Jewish World Review Sept. 22, 2003 / 25 Elul, 5763

Bill O'Reilly

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Kids and sex | So what does Madonna do for an encore after smooching up Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on national television? She puts out a children's book. That's certainly in context, isn't it? What's next, a new Hardy Boys series written by Larry Flynt?

Madonna's book is harmless, some tale about English flowers with lessons for little girls. Somehow Madonna has become British, and I don't quite understand how that happened.

Anyway, most children's books are positive things, but Madonna has a karma debt to kids that this book is not going to wipe out. Over the years she has flounced around flaunting her sexuality, which is fine if you're an adult, but a bit confusing if you're a kid sitting there watching her locking lips with two pop stars whom you idolize. I bet millions of American parents were thrilled they had to answer questions about THAT.

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And then Madonna tells the press that she doesn't want her young daughter to get caught up in all the sex stuff. I love this tactic. It's OK for me to sex up a program I know kids will be watching, but I don't want my daughter to see it. Great.

The point is that many American children cannot escape being sexualized at a young age. The education reporter for the Washington Post, Linda Perlstein, spent a year with a bunch of adolescents in suburban Maryland and writes that sex is topic No. 1 in Middle School these days. Ten-year-olds know all about oral sex and other stuff that no child that young could possibly put into context or deal with emotionally.

The responsibility for the sexualization of the American child lies on two doorsteps. First, many parents are not nearly pro-active enough in protecting their kids from inappropriate sexual displays. No child should have a TV or computer in his or her bedroom. All communications equipment should be in the common areas of the house so parents can know what their kids are seeing. I mean this is insane. Any kind of perversity can be punched up on a computer and seen on cable television. And you let your kid access those things unattended? And if you are leaving a 10-year-old home unsupervised, shame on you.

Second, the media is simply a disgrace. MTV should be stoned, and I'm talking rocks, not drugs. These people consistently market lewd and lascivious behavior to children in order to make a buck. Another bad karma situation.

I'm not coming at this from a prudish point-of-view. I take a libertarian approach to private sexual behavior by adults. If you want to swing on a trapeze in private, it's nobody's business but your own, as long as you aren't breaking the law or hurting anyone in your sexual pursuits. But no good comes from sexualizing children. They cannot possibly make responsible decisions in this area and deserve to have a childhood free of sex. Remember JonBenet Ramsey? Didn't it make you sick seeing that little girl all tarted up by her mother in the pursuit of child beauty pageant ribbons? There is something very wrong about imposing any kind of sexuality on a child.

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We are not taking this topic seriously enough in America. Madonna can write all the children's books she wants, but until she stops being part of the problem, I will consider her insincere and hypocritical. Sex is for grownups. Period.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?"Comments by clicking here.

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