We are asking our children to carry loads that are entirely too heavy for them. American society is asking children to make reasonable calculations and adult decisions about things they should barely even know anything about. Too many adults are pushing sexuality on young children, and we each need to be asking ourselves questions about why that has become an accepted practice and who that practice benefits because it is clearly not our nation’s children.

In recent history, societal protection of the innocence of children has customarily been implied. Though ancient times weren’t kind to babies or children, both Christianity and the Enlightenment brought a new understanding of the intrinsic value of human life and the subsequent value of children. Psalm 127 and Matthew 18, among many other passages, reflect that indisputable fact. Sometimes seen as necessary religious instruction, but almost always maintained as a societal construct in modern society, the protection of the innocence of children is paramount for both biblical and societal justice.

The fundamental understanding that children are innocent and should be protected can be understood from both a historical and psychological perspective. “From the 19th century onward, the idea of children’s innocence is strongly interrelated with children’s sexuality. Innocence is then emphasized to defend the assumption of an absence of sexuality in children and the demand for such absence. Innocence is not a scientific term; therefore, the numerous studies concerning processes, seminal ideas, and functions of the value assessment of children and childhood do not constitute a unified research area. Researchers deal with questions of children’s innocence often rather implicitly. They do so while analyzing the social construction and reconstruction of childhood at different times and in different historical and contemporary contexts.”

Christian heroine Corrie Ten Boom illustrated the situation perfectly in her book, The Hiding Place: “So the line had stuck in my head. ‘Sex,’ I was pretty sure, meant whether you were a boy or girl, and ‘sin’ made Tante Jans very angry, but what the two together meant I could not imagine. And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, ‘Father, what is sexsin?’ He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise, he said nothing. At last, he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. 'Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?' he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. ‘It’s too heavy,’ I said. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now, you must trust me to carry it for you.”

We are asking our children to carry the astronomical weight of an adult understanding of human sexuality (and all the variations thereof) using their childhood minds and elementary level of experience; that is wrong. Children aren’t mini-adults. Children are fully human but not fully developed humans, and therefore shouldn’t be treated as though they can handle the entire world on their tiny shoulders. They should not be forced, as children, to see and feel the world through the jaded and educated glasses of adults. In fact, it can be quite damaging and create lifelong struggles for them if children are forced to bear the weight of adult problems and issues within the confines of their childhood.

From Mental Health Daily: “Although brain development is subject to significant individual variation, most experts suggest that the brain is fully developed by age 25. For some people, brain development may be complete prior to age 25, while for others it may end after age 25. The mid-20s or ‘25’ is just an average age given as checkpoint for when the brain has likely become mature. It may seem logical that those aged 18 to 25 are completely mature, the brain still is maturing — specifically, the area known as the ‘prefrontal cortex.’ Changes occurring between ages 18 and 25 are essentially a continued process of brain development that started during puberty. When you’re 18, you’re roughly halfway through the entire stage of development. The prefrontal cortex doesn’t have nearly the functional capacity at age 18 as it does at 25. This means that some people may have major struggles with impulsive decisions and planning behavior to reach a goal. The brain’s reward system tends to reach a high level of activation during puberty, then gradually drifts back to normal activation when a person reaches roughly the age of 25. Adults over the age of 25 tend to feel less sensitive to the influence of peer pressure and have a much easier time handling it.“

Asking children to make adult decisions that are developmentally premature is unfair to them and creates injustice. Conversely, innocence is a value worth fighting for. Pushing back against secular progressive forces will take unrelenting action from those of us who believe childhood innocence benefits children and society, regardless of our status as parents or grandparents.  Children matter; their innocence is worth protecting.

When we see developmentally inappropriate books in our libraries and bookstores, we should call attention to them and ask that they be moved to a different area or shelved.

When we see teachers or school mental health counselors discussing personal or inappropriate ideas about human sexuality with the children they teach or counsel, we should put a stop to it immediately. 

When we hear of “family-friendly” drag or sexually-oriented shows, parades or events, we must call out the lie that adult sexuality is family-oriented and demand those events cease in our communities by pressure or by law. 

When children are asked to declare their pronouns, discuss their sexuality or memorize definitions of words they cannot possibly comprehend, we should decline to participate and demand an end to that type of school or community programming. 

When we see children being asked to answer adult questions about adult matters before they are ready to, we should step forward on their behalf and demand answers of those asking the questions ourselves.

When we see children being cajoled or abused into thinking that the natural uncertainty and near-universal discomfort of adolescence is a disease to be eradicated with medicines and surgeries, we should stand firm against that lie regardless of the personal cost.

Alabama is not immune from this intentional insurrection of childhood innocence. All the examples listed above are happening in our “red state” and unabated in our immediate communities. It isn’t puritanical or prudish to expect children to be allowed to grow up in their own time and at their own pace, without adult interjection or interference; anyone who makes that argument denies science, societal norms and common sense. We all must do our part as parents, caregivers, teachers and political leaders to carry adult matters for our children until they are old enough to bear the load of issues that can only be understood by those who have walked the entire path to adulthood. Standing up for the innocence of our children is up to us; Alabama’s children and their futures are counting on our resolve.

Stephanie Holden Smith is an experienced policy analyst, political commentator, and public speaker. Smith has worked and volunteered in Governmental Affairs in Alabama since 1997, including lobbying for a Fortune 500 company and serving as Deputy Director of Finance for the State of Alabama. She is currently the principal of Thatcher Coalition LLC. To contact Stephanie, please go to http://thatchercoalition.com.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information [email protected].

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