It was a young parent, who came across the image of two underage girls on a localised facebook fashion page, and raised the alarm on how children were being depicted like adults.
This only reinforces the argument that parents and parenting have a key role to play in ensuring the safe and healthy development of children, girls in particular, growing up in today’s environment, where commercial and other influences are as powerful as they can get.
Given the focus of popular media that is all pervasive, whether in print, visual or online, there is pressure on children to adopt sexualised behaviour and appearance at an early age.
This is perhaps exactly what the localised facebook fashion page shows. It would be pointless to blame the underage children, who do not have the capacity to take mature and well thought out decisions, for wanting to be depicted in a certain way, after all the media is full of such stuff that is lapped up by most.
But what about those, who might have influenced and convinced the children to be depicted in a way, designed to draw attention to features they do not yet possess?
If parents with children around that age were given the power to decide, they would definitely want that person behind bars immediately, although it is not clear whether the person, who posted the images, is a minor as well.
This is why stringent regulations and an effective regulatory body is needed to nip in the bud such developments, and send out a strong message that this kind of activity will not be tolerated.
In Bhutan’s case, stringent regulations are all the more needed, because many of our youth, who have left school and are desperately looking for work in urban centres, comes from rural homes, whose parents are not literate.
While certain laws are already there that do not allow such activities, Bhutan could learn from other countries, where ‘sexualisation of children’ is a major issue, in putting in place more stringent policies.
Studies and research done in other countries on this issue stress that premature sexualisation of girls increases the risks of becoming victims of prostitution, violence and unwanted forms of pornography. Premature sexualisation is also linked with health problems, low self-esteem and depression.
Other studies say that such trends may serve to normalise abusive practices, child prostitution and sexual trafficking of children.
Yet other reports say that, in many cases, the problem is with parents, who do not want their children to miss out or restrict their social life.
For us here, this is just the beginning, but a good time to do something about it, like the young parent did.