In the world we inhabit today, where we can agree universally on so little, we have become increasingly preoccupied and obsessed with children's safety and welfare. Ironically, it seems we have gone somewhat too far, helping to create "cotton wool kids" by helicopter parenting.
Dhalia Lithwick recently wrote about "Sexting" - where teenagers send or forward nude images of themselves, often to their lovers, but not always. The article points out how some kids are liable to be arrested and registered as sex offenders.
Our inability as a society to be clear about morality and sex these days, with adults increasingly seemingly incapable of holding the line about what is right and wrong in an age dominated by relativism means that often kids do not get clear enough boundaries. In addition to that, our constant molly-coddling and worrying about permitting a certain level of independence and responsibiity will only reinforce young people's disorientation.
As adults, we need to stop obsessing about pedophilia (which has not risen in the post war period, although our shrill debate about it has exploded beyond belief) and demonstrate to young people that adults are mainly to be trusted, colleagues and neighbors. Also, we should allow them a certain amount of controlled responsibility - such as the mother who allowed her nine year old boy to ride the subway on his own.
As a new book by Dr Helene Guldberg called Reclaiming Childhood points out, we could end up creating a generation that is incapable of taking risks due to our smothering.
So, lets jettison the continual paranoia about the (thankfully extremely) rare pedophilia and think about how in a world where sexual images proliferate everywhere we may be able to provide a framework for young people to aspire to that is profound and passionate. We should also relax about them doing things teenagers have always done. Further, we would do well to support one another as fellow citizens, help each other hold the line and show we support adults and that children need to join our world, with the responsibilities and rewards that accompany it.
Anything else is just kids stuff.
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