While girls struggle with body image and sexual pressures, boys are pushed into ‘macho’ behaviour prematurely due to the fast pace of modern life.
“Children no longer want to be seen as children, even when as parents we know they still are,” said Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of Netmums.
The site opened up the debate to visitors and received no fewer than a thousand replies. The overwhelming response was that childhood was over by the age of 12, while one third believed it was over by 10.
A ‘toxic’ combination of peer pressure, unrealistic ideals set by the media and advertising pressure has created a generation of over-sexualised children who feel they need to act older than they are.
Girls are worried about their weight and looks while boys feel pressure to act aggressively and show they’re ‘tough’.
MP Diane Abbott says easy access to explicitly sexual images on the Internet has lead to a ‘pornification of youth culture’, normalising violent sexual behaviour and setting unrealistic standards for both boys and girls.
Children do not have the emotional maturity to lead such adult lives. They need time to come to terms with their own identities and the pure volume of mixed messages being pumped into them from such a young age is only going to fuel the chaos of adolescence.
The teen years can be difficult for both parents and children. To find out how counselling can help, please visit our Child Related Issues page.
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