UPDATE 6/4/2018 We are dismayed to report that following this blog post, the film was not edited as promised, and has been showing in theaters. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) screened the film and reported that the sexually exploitive narrative and scenes of genital touching remain in the movie. We strongly advise the parents and caregivers to not take children to this film.
“Global Road Entertainment has betrayed parents and endangered children by its failure to cut scenes normalizing genital touching from its children’s movie. By sending the message to children that allowing genital touching by adults is rewarding and sexy, Show Dogs paves the way for child abusers,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCOSE.
So many big wins for kids in just a few days! From Show Dogs to Snapchat, corporations made changes in response to public outcry.
It’s been an amazing week, proving that when people speak up, change can really happen! Although it’s true that sexualized media keeps spreading and targeting our children and teens, there are signs of a growing awareness that sexual content has harmful effects on our kids and our culture.
It actually started last week,when a major distributor of online games, Steam, asked video game creators to remove graphic sexual content. In the past few days, Snapchat shut down it’s explicit channel, Cosmo After Dark, after just one week. And the movie Show Dogs was pulled from theaters to remove deeply disturbing scenes about a dog overcoming his discomfort about judges handling his private parts.
All of this happened because enough people complained and said no more! From leading organizations like NCOSE, to online bloggers and news sources raising a warning call, to the many parents who caused an uproar through social media and petitions, the public let these companies know they had crossed the line.
We all feel helpless at times watching the rising wave of sexual, violent, and degrading content in our society. These recent successes are inspiring because they show that together, we do have power to motivate change!
Show Dogs and Snapchat: Lessons on the power of public demand
What can we learn from these events that will help us take effective action in the future?
Here are four big take-aways:
- We don’t have to roll over and let media get progressively worse, creating an increasingly toxic culture for our kids to grow up in. We can do something about it!
- We can’t demand change if we aren’t aware of what is happening. Our influence will grow as we keep current and share what we learn with other parents.
- Social media can amplify our objections loud enough to be heard by corporations. If you want to unite with other parents who care, join our private Facebook community!
- When voicing our concerns, it pays to be bold, specific, and clear about how the content harms children.
Current events as teaching tools
This is a teaching opportunity to empower your kids!
Talk about the power of speaking up. Kids don’t have to grow up thinking we can’t change things. You might start with, “Guess what! This week so many people complained about a movie that they actually stopped showing it in theaters and are going to take out some of the bad scenes. That’s pretty cool!”
Strong kids are aware of media messages
One of the first people to raise a warning about Show Dogs was a parent who took her kids to the movie as part of her job. When they found the movie had a troubling message that normalized touching private parts, she didn’t stay silent. She had a direct conversation with her kids right away about keeping their bodies safe.
The fancy name for this is media literacy, which just means being aware of the underlying messages in movies, advertising, music, and all the other forms of media we are bombarded with each day.
Your kids will be prepared to unravel those messages as they develop a framework for evaluating and making decisions about media, adapted for their age and stage.
This is a perfect time to discuss how your family chooses good entertainment. You could say, “The movie Show Dogs looked like it was going to be a cute, fun dog movie, but it actually had some very dangerous messages. We need to be careful – what are your ideas for how we can choose good movies?” Check out our free guide at the end of this post to help you talk about media standards!
Bodies, Sex, Relationships: Three easy questions for media literacy
The following questions are practical tools kids can use to develop an internal filter as they choose what they watch, read, listen to and play.
- What does this teach about bodies and how does that compare to our values about bodies?
- What does this teach about sex and how does that compare to our values about sex?
- What does this teach about relationships and how does that compare to our values about relationships?
These simple talking points can help you have very clear discussions about why the movie or other media in question is either harmful or helpful. This is especially great for older kids who want to talk about why, not just be told “no.”
Younger children can first learn about these tools from you as you explain how and why you make the rules in your family. As they grow, you can use the tools together to choose entertainment. By the time they are out and about without you beside them, they will be ready to use these tools to make good decisions on their own.
Power to the People!
The retreat of Show Dogs and Snapchat’s Cosmo After Dark are encouraging signs!
Now is a great time to build online connections with like-minded parents to work together in the future. We’d love to have you join our Protect Young Minds – Parent Discussion Group on Facebook where our community shares ideas both for public action and for strengthening your kids right in your own home.
Together we can find peace and power in a challenging world!
Get our FREE tool for talking to your kids about choosing good media, including a worksheet for creating a family plan!