PART ONE: Too Sexy, Too Soon?

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Is America an over-sexualized society? With sexy images in magazines, TV and the internet, some say the media is creating a sexually driven society that's forcing our kids to grow up too fast.

Sex is on TV; it's all over the internet, not to mention just about every magazine in every store.

There is no doubt sex sells but are the images of America's sex driven culture appealing to a much younger demographic: The tween generation also known as Generation Y.

"You can't keep them from everything," said Dr. Laurie Pitre, the principal at North Bay Elementary School in Biloxi.

"There is much more media exposure. When we were growing up the options were to watch TV or to go outside and play. That was it," said Dr. Pitre.

Now, seven to 12 year olds have endless options when it comes to media marketing and specialty shopping. It's turning hallways into catwalks and forcing administrators to crack down on what not to wear.

"If someone comes in with a skirt that's a little too short, not down to their fingertips, then we call the parent and politely ask them to bring a change of clothing," said Dr. Pitre.

According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average American child spends more than 38 hours a week on the computer, playing video games, listening to music, or watching TV. The same report notes that 68% of that material contains some kind of sexual content.

It makes it difficult for children to escape the images of bare midriffs or raunchy t-shirts. And with pressure to dress like their favorite celebrities, parents often times find themselves in a fight when it comes to what their kids should or should not be wearing.

A battle boutique owner Rebeca Strickland-Fairley knows all too well.

"I have zero concept of age anymore. A lot of the younger girls are dressing older like their sisters and so forth. And like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift and those kinds of celebrities that you see," said Rebeca Strickland-Fairley.

Fairley is the owner of Panache, a clothing boutique that caters to women from ages 16 to 60, but it's not uncommon to find even younger girls browsing through the racks at the Gulfport boutique.

"You might see a 12-year-old wearing what you might want to wear," Fairley said.

Fairley often finds herself serving as a mediator of sorts.

"It's interesting because some of them want to look like everybody else but some of them want to develop their own sense of style," Fairley said.

"I think they have to decide, what type of image do you really want to portray and yes you may want to wear this cool shirt but what does that cool shirt say about you," said Dr. Pitre.

Racy tees are all the rage when it comes to boys; however, they are also effected by images in the media.

Many magazines tend to portray the idea of looking good for the ladies. Some people say it teaches the boys to simply look at the body as an object.

However, as our sexy society continues to try and mold our children, it's up to parents to know when to draw the line.

While school leaders are doing their part to try and educate children about sex in the media, what are parents doing at home? Thursday, Elise will introduce you to one South Mississippi mother who has not one but two "tween girls."

You'll see how she and her husband are raising the girls in our sexy society and what the girls told me when I asked them what it means to be sexy.