We need to protect our children from premature sexualisation

I must have missed the memo informing me that it has now apparently become the ‘norm’ for 9-year-old little girls to ‘sext’ explicit images of themselves to little boys. Well, if you were to believe Caroline O’Sullivan, Director of Services at the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), you could be forgiven for accepting that this horrific craze has now morphed into a major trend, especially as it’s “becoming more a feature of the organisation’s daily work.” And, as the ISPCC is doing great work, and appear to be on top of their game, I do believe and trust Caroline, and I’m now highly disturbed that sadly, the sexualisation and exploitation of young, vulnerable, innocent little children may have reached epidemic proportions in this country – and I have to say…enough is enough.

 

  This is a serious issue for me because as a grandparent I witness my 10-year-old little angel being bombarded by pop culture and its daily messages; some of which are good, some cool and fun, and some, deranged, dark and downright unhealthy; with the latter forcing many young kids to grow up too quickly, often leading to them (through absolutely no fault of their own), having a total disregard for their personal sense of decency and safety, tragically falling into a dark, distressing arena where porn has possibly become the norm.  

  Now, while I think my mobile ‘phone is the greatest invention since penicillin, as it keeps me up to date with what’s going on in the world, enables me to work from anywhere and has lots of other wonderful benefits, I’d have to question why any 9-year-old child would need such a device, especially with the potential consequences, (given this latest ISPCC revelation), being severely damaging to their mental health and wellbeing.

  Okay, I understand a mobile ‘phone is a convenient way of keeping tabs on your kids, and, in an emergency situation, your child can easily and quickly reach you…great! But, OMG parents, you really need to ask yourselves this question…is your young kid ready for all the dangerous pitfalls that come with this wonderful, convenient method of communication? Clearly the poor kids sending sexualised selfies of themselves are not!

  Sadly, there is no legal age setting out when a child may possess a mobile ‘phone, therefore it’s down to the parents to set the boundaries regarding when they feel the time is right. And, carrying out a quick poll of my own friends who have young kids, and, posing the question to my eldest daughter (parent of my 10-year-old granddaughter), it seems that Confirmation (12/13 years) is the popular time; and that’s reasonable enough. Yet, given recent revelations where it’s reported that a school staff member ‘referred to a 9-year-old girl sending nude photos of herself to boys in her class,’ parents are giving in to the pester power of their little cherubs, and the downward age of under ten is more the case because, quite simply, it’s bloody hard to say no to certain things when your child is being subjected to peer pressure and aggressive commercialism by advertisers. And, while we all appreciate that mobile ‘phones and the internet can provide educational tools and interesting apps for our kids, on the other hand, dare I ask, how can it be hard for any parent to say no to blatant exposure to potential online bullying, predatory creeps, and sexsploitation?

  God knows I’m no Mary Poppins, but, should my 10-year-old granddaughter be allowed a mobile ‘phone tomorrow, I’d suggest to her mother, the decision-maker, (who would probably tell me to butt out), that she give her a seriously dumbed down version of one, as in, it could only send text messages as opposed to picture messages, and her contact list would be locked down so tight it would only contain close family members’ numbers. I believe that as parents/grandparents, we all have a vested interest in protecting our children from premature sexualisation, because, to do otherwise would be quite literally contributing to damaging the innocence of their childhood.

It’s stupid season at the White House!

Well folks, it seems as if last week, President Chump, sorry Trump, and his advisors were acting like a pack of back row hooligans, further escalating their petty attacks against the meeja by showing us that The Donald will wield the might, and use the prerogative of his position and power to silence and belittle those who dare to disagree, scan, study or scrutinise him when he banned such credible organsiations as CNN, the BBC, The Guardian, the New York Times, and others, from attending an off-camera press briefing. 

  Now, while I can’t believe I’m writing about this oppressor again, because I feel that in sinking low enough to do so and grant Trump any sort of publicity, what I’m really doing is contributing to the decline of my own intellect – seriously folks, I have to wonder, what is Trump’s main objective, because basic PR maintenance and the responsible running of a country it ain’t. You see, by aggressively hand-picking members of the press, I now feel that Trump and Co. have tentatively walked the backalleys of stupidity and thuggery, and, even though the Beeb’s very polite Washington bureau chief, Paul Danahar, sympathetically said: “We understand there may be occasions when, due to space or circumstances, the White House restricts press events to the established pool” – it’s clear it stung. If it were me, and Trump had refused The Roscommon People entry, while I’d have had to graciously take my lumps (like other reporters), my smiley face would soon freeze into a rictus of revenge! Yeah Donald…hell hath no fury like a newspaper woman scorned!

What about the borders of the future, Enda?

The countdown is on, and, as we enter March, Brexit is set to become a reality, with the Brits triggering Article 50. This will be the time when ourselves and the rest of Europe will officially enter into two years of separation negotiations, culminating in an April 2019 Divorce. Now sadly readers, this will also mean that the annual Booze Run up North will cease, I kid you not!

  You see, while Enda and Theresa waffle on about ‘No return to borders of the past,’ I have to say I’m personally sick of hearing their bull, because at this stage, I believe we’re all familiar with the borders of the past; sure we’ve lived through them, so enough with the lip service Enda and tell us about what to expect from the borders of the future. Tell us what’s facing us, because to be honest, no matter how much you blather and cackle, the fact is, we’re not idiots and know that essentially Ma Markel and her flunkies will have the final call in how us minions separate our assets and live our lives, and methinks, it ain’t gonna be purty!