(I’ve posted links before, but here’s a look inside my first published book, Pure Power, about the early sexualization of preteen girls. This excerpt is the introduction. If you want to read more, the book is available to order through BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com. It is also available in e-book through Amazon. Enjoy!)
Parents & Leaders: Why This Book Now?
In 2007, in Indianapolis, Indiana, two sixth-graders shocked parents and community members when they had sexual intercourse in an industrial shop classroom. They did so with the teacher in the room and classmates keeping watch to alert them if adults came near. A month later, in Louisiana, police arrested four fifth-grade students – two boys and two girls – for having sex in a classroom while the teacher was out for 15 minutes. Authorities charged another boy for being the lookout. In early 2010, in the Northeastern part of the United States, an 11-year-old girl gave birth to a son.
Middle school students are being exposed to sex in the media at a time in their lives when they are reaching puberty – albeit sooner than youth twenty years ago – and as parents are less attentive and dealing with their own multiple broken marriages and revolving-door relationships. Access to sexually explicit images and birth control is easy, and the consequences of intercourse and oral sex, both physically and emotionally, are being ignored or glorified as a rite of passage. These girls see themselves as needing to be sexy or in a relationship in order to be loved or accepted. They clothe themselves in the garb of older teens, young adults, and glorified models on television and in magazine ads. Lingerie shops market thong underwear and provocative outerwear to fifth- and sixth-graders. These girls often believe that dressing as an adult makes them more acceptable and desirable to their peers.
With this same epidemic is the growing rate of younger students having oral sex as a substitute and precursor to intercourse. One study stated that even girls who said they wanted to remain virgins until marriage had oral sex 50 to 60 times and many used it as a way to say goodnight, substituting the goodnight kiss that was common 30 years ago. Oral sex and intercourse are also becoming more frequent subjects on teen-focused television series like The Secret Life of an American Teenager and Degrassi: The Next Generation. Even networks geared toward younger kids, such as Nickelodeon, feature shows focusing on relationships and outer appearances.
Preteens develop an attitude that sex might as well happen now, because it has to happen at some point. While some preteens attach emotions to the hollow, empty acts that leave them feeling regretful and shamed, others detach themselves and see sex as just a bump-and-grind physical experience that can be momentarily pleasurable, without consideration for the emotional and spiritual fallout that accompanies sex before they are mentally, physically, and psychologically ready. Studies show that early sexualization of girls often leads to the three biggest mental health issues – depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders – that affect young girls and women throughout their lives.
In communities of all sizes across the country, sixth-grade girls dress in low-cut, high-rise blouses that expose belly buttons, hipster pants that reveal thong underwear, short skirts and high heels. Many of these girls have siblings who engage in sexual activities and some have become parents at young ages. They come from broken homes and are surrounded by a variety of parental boyfriends and girlfriends. Their home environments are unstable and unpredictable, and they may feel alone and desperate for any type of attention or connection to another human being.
Preteen girls talk and obsess about having boyfriends and, when they lose a boyfriend, convince themselves they aren’t pretty or worthy enough to catch a boy’s attention or affection. They show little respect for their friends and parents, violating trusts and spouting hate-filled language whenever they are unable to cope with the feelings raging through their bodies. They have little respect for themselves and continually strive for another person to fulfill them and make them feel worthy.
To keep from being hurt, they behave as if they don’t care and often struggle with showing genuine love and affection. Sex and boyfriends dominate most conversations with their friends. They want to experience grown-up activities and situations, yet have barely adjusted to their changing bodies. They most desire to be accepted by their peers and potential boyfriends.
These experiences and behaviors are not unique, but instead are epidemic in communities across the country, including yours.
In a Midwest community where the idea for this book started, four elementary schools teach students in kindergarten through sixth grade, while junior high serves seventh- and eighth-graders. The junior high meshes raging hormones and lack of academic or personal direction with a new educational structure of multiple teachers, class changes, and stricter expectations without the benefit of guidance and nurturing. The students go from a fostering single elementary classroom with one or two teachers to a chaotic schedule accentuated by four elementary schools dumping into one junior high. Not only are students faced with the different demands of junior high structure, but they often lose longtime friends as new cliques form. They may endure new pressure to fit in by having or experimenting with sex, drugs and violence. This particular junior high generally has more calls to police officers than the nearby high school, and seventh- and eighth-graders are no longer immune from getting pregnant or being kicked out of school for drugs or violence against other students and teachers.
Focusing on the difficult time girls experience entering junior or senior high school, this book gives preteen girls a firmer, Christ-focused foundation so they have tools and insight to battle the crises and tribulations that arise once they leave the sanctuary of elementary school.
The most critical need in empowering young girls for emotionally healthy lives is to help them understand God’s plan for their lives, including what that means within the context of purity. Preteen girls need to know God intended sex between a husband and a wife and giving their virginity to someone before they are married violates the special gift God gives each one of them. Young girls need to understand the benefit of remaining pure and realize having sex before marriage impacts their future husband, their children, and their children’s children. They also need to be empowered to make their own choices, rather than following the crowd and being emotionally devastated when relationships go awry.
The Purpose of This Book
Preteen girls encounter a society that expects them to grow up faster than their age designates. This book teaches them to ignore society’s demands on them and focus on God’s rules for them. This book addresses the issue of preteen girls being pressured into or choosing to have sex at an early age and gives them information and choices to help focus on God’s plan for their lives. The book also empowers girls to be individuals and make their own decisions and not succumb to societal pressure; to practice modesty and not dress in provocative styles designed for more mature women; to learn how to respect other people by first respecting themselves and the gifts God gave them, and to bring to the forefront of their minds how a relationship with Jesus Christ plays into all of these attributes. The context provides an outlet for them to feel loved and accepted and give them a venue where they feel safe to express themselves and explore their relationship with Christ.
Through reading this book, preteens learn to become young women of God and better understand how their actions, the way they dress, and the media influence in their lives shape their thoughts and motivate their actions. This book gives them the spiritual and biblical foundation to make better decisions and view their lives as God’s plan. Through reading and studying this book, preteen girls will learn how to alter their preconceived notions and focus on remaining pure until marriage by seeking Jesus Christ and having His power and love envelop and emanate from their lives.
This preteen purity book can be used for small-group study or as an informative read for individuals, both youth and adult alike.
Working together, parents, educators, youth leaders, pastors and volunteers can positively impact the lives of preteen girls and help them see and understand that the world is bigger than what they are experiencing at this moment. We can help them achieve pure power in their lives.
 Chapman, S. (2007). School district: Sixth graders had sex in class. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from WTHR.com: http://www.wthr.com/Global/story.asp?S=6180780
 Devon, M. (2007, April 6). Fifth grade students arrested for having sex in classroom. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from Associated Content: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/206091/fifth_grade_students_arrested_for_having.html?cat=4
 Doyle, J. (2010, February 5). Girl, 11, gives birth to baby boy in Northeast hospital. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_story/0,3566,584936,00.html
 McCarroll, J. (2001, August 15). Parents gird for midriff wards with preteen set. Christian Science Monitor .
 Jarrell, A. (2002). A matter of concern: Sex in middle school. San Diego: Greenhaven Press.
 Clark, C. (2004). Hurt: Inside the world of today’s teenagers. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, by Baker Publishing Group.
 Weiner, S. (2007, February 20). Goodbye to girlhood: As pop culture targets ever younger girls, psychologists worry about a premature focus on sex and appearance. The Washington Post .