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Let children BE children

The world is abuzz with the release of the World of Dance competition video of 7 and 8 year old girls dancing to Beyonce’s ‘Put a ring on it’ in what some call dangerously skimpy outfits with overly provocative moves. I don’t think anyone is denying that these girls are amazingly talented and extremely athletic dancers, I think the controversy stems from a far deeper and longer reaching issue that has been permeating society over the last 20 years, the over-sexualization of children.

Of course the children don’t see it that way, all they know is that they want to dance, dress and act like the pop icons that they see glamorized on television and the Internet and that is just human nature, we all did it – even my parents did it with Elvis comb overs and Jackie O’s pearls. The difference isn’t in the nature of our children, it is in the difference of what those pop icons are doing, wearing and saying not to mention what we as parents and leaders of the future generations find acceptable.

I think it is because we have all become so desensitized to sexualization through the media and the internet over the past few years that provocative dance moves, barely-there clothing and vulgarities in music have become so normal that we don’t even notice it anymore and that can be extremely distressing.

As a survivor of child sexual abuse perhaps I am overly sensitive to the issue, perhaps even prudish when it comes to what I see as appropriate for both children and adults in terms of sexuality. I am by no means blaming any victim of abuse or rape – a woman should be able to walk down main street naked and be unmolested if she chooses to – outfits don’t invite violence BUT there is something that we all seem to be lacking when we deem these type of dances, outfits and behaviors from children as appropriate and that is common sense.

there is a huge movement to stop the exploitation of children through pornography on the Internet right now and that is because for as much good as it has done like allowing you to read my blog right now, it has also opened up the world to those that would use those types of images and videos for ugly and evil intentions. No longer do we have to worry about strangers watching our children from the shadows of a park bench or behind a tree in the schoolyard, these people see our children as objects of desire don’t even have to leave the comfort of there own home to find their type of pornography – they just have to log in to YouTube.

The parents of one of these girls said in a news interview that the video was taken out of context and that the costumes and dance routine was not for the eyes of the world but for competition only. Iย am sure that is true but unfortunately that type of naivety in the electronic age cannot be afforded. As parents and as leaders we have an obligation to protect our children from being seen as something they are not and were never meant to be, objects of desire and sexual beings.

I say shame on the dance instructors, choreographers and parents for being so blinded by what they have come to see as the ‘norm’ in pop culture that they not only allow but encourage these types of behaviors, movements and clothing choices for their children, by not having the courage to stand up to society and say NO, I don’t care what you think is normal, my child will not be viewed in that way. If it doesn’t stop with us as parents, one child at a time, where will our society – our children be in ten years? What new form of pop-culture normality will weed its way into the daily lives of our children? What will we start to accept as normal and no longer question?

As parents and as leaders of the future, it is up to us to say that children are children and they shouldn’t and won’t be treated as adults, expected to act, dress and behave as adults in order to be considered ‘normal’. Dance community or not, a 7 year old gyrating in lingerie to the applause and encouragement of adults should never be normal, should never even happen let alone be fodder for debate.

Reference video

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 3:33 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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