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Group tries to open eyes to hypersexualizing of minors

PHOENIX — A group of survivors and experts are working to raise awareness about hyper-sexualization of minors in the media.

Cordelia Anderson, author of the Impact of Pornography on Children, Youth and Culture, was in the Valley on Friday for a reception hosted by PBS Eight Arizona and Phoenix Children’s Hospital discussing the prevalence of sexualized minors in the media, what the causes are and how to combat the issue.

Anderson said there are examples all over the media of hyper-sexualized children.

“From reality TV shows, to Toddlers and Tiaras … look at the depiction of Miley Cyrus,” Anderson said. “The way that you make more money, the way that you make more attention is to not only be hyper-sexualized, but almost dealt with as a porn commodity.”

She said the hyper-sexualization of minors can lead children to have a distorted view of sex and caused unrealistic expectations.

“We’re seeing it in the impact on their behavior in terms of sexually reactive and sexually problematic behaviors,” Anderson said. “We’re also seeing that it changes their expectations, a lot of sexual harm is normalized, and they think that this is how boys are supposed to behave, how boys are supposed to treat girls, (and) how girls want to be treated.”

She said the over sexualization of minors has an impact on the adult demand for sexual exploitation of children as well.

“The more and more children are depicted as legitimate sexual objects for arousal by adults, the more that feeds sex trafficking of children and the amount of child pornography,” Anderson added.

Anderson said education and awareness are major factors in reducing demand, but said that more needs to be done and people need to start actively seeking a change.

“We’ve got to be thinking about policies and organizational practices,” she said. “It’s not just education, it’s not just awareness, we want people to take action to demand a different kind of programming and demand different kinds of protections for children and for adults.”

The reception was held at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Phoenix on Friday as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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