Friday, 13 September 2013

Are children being desensitised?

It's a really worrying thing that I ponder on alot as a mother of two young children - are children growing up far too quickly? It seems that I am not the only one - according to the UK Government during research almost 9 out of 10 parents feel that children are growing up far too quickly. Nearly half of parents are unhappy with programmes or adverts on TV before the 9pm watershed. As am I. I have seen far too much sexualisation and violence on the television before 9pm.

My son has just turned 9 and he tends to go to bed at 7:30pm on school days and I do try to control what he watches to make sure that he is seeing nothing that I deem inappropriate. But I do worry what he may see when he is not in our house - maybe at a friends. So many children now seem to think that violence and sex is commonplace and they joke about it and re-enact it out in their play. The main re-enactment I notice is from music videos where celebrities are gyrating about and making explicit suggestions. Miley Cyrus, I can only shake my head in disdain at you. Yes you want to show a more grown up image but flashing your crotch and doing sexual innuendo ALL the time does not a lady make.

Now please don't think I am a prude - I am far from it, but there has to be a time when you draw the line and say no as the child is too young. When I was a child the only programme we saw on television with violence was Tom and Jerry cartoons - hardly inspiring us to go out in the street and cause criminal acts. They also almost certainly didn't desensitise our brains. My childhood was spent outdoors - being inside was boring. I would literally climb the walls in the morning to be let out into the fresh air. Creating dens, climbing trees, water fights and playing at the park - those were the times. We weren't angels, we certainly got up to our fair share of mischief but nothing more than harmless childhood pranks. In this day and age you have to worry about gangs, vandalism, bullying that comes in many forms, making sure your child wears the right labels so they are not teased.

On a shocking note - the rise in statistics of teenagers who have been found in possession of knives and guns is simply terrifying. Putting weapons into the hands of hormonally pumped up teenagers who seem to have no idea of the real consequences of they use them is a real worry. They don't see that though and this is because society has allowed them to be desensitised about death through television shows, computer games and violent music, to mention just a few. More and more young people are being sent to prison for these sort of crimes and instead of showing remorse they wear it as a badge of honour. This is a rising tend that has to be addressed as these youths are the ones who will raise the next generation and who knows what will happen next. I don't dare to imagine.

Girls being expected to have sex with boyfriends at such young ages because they will be teased about being virgins is one of the reasons that has resulted in Britain having the highest population of teen mums in Europe. Girls are expected to *put out* or be called all sorts of names and ridiculed. So young teens that don't feel ready for sex will go along with it anyway so that they feel grown up and respected by their peers.

This has also highlighted a rise in sexually transmitted diseases in people under 18 years of age as adequate protection is not being used. Teenagers under 16 simply aren't mature enough to deal with the implications of sex - pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, rumours, pressure to sleep with someone you don't want to, the list goes on.

I could tell you a million more reasons as to why children are desensitised in today's society and they are - theres no way of denying it. All we can do as parents, grandparents, friends and family is try to teach our children the rights from wrong, show them to respect their body and consider the consequences of any actions they partake in. Let them be children as long as they can be. I would rather my 9 year old son came in covered from head to foot in mud after building a den with his friends than have him playing in the house on a console on a violent game feeling it's cool to kill people in the game he is playing. To me, that is the first step down a slippery perilous road and I will try my damn hardest to let my children be children and stay off that road of desensitisation.

Childhood is the most beautiful of all lifes seasons. Author unknown