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Sext Up Kids

How Children are Becoming Hypersexualized

Sext Up Kids

Duration: 43 min
ISBN: 1-932869-67-0
Date Produced: 2012
Subtitles: English

Filmmaker Info
Related Links
Press Reviews
Praise for the Film

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Sext Up Kids
How Children are Becoming Hypersexualized

The powder keg that is porn culture has exploded in the lives of North American children. From thongs and padded bras for 9-year-old girls to "sexting," 24-7 internet porn, and unfiltered social media, kids today are bombarded with commercial sexual appeals like never before. In this astonishing new documentary, award-winning documentary filmmaker Maureen Palmer (Leaving Bountiful, How to Divorce and Not Wreck the Kids) explores what this radical transformation of the culture means for young people, parents, and our very notions of childhood. Palmer interviews researchers who have been tracking how the accelerating pressure to be sexy -- and sexual -- is changing kids' behavior and undermining their health. She sits down with parents and educators struggling to help kids navigate puberty in a hypermediated cultural environment that no longer seems to recognize or respect the developmental needs of children. And she talks to teens and pre-teens who share eerily casual insights into the routine role sex plays in their lives. The result is a stunning exploration of the sexualization of childhood and a startling wake-up call for parents who still think their own children are immune to the excesses and influences of today's sexed-up youth culture.

Directed by Maureen Palmer, and produced by Rick LeGuerrier and Timothy M. Hogan of Dream Street Pictures in association with CBC.

Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains Sexual Imagery & Language

Filmmaker Info

Directed by Maureen Palmer.
Produced by Rick LeGuerrier and Timothy M. Hogan of Dream Street Pictures in association with CBC.

Film Festivals

Interview with the filmmaker

Press Reviews

"How Bullies Thrive in a Hypersexualized Kid Culture" | The Tyee

"Takes a critical look at the increasing sexualization of young girls, drawing on comments from speakers who range from academics and media watchdogs to teen and preteens."
- Video Librarian

"It should stimulate some lively discussion about sexuality, popular culture, and the construction of childhood and adulthood. The film and other Media Education Foundation titles on gendered and sexual messages in the media make a strong case for paying more attention to culture and technology and for training young people in media literacy. Suitable for high school classes and for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of sex and gender, anthropology of technology, anthropology of popular culture, and American studies, as well as general audiences."
- David Eller, Anthropology Review Database

"Serves as an engaging and thought-provoking entrance into a conversation about the sexualization of youth for educators, students, and parents... The diversity of visual examples provided from current popular culture makes the film particularly relevant and memorable, and the inclusion of the teen voice provides authenticity and offers a glimpse of the lived experiences of adolescents."
- Journal of Children and Media

"Sext Up Kids skillfully uses expert testimonials, statistics, and case studies to reveal significant threats to our children's mental health, physical health, and social well-being. In particular, a disturbing new set of norms have resulted in increasing numbers of tweens and teens using social media to consume and produce sexually explicit material."
- Humanity & Society | Adina Nack, Professor of Sociology, Gender and Women's Studies, California Lutheran University

"Unapologetic in its dissection of current pop culture and porn, Sext Up Kids is meant to start a dialog among classmates, between parents and kids, and the world in general. ... Highly recommended, Sext Up Kids tackles a social issue affecting everyone and that not enough people are talking about."
- Educational Media Reviews Online

Praise for the Film

"Sext Up KIDS illuminates the profound, and devastating, impact our hypersexualized culture has on children and teens. Giving real-life examples of the serious ramifications for kids when their private sexual lives become public, this important new film inspires teens and parents to have strong and open communication about sexuality and healthy relationships. Powerful and heartbreaking, this is an invaluable resource for parents, teachers, professors, health care professionals, and anyone concerned about the well-being of children and teenagers."
- Rosalind Wiseman | Author of Queen Bees & Wannabes

"Sext Up KIDS takes an unflinching look at the issues girls confront every day in the contemporary hyper-mediated sexual environment. By opening up discussions of these crucial topics, it will be an invaluable teaching tool."
- Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Ph.D. | Author of The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It

"Sext Up KIDS, starting with the 'princess obsession' at age two, effectively demonstrates how growing girls are bombarded by television, songs, music videos, clothing ads, and all forms of social media to believe that what matters most is how they look and how 'hot' they are. Through interviews with kids, teachers and other experts, Sext Up KIDS shows how these hypersexualized images are damaging the emotional health of both girls and boys."
- Dr. Anita Gurian | Clinical Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry | NYU School of Medicine

"A sobering and must-see look at how an onslaught of sexualized media and marketing is undermining the healthy development of girls. I highly recommend this film for parents, activists, and media educators."
- Josh Golin | Associate Director, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

"Straightforward, powerful, and chilling, this precise and factual film gets to the point immediately: what I called 'the triple bind' -- which includes the huge sexualization of young teen girls -- is happening ever earlier, with devastating consequences. Sext Up KIDS is a needed slap in the face, which needs to be seen by the entire culture."
- Dr. Steven Hinshaw | Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley | Author of The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today's Pressures

"The film Sext Up KIDS offers an honest, accurate and sensitive portrayal of the sexualization of girlhood. By offering a compelling description of why and how this phenomenon has occurred, the researchers are able to effectively explain how girlhood is changing in contemporary culture. Moreover, the film cohesively identifies the potential long-term, social and emotional consequences for both girls and boys. Through real world examples, this film addresses the negative media messages about girls and highlights strategies for combating the negative stereotypes that are conveyed to girls and boys. This film is a must-see for educators, parents, social activists, mental health professionals, and youth."
- Jennifer R. Curry, Ph.D. | Assistant Professor of Counselor Education at Louisiana State University | School Counseling Program Coordinator

"In this remarkable documentary, we see the ways in which girls are objectified by media, advertising, public policy, and the adults who are supposed to protect them. But we also come to understand that girls are not just unwitting victims; they readily participate in their own objectification. The truth is, old heterosexist scripts for popularity and success haven't changed much. As Sext Up KIDS demonstrates, we should be concerned that girls so often understand their sexual identity from the outside -- as a kind of performance. The solution is more adult presence, and willingness on the part of parents, educators, counselors, and others, to listen to, and see them whole. When girls feel connected to safe adults, they are better able to give voice to their own subjective experiences, and to resist the depersonalization and heartache so wrenchingly depicted in this excellent film."
- Martha Straus, Ph.D. | Professor of Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England | Author of Adolescent Girls in Crisis: Intervention and Hope

"Sext Up KIDS does an exemplary job connecting the dots for parents and teachers with regard to our highly sexualized culture and the impact it is having on the development of healthy sexuality in our teens. From 'fairest of them all' to 'hottest girl in school' to 'Pornland,' girls are learning via the media and peers that their sexuality is a performance to be judged by others, while simultaneously boys are learning that girls are sex objects who should fit a very, very narrow definition of beauty. Sext Up KIDS shows how this impacts self esteem, peer relationships, body image, and intimacy in relationships. This film is a 'must-see' for parents and educators dedicated to raising healthy tweens and teens."
- Melissa Wardy | PigtailPals

"Sext Up KIDS offers a clear, comprehensive and forensic dissection on how and why our children are becoming inappropriately sexualised far too soon. In a society that is sleep-walking into hypersexualisation, this is an essential wake-up call for parents and educators alike."
- Tanith Carey | Author of Where Has My Little Girl Gone? How to Protect your Daughter From Growing Up Too Soon

"Sext Up KIDS gives access to some of the most important information parents need to know about our tweens, teens, and sex. What this documentary is about is how severely our kids are growing up these days without any clue how to have real intimacy, real connections, with those with whom they'll want romance. We are in a crisis, and conversations that arise from this documentary will be essential to change."
- Kerry Cohen | Author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity and Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity

"A troubling juxtaposition of daunting visual images and powerful personal narratives. Should be required viewing for parents who are in the dark or in denial about the new hyper-sexualized world of teens and tweens."
- Patrice A. Oppliger, Ph.D. | Author of Girls Gone Skank: Sexualization of Girls in American Culture

"Sext Up KIDS brazenly shines the spotlight on hyper-sexualized imagery of manufactured 'prosti-tots' and 'SesameStreetwalkers' vamping to the cues created by media and marketing messages. It's nothing short of corporate pedophilia and voyeuristic sleaze fouling up childhood, kids' socioemotional health, and our cultural compass as a whole."
- Amy Jussel | Executive Director of Shaping Youth

Click here to read the complete reviews

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