EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 13, 2012

Dads group looks at media's impact on children

NEWBURYPORT — When it comes to parenting norms, the PTO and its power to mobilize on behalf of schools and children has historically been the domain of mommies.

But a group of dads from the River Valley Charter School is proving that guys aren’t adverse to taking on some of the good work moms have been doing for decades to build strong bonds between school and the home.

And tonight, this group of modern dads is sounding the alarm about how the sexualization of the country’s boys and girls is threatening the next generation, sponsoring the visit of well-known author and educational pioneer Jean Kilbourne for a one-night-only speaking engagement at the Old South Church on Federal Street at 7.

“The impetus for this was to build bridges (with other local schools) and to really have a series that is addressing issues for parents which may or may not already be addressed in the schools,” said RVCS Dads Group President John Badalament.

“The schools already have so much they’re trying to address, so we wanted to enhance and augment what’s going on in the schools. What Jean is going to do is help parents understand the world of pop culture and media imagery and make sense of how that impacts boys and girls at different ages.”

It was 38 years ago that Kilbourne began sounding alarm about the dangerous methods being used to sell products at the expense of women, screening her film “Killing Us Softly” across college campuses and high schools and getting the message out about how unrealistic and sometimes violent images of young women being sold to consumers was harming young girls.

With her message resonating across high school and college campuses, Kilbourne continued making videos, authoring books and speaking out. Looking back over 40 years, she’s sad to say the media’s impact on girls has only gotten worse, and the media climate has become just as hostile toward boys.

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