“If the next 10 years are anything like the last five years, we’re all in trouble.” That was one grim takeaway from a panelist at the recent “Summit on Protecting Children from Sexualization.” Hosted by The Heritage Foundation and the Family Policy Alliance, the event explored how children are being exposed to sexual themes, images, and behavior at an early age. This is setting them up for emotional and physical trauma, as well as making them vulnerable to abuse.
Panelists from a wide range of organizations explored how this child sexualization occurs in culture, medicine, and education. While the political left and the LGBT movement are complicit, they didn’t start this fire.
Technology, the sexual revolution, the breakdown of the family, and human sin have created the perfect storm that is now engulfing America’s kids. Parents need to understand how we got here and embrace their role as their children’s best advocate.
As all the panelists echoed, the sexual grooming of children is not coming from a single source; it is legion. Here are a few of the principal forces that are introducing kids to sexual images, themes, and experiences at an unhealthy age.
“It is no longer a question of ‘if’ children will be exposed to pornography, it is a question of ‘when,’” explained Haley Halvorsen of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
“And the public health damages are clear, according to the research. Since 2011, there have been 40 peer reviewed studies revealing that pornography has negative impacts on the brain structure and development.”
This is leading to an epidemic of children “acting out” their sexual confusion on other kids, she said.
“There is a rising crisis of children who are sexually abusing other children,” explained Halvorsen. “This is an unspoken crisis in our country right now. The research finds that children who are exposed to pornography are 3.3 times more likely to act out in a problematic sexual way that harms another child—typically because they were ‘acting out’ what they saw in pornography.”
Another panelist, attorney Vernadette Broyles of the Child and Parental Rights Campaign, brought a human face to this issue of child-on-child assault. Broyles told an absolutely heartbreaking story of a mother whose five-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by a little boy in the girls bathroom. The school’s transgender bathrooms policy allowed the boy to be there.
Vulnerable children are using technology to find the love and validation that they’re not getting elsewhere. And it makes them prime targets for abuse.
“We know that pornography actually overlaps with the online epidemic of grooming children for sexual abuse and sex trafficking,” says Halvorsen.
She went on to describe her recent conversations with three girls, ages 14 and 15, who are survivors of sex trafficking in Washington, D.C. They showed her their Instagram accounts—supposedly that were set to “private”—where they were receiving dozens of messages from adult men every week. They would tell them they’re beautiful, ask them to meet up, ask them for sexually explicit photos, and send sexually explicit photos of themselves. Sometimes these exchanges actually led to blackmailing girls into being trafficked for sex.
“We shouldn’t be surprised when we hear about the early sexualization of children that’s growing to proportions that we never could have imagined happening,” says Walt Heyer, a former transgender person and contributor to The Federalist.
In 1944, at the age of four, Walt was crossdressed. This incident led him to a life of gender distress that ultimately paved the way for his sex transition surgery in the 1980s—a decision he now deeply regrets.
“We cannot ignore how devastating it is to young people to crossdress them and affirm them,” he said. “Do not kid yourselves. I’m here as a witness to this.”
When Catholic parents brought their 17-year-old daughter to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Transgender Health Clinic, doctors progressively cut them out of discussions about their daughter’s treatment. Opposed to the clinic’s recommendation that she receive transgender hormones, the hospital called government child services on them.
The parents were charged with abuse and neglect, eventually losing custody of their child—all because they did not want her to undergo a “treatment” that would deny her biology and leave her sterilized for life.
While American Library Association (ALA)-approved “Drag Queen Story Hour” has been making headlines over the last year, the sexual subversion of taxpayer-funded public libraries goes far deeper. Panelist Georgia Kijesky, a homeschool mom, had a rude awakening to this movement when her local library hosted a “kids only” sex education class.
The event was run by a Planned Parenthood certified sex instructor who teaches teen sex courses like, “Pop My Cherry: Deconstructing Virginity” and “Making Consent Sexy.” Her adult classes also include titles like “Different Strokes: Spanking and Beyond” and “Exploring Domination and Submission.”
The library also promoted books such as “The Little Black Book for Girlz,” a sex guide for teenagers. As Kijesky explained, the book was on display as a “banned book,” challenging girls to buck the status quo and read it, “you rebel, you.”
How Can Parents Fight for Their Kids?
Child sexualization is as complex as it is disturbing. It has its roots in the sexual revolution of the 1960s and permeates every facet of our society. The Trump White House has been more helpful than the previous presidential administration, but parents can’t expect politicians to win this battle for them. This fight doesn’t start with the White House—it starts at your house.
Talk to your kids about what it means to be a man and a woman. The Heritage Foundation, in partnership with other groups at the event, has put together a parent resource guide to respond to issues like transgenderism and the early sexualization of children. Educate yourself and build a culture of trust with your kids about these issues.
Be vigilant about their social media use and regularly monitor their accounts.
Pay attention to your local school board. Show up to their meetings to make sure they are not enacting policies that usurp parental rights. Better yet, run for the board yourself.
Parents also need to accept that their children are growing up in a different world than they did. What was once intuitive about the nature of men and women, parents’ rights, and child safety is now deemed dangerous and irrelevant by today’s institutions. No amount of self-righteous pearl clutching will put things back as they were.
But though society has changed, children haven’t. They still just want to feel safe, validated, and loved. Children fall victim to predators or buy into cultural norms because that’s who’s welcoming them.
Your kids are human and they will have struggles; meet them with sympathy, warmth and a desire to understand. Don’t let anyone else fill that gap. Protect your children by loving them better than the world does.