Perils of early sexualisation

It has been reported that “the chairman of a parliamentary committee is to suggest the decriminalisation of sexual activity between minors aged 13 to 15. Labour MP Etienne Grech, who chairs Parliament’s Standing Committee on Health, said he would raise the possibility during the next meeting of MPs…” (timesof, June 8).

We are discussing children between the ages of 13 and 15. Early sexualisation of children will have long-term consequences health-wise for the children involved, but it will also affect the outcome of their life choices. These same children will face a trail of abuse from sexual predators without protection and from an earlier age .

Consider the following extracts from Psychology Today. It is a well-known fact that access to sexually explicit material on the internet at an early age can contribute to early sexualisation of children. A 2012 study published in Psychological Science found that the more teens were exposed to sexual content in films, the earlier they started having sex and the likelier they were to have casual, unprotected sex.

The earlier a child is exposed to sexual content and begins having sex, the likelier he or she is to engage in high-risk sex. Research shows that children who have sex by age 13 are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, engage in frequent intercourse and have unprotected sex and use drugs or alcohol before sex.

In a study by researcher Jennings Bryant, more than 66 per cent of boys and 40 per cent of girls reported wanting to try some of the sexual behaviour they saw in the media, which increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

It seems that the media projection of sex as some sort of a ‘cool’ thing to be doing is reaping its fruits. In this golden age of internet access, children have direct access to pornography in our homes.

They have internet on their phones as well as cameras for selfies and sexting. All this from a very young age.

Who is to blame if they get lost navigating through this vast plain of progressive media? Are they being instructed on how to be media wise and safe when surfing the internet?

Are they being warned of predators that are on the lookout for innocent children? Will they be able to make a distinction between virtual relationships and real relationships?

Some children are spending more time on virtual relationships than on real ones, including relationships with their very own families.

Online long-term friendships and romance tend to fizzle out unless accompanied by physical meetings and face-to-face encounters. In the tender adolescent phase, there is a lack of emotional maturity and impulse control, coupled with poor judgment, especially if youths are unaware of the turbulent effects of their own hormones. The last thing they need is someone encouraging them to engage in promiscuity instead of learning self-control.

This is what happens when we, as a society, fail our children. We fail to present the holistic picture of sexuality within the context of a lifelong, secure relationship. We fail them when we present sex as a flagrant hobby to engage in without any consequences.

We fail them when instead of presenting models based on healthy, respectful relationships affirming self-worth and love, we confuse them with cheap alternatives that will ultimately hurt them. We tell them about sex but not about making love within marriage and, worst of all, we give them contraception to be safe. It is like telling a child that a live electricity wire can electrocute you if you touch it but that he or she can still play with the live wire with an insulating glove.

I suggest that we can do more for our kids than Grech’s suggestion.

We should be seeking to help preserve our children’s youth in a multitude of ways. The solution is not giving them earlier or more access to something that they are not mature enough for but helping them to grow, mature and develop in a holistic manner such that they can make better life choices later on in their lives.

Dr Miriam Sciberras


One Comment

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  1. Prosit to Miriam’s article.
    What is at stake is clearly presented in the article below that portrays the tragic situation of countries that lose their moral compass.

    THE TIMES 28th December 2005

    The libertine epidemic: A guide to social delusions
    Aaron G.P. de Giorgio
    I was harrowed by the findings of BBC1’s Panorama programme under the banner headline of Panorama – Love Hurts. It is perhaps the most ironic programme name I have ever come across.
    The programme dealt with the waiting times patients face in the United Kingdom when they make an appointment to visit a sexual health clinic, known as a GUM (genito-urinary medicine clinic). The programme discovered that more than 25 per cent of the UK’s GUMs are unable to treat patients needing an urgent appointment within the recommended 48 hours. In fact, in some cases patients could wait weeks before they can be seen, let alone treated.
    The stark truth behind these seemingly bland statistics is that these findings have revealed an alarming large-scale epidemic of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK. Cases of gonorrhoea and HIV have increased by 100 per cent in the past decade, while cases of syphilis have soared by 1,500 per cent.
    Just under 500,000 young people under the age of 25 are infected with chlamydia in Britain, the most common sexually-transmitted infection.
    While the programme tried to investigate the inadequacies of the 269 GUMs it contacted, it has, in fact, unwittingly, thrown into the spotlight the devastating effects of the libertine epidemic.
    Britain is among the most sexually permissive in the so-called developed world. Britain’s young people are perhaps among the most sexually active in Europe, with the UK constantly topping the lists for the highest level of teenage pregnancies. The number of abortions is also staggering.
    It was once thought that by divesting society of the shackles of Christian morals, the grip of abstinence, self-discipline, spiritual inhibitions, and by denting the absolute truth with theories of relativism, mankind could evolve into a freer, more agreeable being, with a greater sense of self-satisfaction and a more developed sense of social conscience.
    Not only has all this been proven to be codswallop, but we are bearing debilitating social consequences, because, with the so-called sexual revolution, along also came a higher level of sexual degradation, such as paedophilia and an increase in sexual harassment. In addition, we are the reluctant witnesses of a spiral of social decadence and the exposure to the fact that the libertine epidemic was the greatest build-up to the biggest social delusion.
    I am talking about hard facts and plain statistics, and not about theories. Since the outbreak of the sexual revolution, we have experienced throughout the world multiple increases in family break-downs, social dysfunctional situations, such as a large number of persons living on their own, a large number of children without families, an increased number of sexually-related crimes, including child sexual abuse, violent and abusive disorders in adolescents, and an increase and candidness in previously abhorrent practices, such as sexual interaction with animals.
    A motion was brought up very recently in Scandinavia, promoting a Bill to outlaw all forms of pornography, as it had been conclusively proven that pornography and its use led to a higher probability of the user committing sexually-related crimes and developing abusive tendencies.
    You reap what you sow, the saying goes. If one child dies every minute from AIDS around the world, what have we sown? We have sown the seeds of death. By divesting marriage of its sanctity and by surgically dissecting the delicate and intrinsically built social structure, we have woven a discordant web of disassociated theories and illusions, which have led to a total and complete break-down in the communal sense of a caring and responsible society. We are now reaping social fragmentation, a society composed of lonely unsocial persons; we have managed to develop a culture of death, which is self-destructive. We can boast of the highest levels of suicide and self-harm, including widespread drug addiction and alcoholism, in all history of mankind.
    In spite of this, the philosophers and deluded “enlightened” thinkers of the libertine revolution totally refuse to acknowledge that the source of society’s ills is derived from the rotten seed they have sown. They blame those who advocate abstinence, those who lobby for “a partner for life”, they ridicule the Church, and they belittle anyone who applies reason and logic in the face of this decadent social Siberia.
    Advocates of sexual morality and responsibility, defenders of the institution of marriage and promoters of the family are reviled and tormented. They are called bigots, homophobes, conformists, extremists, diehards, dogmatists, chauvinists. They call on us to have compassion and to be humane, to be modern and to acquire the ability to tolerate and to find the middle ground.
    But has it not been proven that the 100 per cent safeguard against the transmission of STIs is abstinence and the most watertight control of transmitted infections is by having a partner for life?
    We shall reap what we sow. If we sow death, we cannot reap life.
    Chev. de Giorgio is an active member of a number of voluntary and philanthropic non-profit making organisations. He works for an international British financial services group.

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