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In doing so, she reveals that it is clearly ignorance and ideology, not the developmental needs of young people, that underlie our current approach. With our children's lives, health and happiness at stake, Levine asserts, we need a bold new vision for addressing their needs, one that recognizes that sex defined as a range of sexual acts, not merely intercourse is a great gift to be celebrated and enjoyed, not a menace to be contained and blamed.

It is in putting this vision into practice where Levine falters. She proposes that children and adolescents have an innate right to information, a right to experience sexual pleasure and a right to engage in sexual activities with others.

Harmful to Minors The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex

But she forgets that knowing, feeling and doing are not one and the same: The right to one's feelings is absolute, but the right to know and to act are relative to one's age and circumstance. Moreover, proclaiming as Levine does that sex is inherently good is as dogmatic as proclaiming that sex is inherently bad.


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It sidesteps the fact that sex is inherently powerful, with tremendous capacity for good and pleasure, but also for pain and suffering. Helping young people learn how to enjoy the gifts of sex is an adult responsibility, but so is helping them to understand and manage its power. Levine articulately addresses the moral issues intrinsic in sexual decision-making. Yet nowhere does she offer strategies for helping children and adolescents develop skills for moral thinking.

And while she includes poignant anecdotes that clearly demonstrate the importance of parent-child communication in shaping healthy attitudes and behavior, she summarily dismisses parents as successful sex educators. Most parents, she insists, are simply too uncomfortable to "walk the walk"; besides, kids would really rather talk to someone else, anyway. Where are kids to find moral guidance on sex if not from their parents?


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The best Levine can do is suggest a number of sex-education Web sites. In a popular culture that glorifies sex at every turn, promotes the sexualization of children at earlier and earlier ages and continues to model unhealthy gender -role stereotyping and relationships, Levine's call for a new approach to sex education is important-but inadequate. Our children's best hope is not, as Levine suggests, that we simply give them permission to enjoy sex and then step out of their way.

Rather, we must stay close enough to help them learn how to deal with sex in the most positive and healthy ways. For us to do anything less is truly "harmful to minors. Deborah Roffman, M. Back Psychology Today.

Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex - Judith Levine

Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Back Magazine. SearchWorks Catalog Stanford Libraries. Harmful to minors : the perils of protecting children from sex. Responsibility Judith Levine ; foreword by Joycelyn M. Imprint Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, c Physical description xxxv, p. Online Available online. Full view.

Harmful to Minors

Green Library. L Unknown HQ L Unknown. More options. Find it at other libraries via WorldCat Limited preview. Bibliography Includes bibliographical references p. Contents Censorship: the sexual media and the ambivalence of knowing Manhunt: the pedophile panic Therapy: "children who molest" and the tyranny of the normal Crimes of passion: statutory rape and the denial of female desire No-sex education: from "chastity" to "abstinence" Compulsory motherhood: the end of abortion The expurgation of pleasure The facts, and truthful fictions What is wanting?


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