Editor's Notes

Friday, May 15, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 25 (176)

They don’t get it
Child abuse comes in many guises

During dinner with a prominent primary school principal of 600 students we talked of many things. Inevitably the conversation got around to maintaining a safe world for children.

At one point she made mention of occasional adult male lurkers outside her school. With these there were no signs of dope peddling. Just an unpleasant sense of sexual predators. If they remained beyond an acceptable length of time she'd call the police and the latter on loitering grounds would advise the men to move along.

Sexual predators of children she said, just don't get it.

It's true. They will argue that children have impulses of sexual exploration. Sure, this is as natural and common as the sun meeting the morning and rivers flowing down to the sea, but what these adults don't get is that the curiosity of children about such intense feelings must be satisfied among themselves. Entirely without adult interference.

Children, with sufficient parental and other adult guidance to help keep them out of harms way, must be allowed to develop at their own speed with their peers.

This brings to mind the ugly expression of adult interference that is evident in those "beauty" contests that appear with appalling frequency. Yes some children will try to dress like mommy or daddy but this is an expression of their private fantasy that should be left in their own world.

As Henry A. Giroux writes in this edition, (please see Child beauty pageants: a scene from the 'Other America'), "Watching a two-year old parade around the stage in a velcro rip-away outfit in stripper-like fashion induces more than repulsion; it also raises questions about the limits of subjecting kids to such pornographic practices and the distorted values these pageants provide for them.

"Most of the parents, when asked why they do this to their children, fall back upon the tired cliché that it promotes self-esteem. As if defining children largely by what they lack and celebrating utterly regressive sexist standards of aesthetic perfection promotes self-esteem.

"Some parents often respond to criticisms of child abuse by claiming that their kids are doing exactly what they want to do and that they enjoy being in the pageants. This argument appears strained when parents enter into pageants children who are as young as eight months old, or when parents decide that their four-year-old child needs a talent agent in order to insure that she made the right connections outside of the beauty pageants. In both of these responses, little is heard from either the children subjected to such practices or from prestigious organizations such as the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, which issued a report indicating a strong connection between young girls who have to endure a premature emphasis on sex and appearance and "three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression."

Writer Giroux, in an article well worth reading to its end, raises the issue of the still unsolved brutal murder at home of six-year-old JonBennet Ramsey, December 26, 1996, as a high profile example ... "in terms that made visible the dark and seamy element in the culture — one that seemed to belie the assumption that the voyeuristic fascination with the sexualized child was confined to the margins of society, inhabited largely by freaks, pedophiles, and psychopaths ..."

The abuse of children may be found in different shades. Mothers who parade their little girls as mature women are fulfilling their own fantasies. Not those of their children.

They should all be sentenced to watching that excellent statement on the subject found in the movie Little Miss Sunshine. If you haven't seen it do it now. It will warm your hearts with joy.

Meanwhile, take it easy but take it.

Looking forward.

Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective

15 May 2009 — Return to cover.