Sullying Childhood Innocence

Young Girl Blowing Bubbles
Giu Vicente, Unsplash

When our children were babies, my husband used to smell their feet. I would tease him about it but he said he needed to do it while he could because they were only sweet to smell for a short time. Once they started walking around in the world, they were dirty and stinky. No more sniffing their chubby little piggies. 

There is nothing like the soft, unblemished purity of a baby’s feet. They are feet that have never tread the roughness of concrete, trudged the mess of mud, or been bruised by an encounter with a rock. They are innocent and sweet, and they are a thing of beauty — much like the hearts and minds of our children. 

When babies enter this world, they come with unabashed innocence. They do not know the roughness, mess, or pain that comes as a part of living in an imperfect world with imperfect people. For most, that innocence can last well into adolescence if allowed. Unfortunately, it is becoming harder as a parent to protect their innocence. 

There was a time when parents and schools partnered to build safeguards around the innocence and purity of children. That time seems to have passed. As I research the books that our public school libraries are making available to children, I can’t help but wonder what the motive is.

I am not referring to books that recount tales of trial and perseverance like Ruby Bridges or Frederick Douglass; I am talking about the sexually explicit books written and distributed for the sole purpose of tainting the young hearts and minds of the children who read them. My research has led me to some very troubling conclusions in regards to the authors and distributors of these. 

First, it seems that the authors have likely experienced sexually traumatic events in their lives and they are using our children as a means of “working through” their trauma. Young people have become captive audiences for adults to share their problems publicly. 

Second, they seemingly want to cultivate more people like them because “misery loves company.” If they can normalize what they experienced, it will somehow lessen its impact.

Anyone with any true understanding of children and childhood would do everything in their power to protect their innocence. That is not what these individuals are doing. In fact, they are asking them to tread on ground laced with damaging and destructive material that will forever destroy their innocence. These children will be changed by the roughness of the content and sullied by the mess of the language. Their vulnerable hearts will be bruised by what they encounter. 

I do not believe in banning books. I believe in protecting children. I believe in using discernment and discretion to determine what our children will encounter and when. If adults cannot protect the innocence of the next generation, then we are doomed as a society. Their tender hearts and minds deserve years of sweet, beautiful, and wonder-filled moments. Don’t rob them of that by asking them to carry a weight far too heavy for them. 

Beanie Geoghegan
Beanie Geoghegan is the Chapter Lead for No Left Turn in Education KY. She is a former teacher and reading interventionist and is the mother of four grown readers, writers, and independent thinkers.