Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex

Harmful to Minors The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex Now available in paperback Judith Levine s controversial book challenges American attitudes towards child and adolescent sexuality especially attitudes promulgated by a Christian right that has effec

  • Title: Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex
  • Author: Judith Levine Joycelyn Elders
  • ISBN: 9781560255161
  • Page: 319
  • Format: Paperback
  • Now available in paperback, Judith Levine s controversial book challenges American attitudes towards child and adolescent sexuality especially attitudes promulgated by a Christian right that has effectively seized control of how sex is taught in public schools The author a thoughtful and persuasive journalist and essayist examines the consequences of abstinence only eduNow available in paperback, Judith Levine s controversial book challenges American attitudes towards child and adolescent sexuality especially attitudes promulgated by a Christian right that has effectively seized control of how sex is taught in public schools The author a thoughtful and persuasive journalist and essayist examines the consequences of abstinence only education and its concomitant association of sex with disease, and the persistent denial of pleasure She notes the trend toward pathologizing young children s eroticized play and argues that Americans should rethink the boundaries we draw in protecting our children from sex This powerful and illuminating work was nominated for the 2003 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

    One thought on “Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex”

    1. I’ve been pushing this book at pretty much everyone I saw this past weekend, so a lot of you have already gotten an earful. For the rest of you: find this book, read this book, give it a long hard mull. For it is awesome.Right, so. The first half of this book deals with the way American law and culture addresses – and mostly fails to address – sex and children. From the unsurprising indictment of sex-ed to the discussions of the misogyny and powerlessness perpetuated by statutory rape laws [...]

    2. Harmful to Minors is a unique book advocating a different approach to sex education and children's sexuality. The work is well-researched and I agree with many of the author's theses, though it doesn't attempt or pretend to be unbiased. Levine braves some very controversial waters by asserting that children should be, for the most part, left alone to explore their sexualities and that traumatizing children about sex and intruding on their privacy is ultimately harmful. She makes a convincing cas [...]

    3. If anyone doesn't quite see how the ultra-conservative Christian Fundamentalist agenda is and has been effecting the most intimate decisions we make, including how we raise children, this book will break much of it down for you. It took me a little while to process some of the things that Levine was arguing, because it goes against so much of what I was raised with, and you'll see what I mean if you read the book. Once I situated what she was writing within the right frame of mind, I found mysel [...]

    4. I find myself constantly returning to this excellent indictment of the ways in which American culture psychically terrorizes its youth in its misbegotten efforts to protect children from sexual knowledge. Judith Levine is bold, brave, and right on- an excellent antidote for what passes for sex education these days. Read it!

    5. 3.5 stars. I really enjoyed reading this book and it led me to question and/or rethink many of my assumptions regarding children/youth and sex. Some important and interesting points:- As a therapist, I found the "therapy" chapter really interesting. I had some disagreements (see below) but found it refreshing to hear someone challenging some sacred cows of the therapy field.- It can be really damaging when we pathologize children's normative sexual behavior as abuse, molestation, or trauma react [...]

    6. I'm very glad to see a book of this kind out on the market. I've thought for most of my adolescent (and now young adult) years that adults were just silly when it comes to sex and children. A lot of the research presented in this book backs that up. We can often do more harm to our children trying to protect them from sex and sexuality than we do them good. I think this book is the kind of thing every parent needs to be exposed to before having a child so that they can make informed and healthy [...]

    7. Brilliant and brave analysis of the incompetent and harmful efforts made to protect children and youth in this country from "harmful sexuality." In an age where nothing gains political capital like an effort to track and punish child molesters, Levine asks the tough questions such as, "Who exactly are these child molesters?" The answers will shock: Some of the so-called child molesters on the maps that parents scrutinize in paralyzed fear are flashers or a guy who got into an ill-advised relatio [...]

    8. A brilliant attack on right-wing (and left-wing) prudishness, abstinence education, and the evil homegrown American Nazi types who invented the myth of "child porn." However, in this book--published a few years ago, when the Internet may have seemed to hold more promise for creating a freer society than it does now--Levine tends to overrate the Web's potential ability to help youths become more sexually aware. By now, our native agents of repression have found ways to use THAT to ruin innocent p [...]

    9. a compelling discussion of the ways that we censor and punish young people's sexualities. of the ways that our cultural discomfort in approaching sex education has allowed for our children to be robbed of honest, comprehensive sex ed. levine asserts that NO ONE is teaching comprehensive sex ed in that none of us are pro-sex for young people. she chronicles policy making and how liberals have been losing this fight, simply by submission, since the 70's. she calls us to task and i found her to cha [...]

    10. Levine critiques societal norms and laws concerning minors and sexual relationships.Using historical and legal data she presents a strong argument in favor of reforming laws and norms that supposedly protect children from harm. She covers a range of topics from the effects of abstinence only education and why this form of education does not provide minors with the tools to make informed choices to statutory rape laws that are in serious need of reform. Overall it is a great read, just be open mi [...]

    11. I just re-read this about five years after first buying and reading it. Levine lays out her work in two halves -- the first laying out (and debunking) the anti-sex hysteria of contemporary America, and the second offering a considered sex-positive vision for kids and young adults. She's not afraid of the P-word -- pleasure.Five stars for a thorough and serious (and heavily footnoted) look at a difficult and important phenomenon. Four stars for still falling prey to some stereotypes about teens. [...]

    12. This country is obsessed with children and sex. A great deal of effort is expended on censorship in the name of making sexually explicit material inaccessible to children, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that children are harmed in any way after viewing it. I once made a presentation in the elementary school where my wife's son went; I wanted to point the browser on the classroom computer at my homepage, but I couldn't: as far as the school was concerned, the entire Internet except f [...]

    13. Should be absolutely mandatory reading. It questions so very many of the assumptions that we have about sexuality and how it pertains to children.You don't necessarily need to be convinced by some of the arguments, but they will (or should!) at the very least provide a lot of food for thought. I found myself being horrified at certain claims, only to later come around to the author's way of thinking by reflecting in the abstract and on some pretty relevant personal experiences.It's one of those [...]

    14. The overarching message of this book is not merely important to the adolescent development but imperative. Simply put, we must provide teens and preteens with better sexual education. Chapter after chapter, Levine details sad stories of children having to face real physical and emotional consequences due to their sexual ignorance. Instead of conveniently pointing the finger at one source (say, the saturation of the media's portrayal and framing of sexual images and sexuality in ONLY hetero-norma [...]

    15. We live in a society where fear and ideology are the basis for many of the decisions made regarding children and sexuality, from the ever present panic about sexual abuse to the prevalence of abstinence only education despite the predominance of evidence that it does not work. This is underlying message Judith Levine describes in Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex, a thought-provoking and intense work chronicling how we got to the place we are today and how these attit [...]

    16. One of, if not the, best non-fiction books I've read in years. Judith Levine's Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex is challenging, well researched and based in science and study.If you have children, consider yourself sex positive or progressive, you need to read this book.I consider myself both and found myself facing issues and facts that I had not previously considered, but am glad she did. Beyond fear, hysteria, repression, negativity and censorship, you find yourse [...]

    17. Some of the stuff in here is kinda boilerplate unreflective liberalism (esp. the stuff about gender and androgyny) but overall it's a scorching and in my anecdotal experience totally justified attack on the way that children in America are made to fear their own bodies and their sexuality and love the conformity and violence that is basically fucking us over all the time. Not particularly useful for teachers looking for tips on how to talk about sexuality with older teenagers without getting fir [...]

    18. I taught this book to college freshman, not realizing that it had the added boon of sneaking in some of the sex education that abstinence-only classes had denied them (so, um, do be prepared to answer questions that are about more than the rhetoric). The writing is clear, and her case for our misplaced fears of strangers lurking with candy is quite compelling, although I do think she down plays risk from family members. The fact that Americans are so afraid of pleasure that her publisher got sca [...]

    19. The first half of this book is an excellent deconstruction of the 'abstinence only' program of sexual education and how farcical and damaging it is. This was, of course, preaching to my own personal choir. I found the second half the truly brilliant part - where Levine lays out what a truly progressive sexual education for children would be. I adored the focus on community and communal participation - as well as the emphasis on both romantic and physical want, for boys and girls both. Wonderful [...]

    20. Hey, guess what, teenagers have sex because it feels good and because it's a way to experience love and closeness with another person, ie, for the same reason adults do. While we have a duty to protect minors from unwanted sex, incest, and being molested, our moral hysteria is not actually helping anyone. This was a controversial book that got Levine called very bad names by the religious right - the same people who brought you abstinence-only education, Prop 8, etc. A fig in their eye and a pox [...]

    21. Still halfway through this, after two years. Which is not to say it's not excellent. I am totally on board with Levine's pragmatism and general take on the subject, and she writes well. But you know how sometimes reading something you agree with is very fascinating and invigorating and sometimes it's just, yeah, duh? I'm getting the latter, I guess, because I keep putting it down and not picking it up again. Still, this is stuff I think about a lot and she's really laid in out comprehensively an [...]

    22. An uncomfortable review for me to write, because the book is about kids' sexuality. But that's just the author's point: Levine sets out to neutralize harmful cultural assumptions about children and sex. Some of her arguments swung a bit too liberal for me; of course, I am a confirmed fence-sitter. All in all, a well-thought out book that provides a much-needed different perspective on the topic.

    23. This is not a typical book, in some ways, and in others, it very much is.Harmful to Minors makes many fair points about infantilizing children, pathologizing normal behavior, and using people's protectiveness of children to pass censorship laws. On that note, I could recommend the book.Unfortunately, the ways in which it is typical far outweigh the valid points the author makes. I understand that many are in favor of birth control and abortion, but Ms. Levine seems to practically salivate at the [...]

    24. I really like the first half of this book. Levine challenges all our Puritanican notions about protecting children from sex. She forces us to ask "What IS the harm to minors?" when it comes to sex. We think we just instinctively know what kids should and shouldn't know, see, or do but where do these ideas come from? (Hint: The Christian Right.) To me, the most interesting theme that runs throughout this book is agency. At what point does a child have control and say so over his or her own body a [...]

    25. The low rating is not for the content or points made in this book; it's because I was, frankly, bored half to death in the reading. It's a little on the alarmist side for an anti-hysteria book, and despite the wealth of relevant scientific data available on the topic, this seems to focus almost entirely on the problems (and anecdotes) specific to American culture. That's fair, I guess. All the same, I'm finding Ellis to have a much more balanced and open-minded approach to the subject. Plus, he [...]

    26. Very thought provoking. Sees sexuality as a continuum from birth through sexual maturity. And tells us to light up when young children explore their physical feelings and body parts. Points out that true pedophilia is very rare, and most criminal cases involve a teenager and a young adult. She implies that if a young person's first lover is 10 years older that's not necessarily a bad thing (boy, girl, gay or straight). I don't think a man could write a book like this without being accused of all [...]

    27. I saw this book in my university's library and skimmed through it, needing something to read on the bus that day. I took it home and could not put it down for the next 14 hours. It's an interesting exploration of many issues that a lot of people find too shocking or improper to talk about. I commend the author for not only daring to approach this subject but also for doing it with such a compassionate and educated stance.

    28. I read this book solely due to the huge controversy that surrounded it. Mainly, it argues that children are sexual beings and that denying this fact is dangerous. One interesting part is her take on the ways in which the media uses incidents of child sexual abuse to drum up fear about sexuality in general.

    29. The discussion of abortion in the US, Levine writes, has resulted in "resurrected 'jailbait' laws [that are often used to target gay men]." Levine complains that "the political center has shifted so far rightward and the symbolic time frame so far backward that even mainstream organizations are adopting anachronism and calling it innovation."

    30. Eye-opening and compulsively readable. Definitely a different perspective - I can see kind of why its contents were once called "radioactive." Although some statistics seemed a bit questionable, the book was peer-reviewed 5 times (as compared to the usual 2), so I figure it must be fairly accurate.

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