Lying to kids about sex

A psychologist calls for censorship of sexual media -- but is that really what's best for teens, or adults?

Published February 26, 2010 10:30PM (EST)

Pop psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos is calling for a crackdown in the U.K. on sexualized media for the sake of the children. In a government-ordered report, she recommends keeping so-called lad mags out of young teens' sight, eliminating sexist images of women on public billboards, airing music videos with explicit lyrics only after the kiddies go to bed, adding parental controls to all game consoles and banning ads for sex-related jobs from career centers, according to The Independent. 

It's an admirable aim, and I suspect Papadopoulos's heart is very much in the right place, but her solution seems rather superficial. Putting racy magazines on the news stand's top shelf only makes them more alluring. The same goes for all the other targeted vices: It isn't as though kids won't eventually find out that such things exist -- and by the time they do, these adult secrets are imbued with an added electric charge. It seems a disservice to kids to so completely and thoroughly shield them from the realities of our sexualized culture, because they'll have to face it themselves eventually.

Not to mention, it's awfully hypocritical to try to protect teenagers from these "bad" things, while consuming said "bad" things ourselves -- and kids are smart, they'll notice. In fact, I'm pretty sure teens come equipped with a hyper-developed vomeronasal organ capable of sniffing out adult inconsistencies. That isn't to say that there aren't plenty of things youngsters simply aren't ready to be introduced to, but, so often, attempts at preserving young people's innocence essentially delivers the message, "Live as I say, not as I do." It's less about protecting them and more about allowing ourselves to maintain a certain level of cognitive dissonance -- because, hey, at least we're looking after the children. It's like, instead of vacuuming up our filth, we sweep it under the rug without ever questioning why our house is always so damn dirty. 

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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