteen states, teenagers are competent to receive the penalty at 16. In five states they can be executed at 17. Yet they aren’t competent to vote aren’t until their 18th birthday.

Current Teenagers are the Most Politically Aware Ever

The most compelling argument in countries that have lowered the voting age is that our current crop of teenagers is the most politically savvy ever, thanks to the Internet.

Another really persuasive argument relates to a demographic crisis facing all industrialized countries. In all of them, a large cohort of baby boomers will spend approximately 20 years “in retirement,” with a relatively small pool of working adults paying for their social security benefits, health care and nursing homes. The issue has already reared its ugly head with controversial proposals to force members of generation X and Y to work till age 70 before they can retire.

As the Danish representative who introduced the Vote at 16 initiative to the European Parliament points out, denying 16 and 17 year olds input into this major policy shift is a clear invitation to civil unrest.

The most common counter argument to reducing the voting age is that 16 and 17 olds are too immature to make logical choices and exercise good political judgement. If we followed this thinking to its logical conclusion, the US would have to increase the voting age to 65.

For more information on the UK movement see http://www.votesat16.org.uk/

photo credit: Adam Scotti via photopin cc