The Sexualization of Childhood
by Sharna Olfman
November 2008, 224pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99985-8
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-0-275-99986-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

This volume spotlights how children are, at younger and younger ages, being sexualized, and what the psychological and physical consequences are, as well as what adults can do politically and legally to protect children.

Only a generation or two ago, childhood in the United States was understood to be a unique and vulnerable stage of development; a time for play and protection from adult preoccupations and responsibilities. In recent decades however, we appear to have jettisoned these norms, and the lines that separate the lifestyles of even very young children from adults are blurring. As widely known experts on the team that created this book explain, children begin formal education now in preschool, dress like adults, listen to the same music, play the same video games, explore the same Internet sites, and watch explicit depictions of sex and violence on TV and in movies. What is the impact of immersing children in a sexualized world? The Sexualization of Childhood first explains the nature of healthy sexual development. It then describes the ways in which children are being sexualized, and the physical and psychological consequences. It then looks at the lower and lower age at which girls are experiencing puberty, that reduction being fueled by the pseudoestrogens in so many of our foods and products, as well as obesity. Finally, it examines what we can do legally, politically, and as caregivers to protect children from developmentally inappropriate sexual experiences.


"All of the chapters are clearly written and heavily referenced. A valuable addition to the 'Childhood in America' series, which Olfman edits. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers."—Choice, July 1, 2009

"Although this volume is intended for nonacademic readers, it is worth the purchase price for the voluminous footnotes. The authors are a diverse group who present ample evidence for their arguments. . . . I also read this as a mother and found it helpful as a launching pad for conversations I had been putting off."—Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, July 1, 2009

"The volume fully brings to one place the best and worst examples of the sexualization of children, and many chapters review up-to-date research."—PsycCRITIQUES, August 26, 2009

"This outstanding collection of essays, written by an eminent group of scholars and experts, reveals an alarming new danger to children--routine exposure to frighteningly toxic ideas about sex and sexuality. What harm does this cause to children, the adults they become, and society? That is the central question addressed by this book, and the answers it provides, always through rigorous research and cogent analyses, suggest we should be very concerned. The book is essential reading for anyone who cares about the fate of children--and of society as a whole."—Joel Bakan, Professor of Law, University of British Columbia

"Every one of us needs to read The Sexualization of Childhood and then ask ourselves the following questions: How did we allow such a harrowing state-of-affairs to arise? What can we do to correct it? And until this has been achieved, how can we best protect our children from the toxic experiences and influences that are so powerfully depicted in this book?"—Stuart Shanker, Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, York University, Director of the Council of Human Development

"An articulate, compelling expose of the numerous ways in which the psychosexual and gender development of U.S. children has been derailed by an overly sexualized culture negligent in safeguarding its youngest members. Professor Olfman's exceptionally fine editing is again apparent. She has assembled a set of first-rate contributions by leading authorities who lay out the evidence with clarity and conviction and who also help us move toward solutions--by detailing ways that parents, mental health professionals, educators, and policy makers can intervene effectively."—Laura E. Berk, Distinguished Professor of Psychology Emerita, Illinois State University
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