The new goodnight kiss–a parent’s nightmare.
I have a hard time even typing the title of the documentary. But here goes: Oral Sex, the New Goodnight Kiss. Check it out on the GMA site. You won’t be able to stop watching. Not my usual fare, but I was sent out to report on the film and it’s implications for Good Morning America. Yeah, Yeah, you are probably saying to yourself , that’s nothing new. Teens and oral sex. But this story has a twist. Girls as young as twelve are performing the service for money. Twenty bucks here or there. A new purse. A few sweaters. Talk about transactional sex. It’s stomach-turning, and although the film was shot over the course of a long year in the Canadian suburbs, it’s happening in US suburbs as well, according to law enforcement experts we talked with. The girls seem to feel, as one put it, “I’m going to do it anyway, so I might as well get paid.”
Even more disturbing is that this phenomenon is truly not about money. Our experts told us the girls often come from affluent families–they have more than enough. There’s no obvious problem–something we could immediately rule out so we’d all feel better. But they are, apparently, lacking in parental attention and guidance.
It was a wake-up call for me, as a parent who watches my 7 year old navigate the computer better than I do constantly reminding myself every time I see him click around that I need to check out that parental control stuff, that I need to focus in, and hard. Indeed, that’s what we were told is the best way to keep your child from staring in a story like this one. Engage. One law enforcement psychologist told us that in fact parents need to be 150 percent on top of their game these days–given all of the outside influences coming at their kids. Things they can’t even begin to control. They need to be fully engaged, and aware of what is happening in those young lives. And trying to talk about anything and everything from an early age.
But most important–set clear boundaries and values. Seems obvious, I know. But the potential consequences that I saw as I reported this story made me do a double-think. I mean, I believe that my kids know what we value as a family, and would make good decisions. But there’s so much competition–on TV, on-line, in movies, from savvier-than-I can-believe-friends–it’s like having Times Square (circa 1979) right outside our door.
My approach for now–to try to describe and demystify the sights and hope they become less alluring. Confused about the word “sexy,” lately, and wondering whether it is “inappropriate,” you can bet my son got, instead of a dodge, my full attention, and probably more information than he’d ever expected!