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If Child Pageants are Bad, Shouldn’t they be Illegal?


France has introduced legislation to make pageants for children under the age of 16 illegal.  Britain is considering similar measures.  This has sent a new wave of requests  my way for interviews and comments.  Most are certain that, in light of my book and outspoken condemnation of child beauty pageants (which hasn’t changed a bit), I would applaud this news.  Some are quite surprised when I do not.

While I am glad to see this issue being discussed publicly and at such length by people from a variety of disciplines, the issue of child sexualization cannot be adequately addressed by simply making a law.  In fact, the results are likely to be counter-intuitive.  What is required, is for parents and the public to understand why it’s necessary to be the adults in their childrens’  lives rather than attempting to recapture their own childhoods through the lives of  their children.  Parents need to find their own self-sufficiency and learn that healthy child development requires that children be allowed their childhood.  Otherwise, the problem grows exponentially, which is exactly where we are today.

To simply make the government the new parent in the lives of these parents with governmental edicts telling them what is and is not appropriate, is to remove exactly the adult responsibility that is so sorely needed.  Such an approach simply shifts the burden of responsibility from the parent to government.  Another boundary crossed, and more “unintended consequences” for the future.

We have a unique opportunity to turn back the tide of this hyper-sexualized, child-centric pop culture through education and understanding.  Kids do not want their parents to be their friends.  They need parents who know the right thing to do and who do it by choice –not because doing otherwise could get them arrested.

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  1. I agree with you. Freedom demands less government controls. But, there is precedent to justify another law.

    My earliest memory has this all starting with cigarettes. Why not put a warning on the packs? It’s just a small thing and would not limit smokers. Then, why not limit where people can smoke, such as airplanes? If okay there, why not in restaurants and bars?

    Once government can be used to limit freedom for one product there is no reason why government cannot limit other behavior across the board. Just consider bans and limitations in NYC of salt or trans-fats or even soda pop size. Other bans? DDT comes to mind even though the elimination of the product literally killed thousands in third world countries. We also have bans on certain toilets, light bulbs and home improvements where asbestos might or might not be found.

  2. You have expessed it exactly. To bad “making a law” is to often the default position.

    “To simply make the government the new parent in the lives of these parents with governmental edicts telling them what is and is not appropriate, is to remove exactly the adult responsibility that is so sorely needed. Such an approach simply shifts the burden of responsibility from the parent to government. Another boundary crossed, and more “unintended consequences” for the future.”

  3. I don’t understand. I mean, isn’t it the government’s role to control by force any and all behavior I disapprove of? True, it may make some things I do approve of illegal as well, but isn’t that the price we pay for a well-behaved, orderly and, most importantly, compliant society? I simply cannot abide all these selfish individualists who consider themselves smarter or more moral than our ruling class. That leads to anarchy!

    For all of those who think I’m being dogmatic, let me point out that I’m not against a reasonable compromise. Why not put a warning label on all children under twelve? If you ignore it, a first offense would carry only a sentence of five hundred hours of community service.

  4. Legislation is necessary when people are unable to protect themselves. Motorists cannot control abuse by drunk drivers so legislation is necessary. Likewise children must be protected from abusive adults since they cannot reasonably fend for themselves. At the same time it is right to continue to educate parents against living their own lives through their children.

    1. I fully appreciate the abusive potential of sexualizing children and parents who live through them. I invite you to read my book, as it is a textbook example. I also applaud the work you are doing to bring awareness to the growing frequency of this problem. But the irony here is that the whole syndrome is rooted in the fact that parents are not acting like grownups. If you further treat them like children, they will find plenty of other ways to look to their children to “complete” them. If you treat them like adults, they are more apt to behave like adults. Please give this serious thought. The government cannot be in every nook and cranny of people’s lives and it surely ought not be. In that, there is no freedom or adulthood at all.

  5. This issue ties together so many others, including the consumption of sugary beverages, smoking, use of recreational substances, etc. While I don’t want to cloud the issue with these other topics I do want to bring up that we as a society control how our society behaves and functions. Our government can generate any number of laws but if the social norm says to disobey the laws then the verbiage is mute. Likewise, we do not need laws against drunk driving if society socially shuns such misbehavior, as well as works collectively together to help correct it. Far too often it seems that laws are enacted in order to relieve society of the burden of morality. I agree with Karen, as she seems to be suggesting that we as a society need to destroy the desire to place our children in beauty pageants, and we as adults should strongly disprove of these events. Laws already exist to prosecute offenders that operate underage pornographic websites, brothels, etc. but the behavior will persist so long as there are consumers seeking these products/services. In short, we all need to be more responsible consumers.

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