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No Apto Para Menores /...
Judith Levine
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No Apto Para Menores / Harmful to Minors: Los Peligros De Proteger a Los Ninos Y a Los Adolecentes Contra El Sexo / the Perils of Protecting Children from Sex (El Ojo Infalible / the Infallible Eye)

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  370 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Now available in paperback, Judith Levine's controversial book challenges American attitudes towards child and adolescent sexuality-especially attitudes promulgated by a Christian right that has effectively seized control of how sex is taught in public schools. The author-a thoughtful and persuasive journalist and essayist-examines the consequences of "abstinence" only edu
Paperback, 364 pages
Published July 5th 2006 by Oceano De Mexico (first published March 26th 2002)
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I’ve been pushing this book at pretty much everyone I saw this past weekend, so a lot of you have already gotten an earful. For the rest of you: find this book, read this book, give it a long hard mull. For it is awesome.

Right, so. The first half of this book deals with the way American law and culture addresses – and mostly fails to address – sex and children. From the unsurprising indictment of sex-ed to the discussions of the misogyny and powerlessness perpetuated by statutory rape laws, it’s
Feb 22, 2009 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Angela by: Jessika of feminist book group fame
Shelves: sd-fem-bookclub
Harmful to Minors is a unique book advocating a different approach to sex education and children's sexuality. The work is well-researched and I agree with many of the author's theses, though it doesn't attempt or pretend to be unbiased. Levine braves some very controversial waters by asserting that children should be, for the most part, left alone to explore their sexualities and that traumatizing children about sex and intruding on their privacy is ultimately harmful. She makes a convincing cas ...more
Jul 18, 2007 Torie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If anyone doesn't quite see how the ultra-conservative Christian Fundamentalist agenda is and has been effecting the most intimate decisions we make, including how we raise children, this book will break much of it down for you. It took me a little while to process some of the things that Levine was arguing, because it goes against so much of what I was raised with, and you'll see what I mean if you read the book. Once I situated what she was writing within the right frame of mind, I found mysel ...more
Lauren Deland
Jun 01, 2008 Lauren Deland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find myself constantly returning to this excellent indictment of the ways in which American culture psychically terrorizes its youth in its misbegotten efforts to protect children from sexual knowledge. Judith Levine is bold, brave, and right on- an excellent antidote for what passes for sex education these days. Read it!
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed reading this book and it led me to question and/or rethink many of my assumptions regarding children/youth and sex. Some important and interesting points:
- As a therapist, I found the "therapy" chapter really interesting. I had some disagreements (see below) but found it refreshing to hear someone challenging some sacred cows of the therapy field.
- It can be really damaging when we pathologize children's normative sexual behavior as abuse, molestation, or trauma react
Jan 05, 2013 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm very glad to see a book of this kind out on the market. I've thought for most of my adolescent (and now young adult) years that adults were just silly when it comes to sex and children. A lot of the research presented in this book backs that up. We can often do more harm to our children trying to protect them from sex and sexuality than we do them good.

I think this book is the kind of thing every parent needs to be exposed to before having a child so that they can make informed and healthy
Adrian Colesberry
Brilliant and brave analysis of the incompetent and harmful efforts made to protect children and youth in this country from "harmful sexuality." In an age where nothing gains political capital like an effort to track and punish child molesters, Levine asks the tough questions such as, "Who exactly are these child molesters?" The answers will shock: Some of the so-called child molesters on the maps that parents scrutinize in paralyzed fear are flashers or a guy who got into an ill-advised relatio ...more
A brilliant attack on right-wing (and left-wing) prudishness, abstinence education, and the evil homegrown American Nazi types who invented the myth of "child porn." However, in this book--published a few years ago, when the Internet may have seemed to hold more promise for creating a freer society than it does now--Levine tends to overrate the Web's potential ability to help youths become more sexually aware. By now, our native agents of repression have found ways to use THAT to ruin innocent p ...more
João Martins
Sep 22, 2015 João Martins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Should be absolutely mandatory reading. It questions so very many of the assumptions that we have about sexuality and how it pertains to children.

You don't necessarily need to be convinced by some of the arguments, but they will (or should!) at the very least provide a lot of food for thought. I found myself being horrified at certain claims, only to later come around to the author's way of thinking by reflecting in the abstract and on some pretty relevant personal experiences.

It's one of those
We live in a society where fear and ideology are the basis for many of the decisions made regarding children and sexuality, from the ever present panic about sexual abuse to the prevalence of abstinence only education despite the predominance of evidence that it does not work. This is underlying message Judith Levine describes in Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex, a thought-provoking and intense work chronicling how we got to the place we are today and how these attit ...more
Dec 24, 2010 Ilya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This country is obsessed with children and sex. A great deal of effort is expended on censorship in the name of making sexually explicit material inaccessible to children, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that children are harmed in any way after viewing it. I once made a presentation in the elementary school where my wife's son went; I wanted to point the browser on the classroom computer at my homepage, but I couldn't: as far as the school was concerned, the entire Internet except f ...more
The overarching message of this book is not merely important to the adolescent development but imperative. Simply put, we must provide teens and preteens with better sexual education. Chapter after chapter, Levine details sad stories of children having to face real physical and emotional consequences due to their sexual ignorance. Instead of conveniently pointing the finger at one source (say, the saturation of the media's portrayal and framing of sexual images and sexuality in ONLY hetero-norma ...more
Feb 15, 2013 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents, Educators, Secularists, Progressives, Liberals
One of, if not the, best non-fiction books I've read in years. Judith Levine's Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex is challenging, well researched and based in science and study.

If you have children, consider yourself sex positive or progressive, you need to read this book.

I consider myself both and found myself facing issues and facts that I had not previously considered, but am glad she did. Beyond fear, hysteria, repression, negativity and censorship, you find yourse
molly gray
Nov 30, 2014 molly gray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a compelling discussion of the ways that we censor and punish young people's sexualities. of the ways that our cultural discomfort in approaching sex education has allowed for our children to be robbed of honest, comprehensive sex ed. levine asserts that NO ONE is teaching comprehensive sex ed in that none of us are pro-sex for young people. she chronicles policy making and how liberals have been losing this fight, simply by submission, since the 70's. she calls us to task and i found her to cha ...more
Aug 07, 2007 elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenagers, rhetoric students, ballsy publishers
I taught this book to college freshman, not realizing that it had the added boon of sneaking in some of the sex education that abstinence-only classes had denied them (so, um, do be prepared to answer questions that are about more than the rhetoric). The writing is clear, and her case for our misplaced fears of strangers lurking with candy is quite compelling, although I do think she down plays risk from family members. The fact that Americans are so afraid of pleasure that her publisher got sca ...more
Mar 12, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hey, guess what, teenagers have sex because it feels good and because it's a way to experience love and closeness with another person, ie, for the same reason adults do. While we have a duty to protect minors from unwanted sex, incest, and being molested, our moral hysteria is not actually helping anyone. This was a controversial book that got Levine called very bad names by the religious right - the same people who brought you abstinence-only education, Prop 8, etc. A fig in their eye and a pox ...more
Jul 20, 2010 Herb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just re-read this about five years after first buying and reading it. Levine lays out her work in two halves -- the first laying out (and debunking) the anti-sex hysteria of contemporary America, and the second offering a considered sex-positive vision for kids and young adults. She's not afraid of the P-word -- pleasure.

Five stars for a thorough and serious (and heavily footnoted) look at a difficult and important phenomenon. Four stars for still falling prey to some stereotypes about teens.
Still halfway through this, after two years. Which is not to say it's not excellent. I am totally on board with Levine's pragmatism and general take on the subject, and she writes well. But you know how sometimes reading something you agree with is very fascinating and invigorating and sometimes it's just, yeah, duh? I'm getting the latter, I guess, because I keep putting it down and not picking it up again. Still, this is stuff I think about a lot and she's really laid in out comprehensively an ...more
Lisa Jahn
Apr 15, 2009 Lisa Jahn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Levine critiques societal norms and laws concerning minors and sexual relationships.
Using historical and legal data she presents a strong argument in
favor of reforming laws and norms that supposedly protect children from harm.
She covers a range of topics from the effects of abstinence only education and why this form of education does not provide minors with the tools to make informed choices to statutory rape laws
that are in serious need of reform.
Overall it is a great read, just be open mi
Aug 06, 2011 Maijabeep rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lefty-parents, sex educators, anyone who works with children
Shelves: parenting

The first half of this book is an excellent deconstruction of the 'abstinence only' program of sexual education and how farcical and damaging it is. This was, of course, preaching to my own personal choir. I found the second half the truly brilliant part - where Levine lays out what a truly progressive sexual education for children would be. I adored the focus on community and communal participation - as well as the emphasis on both romantic and physical want, for boys and girls both. Wonderful
Jul 31, 2012 Anthoferjea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the stuff in here is kinda boilerplate unreflective liberalism (esp. the stuff about gender and androgyny) but overall it's a scorching and in my anecdotal experience totally justified attack on the way that children in America are made to fear their own bodies and their sexuality and love the conformity and violence that is basically fucking us over all the time.
Not particularly useful for teachers looking for tips on how to talk about sexuality with older teenagers without getting fir
Jul 01, 2011 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents of teenagers
Recommended to Kristin by: Laura
Shelves: psychology
An uncomfortable review for me to write, because the book is about kids' sexuality. But that's just the author's point: Levine sets out to neutralize harmful cultural assumptions about children and sex. Some of her arguments swung a bit too liberal for me; of course, I am a confirmed fence-sitter. All in all, a well-thought out book that provides a much-needed different perspective on the topic.
I really like the first half of this book. Levine challenges all our Puritanican notions about protecting children from sex. She forces us to ask "What IS the harm to minors?" when it comes to sex. We think we just instinctively know what kids should and shouldn't know, see, or do but where do these ideas come from? (Hint: The Christian Right.)

To me, the most interesting theme that runs throughout this book is agency. At what point does a child have control and say so over his or her own body a
Apr 05, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health, sexuality
Very thought provoking. Sees sexuality as a continuum from birth through sexual maturity. And tells us to light up when young children explore their physical feelings and body parts. Points out that true pedophilia is very rare, and most criminal cases involve a teenager and a young adult. She implies that if a young person's first lover is 10 years older that's not necessarily a bad thing (boy, girl, gay or straight). I don't think a man could write a book like this without being accused of all ...more
Cat Noe
The low rating is not for the content or points made in this book; it's because I was, frankly, bored half to death in the reading. It's a little on the alarmist side for an anti-hysteria book, and despite the wealth of relevant scientific data available on the topic, this seems to focus almost entirely on the problems (and anecdotes) specific to American culture. That's fair, I guess. All the same, I'm finding Ellis to have a much more balanced and open-minded approach to the subject. Plus, he ...more
Saw this book referenced as an interesting read on some feminist site but wow did it freak me out. I don't know, I don't think there's a not-creepy way to argue that children should be allowed to more freely express themselves sexually.
Definitely has some controversial ideas in it, but if you take the time to actually read the book, things become a lot more clear. Whether you agree with her or not, she does a good job arguing her position.
Yasmin Wahid
Feb 16, 2015 Yasmin Wahid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eye opening! Such a great book!
May 15, 2012 Rini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I saw this book in my university's library and skimmed through it, needing something to read on the bus that day. I took it home and could not put it down for the next 14 hours. It's an interesting exploration of many issues that a lot of people find too shocking or improper to talk about. I commend the author for not only daring to approach this subject but also for doing it with such a compassionate and educated stance.
Lisa Lepore
Mar 09, 2008 Lisa Lepore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The discussion of abortion in the US, Levine writes, has resulted in "resurrected 'jailbait' laws [that are often used to target gay men]." Levine complains that "the political center has shifted so far rightward and the symbolic time frame so far backward that even mainstream organizations are adopting anachronism and calling it innovation."
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