Over the last decade, children under 12 have become increasingly hyper-sexualized through dance at younger and younger ages. Over 100 global reports have revealed the negative effects sexualized messages are having on the healthy development of children. Instead of age appropriate choreography, young children are being given movement that exploits and sexualizes them with erotic moves, adult costumes, and mature, sexually-charged songs. The APA report on the sexualization of girls (apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx) says that the effects on children are unhealthy and damaging. Concerned adults and dance educators are on the front lines of this important issue and need to nurture and communicate appropriate standards for dance artistry and education rather than hyper-sexualization.
Mary Margaret Bawden received a BA in modern dance from UCRiverside, a MA in worship (emphasis in dance) from Hope International University in Fullerton, CA, and a California secondary teaching credential. She released a book in 2016 on faith-based dance, titled “Dance is Prayer in Motion: Soul to Sole Choreography for Christian Dance Ministry,” and has led a dance ministry at her church for over 20 years. Recently, Mary has noticed that the culture around children’s dance has moved towards an unhealthy trend – the sexualization of children under 12 in dance choreography, costumes, and music. That focus translates into a desire to advocate for healthy, age-appropriate guidelines to protect children and to create materials for informed adults who care about protecting children in the current culture. That has led her to found DA:NCE(Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited) alongside Soul to Sole Choreography.
Mary has spoken at the 2018 CDEA (California Dance Educator’s Organization) and 2018 CAHPERD (California Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance) Conferences, as well as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation Conference in 2016. In addition to dance venues, she welcomes invitations to speak on the DA:NCE topic from other organizations that are concerned about protecting children from sexual exploitation.
This presentation was given at the 2019 Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summit. endexploitationsummit.com/