Archive for Monday, October 13, 2008

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Goodbye girlhood? Parents want to keep kids from growing up too fast

October 13, 2008

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The one thing that Abby Olker, 13, did ask her parents for was a dog, and she got her wish. Here she is with her new pal Wrigley.

The one thing that Abby Olker, 13, did ask her parents for was a dog, and she got her wish. Here she is with her new pal Wrigley.

Abby Olker, 13, an eighth-grader at West Junior High, doesn't ask for a whole lot from her parents, but she does have a hand-me-down phone from her mother, without the texting function.

Abby Olker, 13, an eighth-grader at West Junior High, doesn't ask for a whole lot from her parents, but she does have a hand-me-down phone from her mother, without the texting function.

On the street

How old do you think girls should be before they start wearing makeup?

I think it depends on how much makeup and what kind it is. I think it’s kind of a gradual thing.

More responses

If real life were a never-ending "High School Musical" film, every girl would have a cell phone, a boyfriend and perfectly highlighted hair.

Off the Hollywood sound stage, real parents are trying to figure out exactly when - or if - to let their girls have some of trappings of the characters they see on screen.

It's a quandary Lawrence's Kathy Occhipinto, a mother of three will be facing.

So far, her two girls - Cailey, 8, and Rylie, 7 - have made it easy on her. They haven't asked for cell phones, belly shirts, hair dye or anything else they've seen on characters on "Hannah Montana" and "Zoey 101." The girls instead prefer to stick to more traditional girlie needs, like getting their ears pierced and having a say in their hair cuts - when they asked for bangs, they got bangs.

But even if Abby Olker's mom gave her the same go-ahead, the 13-year-old wouldn't really be interested. Abby says that she's not all that interested in highlighting her hair, or mirroring images in magazines or TV shows.

"I don't really want to dye my hair," Abby says. "All the shows I watch aren't realistic."

But Occhipinto has seen signs even her 8-year-old wants to grow up quickly.

"When she runs an errand with mom, she carries her purse with her. Just trying to look a little more grown-up, I think," Occhipinto says. "I think there's a lot more pressure to fit in, and with the whole 'Hannah Montana,' 'Zoey 101,' just watching those and, I think, trying to emulate some of that."

Hairy topic

Cierra Hollins has her wish list of what she'd like her parents to allow.

"Have a cell phone, be able to do your own hair and maybe a perm," the 11-year-old says. "I just wanted a perm so when I get in the water (at the pool) it doesn't go back to curls. I want it to be straight."

Plenty of young girls are venturing into hair salons asking for services that were once reserved for older girls and women, says Mark Chapman, owner of Lada Salon and Spa, 4931 W. Sixth St.

Some services - such as coloring at age 7 or 8 - are refused because the hair isn't fully developed yet. But he says about 40 percent of preteen customers get eyebrows waxed, and some get body treatments.

"Kids are growing up a lot faster, wearing make-up earlier, flat-ironing their hair before 10," Chapman says. "Before, you'd never see that, and I think the media and magazines have something to do with that."

Adolescent girls also are nudging their way into another arena once perceived as adult-only.

"I've heard requests for tattoos as young as 14 and 15, and for piercings as young as 9," said Chris Lahue, tattoo artist for Skin Illustrations, 725 N. Second St. "We don't do anything that young because, frankly put, most adolescent teenagers do not take care of their tattoos and piercings well enough."

He says his business doesn't perform those services on anyone under the age of 16.

Girls to women

Yo Jackson, associate professor of clinical child psychology at Kansas University, agrees that the advertising plays a role in how quickly girls grow up.

"There are a lot of images out there that suggest girls at earlier and earlier ages can be very provocative," Jackson says. "Some products are said to sexualize younger girls, but ultimately someone has to buy it. If parents create a culture where that stuff is important then the child will to."

Martha Straus, author of "Adolescent Girls in Crisis," says parents still have a big influence in their children's lives.

But she worries that advertisers now are dodging parents and going straight for children. And tweens - children between 8 and 14 - bring in large revenues to companies that target them effectively.

"Getting little girls to look like women is a multimillion-dollar market," Straus says. "We are erasing markers of distinction between children and adolescents and between adolescents and adults. They're not children anymore, they're consumers."

Comments

CeeCee 6 years, 8 months ago

But not completely incorrect, RJM.For mobile phones to work they have to be in regular contact with cell towers, so when handsets are on, they emit signals (pings) to nearby towers every few minutes to let the network know where they are. Most mobile phone companies keep records of calls to and from phones as well as a limited number of recent locater pings. However, ping histories are part of customers' private phone records, and law inforcement agencies have to obtain subpoenas before gaining access to them. Also, pings narrow the physical location of a phone only to the coverage region of a particular tower, an area that can encompass several square miles. If an endangered cell phone user is able to place a call to 911, these stumbling blocks can be overcome because MOST wireless phones manufactured in the last few years are GPS-capable and can use signals from the federal government's Global Positioning System satellites to help estimate their locations.

singlemom32 6 years, 8 months ago

I know that lots of women and young girls have died even when they had their phone. Yes Kelsey's phone led her to her body but it didn't ensure her safety. Nothing ensures saftey! Not even the police. I use to think that I would be safe going out with guys if I have my cell phone in my hand but as easily as a person can attack us that cell phone wouldn't help. But we as parents have to teach our children about the dangers that are real life. Not the garbage that happens on the TV. Instead of cellphones how about getting your children in a self defense class atleast then if attacked they could protect themselves. This started to be a conversation about young girls ages 8 - 12 growing up. Not their safety not that doesn't matter cause if I had my way no one would hurt either one of my daughters. But my orginal point was that we as parents make the choice. So by us allowing our children to watch TV then we need to be prepared for the I WANTS and please remember the children who don't watch TV and how your child pressures other children to be like them. (Your only cool if you have a cell phone, a boyfriend; not in my book)

denak 6 years, 8 months ago

I have to agree with the article. I think that kids are growing up way too fast and particularly girls.I think our society sexualizes them very, very early. Two piece bikinis for toddlers?????? short shorts for 8 years old?? Shirts with the word, "Juicy" written across the chest for 11 year olds??? Leopard pants???The clothes being sold now and even toys promote the sexualization of our children. Have you ever looked at those Bratz dolls. I refuse to buy those dolls for any female child in my family. Look at what they are wearing. Feather boas. Thigh high boots. False eyelashes. Pouty lips. Moles. They look like porn stars. You can't buy their clothes at Wal-Mart or JCPennys but you get them at Pricilla's.Even the pixies. Look at Tinkerbell or one of the other fairies. Do they look like girls. No, they have womanly bodies. I don't think this is by accident either. I think the advertisers and the toy companies are deliberately targeting our kids. They have no moral compass. They know that sex sells so they use it to increase their profits.Just like the cigarette companies used "Joe Camel" to appeal to kids, toy companies use "Bratz" It is an unhealthy image but it makes them profits,so they don't care.Dena

Ray Miller 6 years, 8 months ago

CeeCee, that's not exactly true.If you call 911, the dispatcher can use the three nearest towers to find a good approximation of your location. The VAST majority of 911 centers do not have GPS tracking, as it is prohibitively expensive.If you are missing and a family member calls your phone, the cell phone company can tell the police which cell phone tower was used to try to connect with your phone. It's not tracking that the police can do on their own...and it just gives them a general area to search, not a precise location.As usual, information sent in an e-mail forward proves to be incorrect.

singlemom32 6 years, 8 months ago

not to agrue but cell phones that are turned off can still call 911, though a child would need to know the difference between a real emergency (like a stranger bothering them) and a not so real emergency(like breaking your glasses) You get the idea. Though if a child thinks they are old enough to have a cell phone then they should know the difference

mom_of_three 6 years, 8 months ago

mine do have cell phones, but it's a safety precaution and not a necessity. We have a great cell phone plan, and I always know where they are, and they can call when needed.

mom_of_three 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes, but it's also being able to contact them to ensure their safety to me. I want my kids to be able to call anyone when they feel in danger, not just 911. My kids are teenagers, and after seeing what happened to Kelsey Smith, Jody Sanderholm, and other teenagers, I want them to have cell phone for my sense of safety as well as theirs. We also do not have a home phone. They understand they have a cell phone not because of necessity, but for all of us to feel safer.

make_a_difference 6 years, 8 months ago

One of the things I always talked about while my kids were growing up was the difference between wanting and needing. There's a huge difference between the two.

CeeCee 6 years, 8 months ago

I received the following in an email last week. Kelsey Smith had her cell phone 'locator' on. Even though she didn't make any calls out to anyone, when her family and friends tried to call her the cell phone towers picked up the signal and that helped lead authorities to her body. The cell phone 'locator' can be either set on: 1. 911 only' ... in which case you must dial out to be located; 2. or it can be set to be on all the time ... 'Location on'With it on all the time you can be located by emergency services through the police if you fail to respond (sick, injured or worse).

singlemom32 6 years, 8 months ago

I have a 8 almost 9 year old who wants to wear a bra, make-up, carry a purse, have a cell phone, wear a two piece, the list could continue. She wants these all because her friends are getting or wearing them. Peer pressure starts a really young age. Heck she even wants to wear glasses because her friends do. My rule for her is that if she can pay for them then we will talk about it. But she doesnt get an allowance so she has no money. In turn she can't buy them. She has a point system that she uses and when she gets enough points then I give her a choice of the rewards. Age appropiate ones. Responsiblities come first in our household. My daughters do chores. I don't wear their clothes so why should I be the one washing them and folding them and putting them away. Their not my pets their our pets. My daughters don't watch TV, I don't let them. I don't even let them play with their toys during the week or even on the internet. Our week is used for educational activities or physical activities. They can have fun on the weekend watching movies not TV(that I approve of) or they get to play with their toys. I may sound like I am strict but the way the world is now a days our jobs as parents is to teach and protect them. So if more parents stop allowing their children to watch TV(mainly) we wouldn't face the girls and boys trying to grow up when its not their time. So its not the influence of TV that these girls face its the peer pressure of parents who allow their child to watch TV. I am not a therapist or parent class teacher but a single mother who that the only one you can depend on is your self and that needs are to be met not wants. You know what I tell my kids when they ask for something they want "That they don't pay me enough to care what they want." Holidays and birthdays are when my children get their wants met. So in my opinion we as parents have the control of our children and we shouldn't be letting them con us into anything different. We are their parents not their friends.

singlemom32 6 years, 8 months ago

Definetly so Dena, the Bratz dolls are not allowed in our house either. With a name like Bratz, it teaches are daughters that being a brat is a good thing. Barbies are another thing. I admit I played with them when I was younger. But no one looks like that and if they did in todays society people would think that they have a eating disorder. I do let my children play with barbies but express that you don't have to look like that and being that skinny is very unhealthy. Atleast the Barbies represent a woman and not a little girl. Lots of toys, clothes, movies, TV shows, and yes even cigerette companies are using ads, and designs to make children think its cool. But we as parents do have that right to say NO! And to turn the TV off.

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