Sex sells, and Hollywood and advertisers know it. Unfortunately in our society today, with families as busy as ever, often both parents working away from home, our children are being raised by the media in a celebrity culture that puts them at risk by programming them to think that sexuality is life’s prime attribute.

Browse through the profiles on MySpace.com, a top Internet hangout for teens and magnet for predators and you’ll see many underage girls emulating provocative poses of top celebrities – proof that this is the message they are receiving.

While children do not have the maturity and wisdom to understand the dangerous risks of these postings, predators do, and that is why they are lurking on MySpace and other popular teen social networking sites.



MySpace copycat



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The teen years are often marked by the need to feel accepted and fit in. Is soft porn the way we show our youth how to be accepted? Are parents, by allowing Hollywood and advertisers to saturate our youth with visual and verbal sexual messages, leaving our children as bait for predators?

Unfortunately, many parents do not realize or ignore what is really going on in MySpace.com, a virtual everything-goes spring break for kids. Phrases like promiscuous, hottie and sexy title soft porn profile images of underage girls. Profanity, sex, gangsta, STDs, alcohol and drugs are frequent posting topics. Many profiles display a playboy logo and post about celebrities, including Paris Hilton.

Couple the Hollywood sexualization of our youth with the explosion in Internet porn and you have a match made in hell. To feed an addiction after being glued to Internet porn, what does the predator do to get his fix? Hop on over to MySpace.com and hunt for prey. According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, last year there were more than 2,600 cases of adults luring children via the Internet.

John Maltby, who lectures in psychology at Leicester University and co-authored a study on youth attitudes toward celebrity, says, “Celebrity worship now provides an important reference point for growing up. It’s part of the transfer of attachment from parents to peer group. Also, whereas in past times family, friends and teachers were influential role models, celebrities now fulfill that role.”



MySpace copycat



Ashlee Simpson

Consider one of the largest “tween” stars, Ashlee Simpson, and her soft-porn stint as one of the latest Candies Girls. Kneeling on her bed with a teddy bear in the background, Simpson dons a low cut tee with a lacy bra poking out, lace underwear and Candies high heels.

How does the CEO of Candies, Neil Cole, see this ad? “She’s a little promiscuous, but everything’s covered, and she just looks fun. She looks a little bit sexy.” Cole says the ad shows “a young girl who’s growing up. And it’s a combination, I think – in a lot of young girl’s rooms you see teddy bears, and they probably have high heels.”

Candies has established a foundation to use celebrities to speak out about teen pregnancy and offers T-shirts with the phrase, “Be sexy, it doesn’t mean you have to have sex.” In a world that sees a plague of sexual predators after our children, do we really want our tweens dressing like 20-somethings?

According to Michelle Elliot of Kidscape, “Parents have to beware. If you dress your child in a sexual way, it will justify the pedophile. We’re making children vulnerable.”

According to media consumption statistics from the Motion Picture Association of America, cited in a report by Ted Baehr of MovieGuide, by the time he/she is 17-years-old, the average child will have spent up to 63,835 hours watching movies, videos and TV programs, playing video games, on the Internet or listening to music, 11,000 hours in school and only 2,000 hours with parents. Sadly, it is no wonder that 70 percent of teens say they get their information about sex from the media, according to two recent studies.

As much as parents can turn off the television, attempting to shield our children, celebrity influence is pervasive in our society. By the mere poses of these children emulating celebrities on MySpace.com it is evident that celebrities do influence our children. They are copying Hollywood traits, images, values and ideals. The glamorization of their immoral behavior on and off screen is giving children sexual license without any regard to the consequences that puts our children at risk. Celebrity out of wedlock births, divorce and infidelity are glamorized, yet these same behaviors cause disastrous results for mainstream American families, such as poverty, teen pregnancy, STDs, depression and suicide.

The bottom line is our youth are being fed celebrity idolatry for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with very little parental guidance. Teens themselves do not have the maturity to be able to see through the trance of idolatry making sex look good to them. At their young age, they do not have the ability to see the dire consequences of early sexual experiences. Because of the images they see on a constant basis, subliminally programming them toward sex instead of innocence, they skip the innocence of their youth and are deprived of a safe and clean environment in which to mature and flourish.

It is common for parents to claim that when children emulate sexy celebrities, it is either a phase or the sign of the times, yet look at the times we live in: excessive Internet porn, sexual predators in the home via a computer screen, teachers charged with statutory rape, etc. Is the molestation, abduction, rape or murder of our children a “phase” or “sign of the times” we are going to accept?



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Katharine DeBrecht is the author of “Help! Mom! Hollywood’s in My Hamper” and “Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed.” She is also a mother of three.

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