Cover photo from the Dr. Phil show
The following post was originally posted in The Guardian by Nancy Jo Sales. It has been edited for language and length.

 

Danielle Bregoli, the “cash me ousside” girl from Dr. Phil’s infamous episode, titled, What May Be Driving A 13-Year-Old’s “Out-Of-Control Behavior, appeared on Instagram Live on Sunday, posing for her iPhone camera. She pursed her lips and flicked her tongue, gazing steadily at her viewers, who encouraged her to expose herself or dance provocatively.

“Cleavage,” someone commented, referring to the image of Bregoli’s low-cut tank top. “We need a threesome,” another commenter remarked. “Is this [a porn site]?” someone asked. Bregoli, who is 13, has shot to fame on a normalizing wave of the sexualization of children online. She represents a disturbing new trend: an underage girl who is treated like a porn star on social media.

A 13-Year-Old With Porn Star Status?

“Cash me ousside, how bow dah?”, Bregoli’s catchy catch-phrase, arose out of her appearance last September on The Dr Phil Show. “Out-of-control teens” are a Dr. Phil convention, and Bregoli was billed as a doozy, a “car-stealing, knife-wielding, twerking 13-year-old,” pictured having physical altercations with mother, Barbara Ann Peskowitz. When audience members laughed at the girl’s blackfaced bravado (her white-girl rendition of being “from the streets” has sparked a number of outraged think pieces), she challenged them to take it outside. An Internet meme was born, and a social media career for a Boynton Beach, Florida, girl from modest circumstances.

RelatedGrowing Up Fast: Why 12-Year-Old Girls Are Having Sex Rougher, Earlier

Bregoli now has more than eight million followers on Instagram, and reportedly she has a reality show in the works, and her mother has hired a manager. But what accounts for Bregoli’s soaring appeal, in contrast to the countless other “out-of-control teens” Dr. Phil has brought on television to admonish over the years?

The answer becomes clear in a YouTube video posted in February which has gotten over three million views. It shows Bregoli lying on a bed, wearing provocative clothing and suggestively showing off her body to the camera.

Some of the unprintable comments on this video gleefully celebrate pedophilia. Some of the commenters react to this in disgust, while others justify enjoying the 13-year-old Bregoli’s sexualized display: “See, I’m 14, so like I have no pedophile problem in here, I can smash,” or have sex. “Waiting for the sex tape,” someone observes.

If this isn’t pornified culture, we don’t know what is.

A Culture With No Problem Sexualizing Tweens

Unfortunately Bregoli is no outlier when it comes to social media culture. Being hot is a #goal, sometimes for very young girls. Her videos and selfies may tend toward the extreme on the spectrum, but are similar in kind to those that exist all over the Internet.

Such postings are sometimes solicited by predators, such as the Australian man who was arrested this month for allegedly obtaining explicit images of children by posing as the singer Justin Bieber, using mainstream platforms such as Facebook and Skype. And sometimes such images are freely self-generated as a way to get attention, because being sexually provocative is often what is rewarded on social media.

RelatedTeen: Why Is This Disturbing Category Of Porn So Popular?

“If you post a picture winning the math award, people will laugh at you, but if you post a picture in a bikini you’ll get like a hundred likes,” a girl I spoke to in Los Angeles summed it up. And social media is all about the likes, and the number of views and followers – followers girls often don’t even know.

And we live in a world where many girls look up to Kim Kardashian as a role model in the digital age. She’s a successful businesswomen, the argument goes – look how rich and famous her sex tape and nude selfies have made her, and look how many Instagram followers she has (over 95 million). And now girls can develop FOMO over the life of the 13-year-old Cash Me Ousside Girl.

Growing Acceptance Of Child Exploitation

Meanwhile, sexualization hurts girls. The landmark 2007 American Psychological Association report on the sexualization of girls draws connections between sexualization and a host of problems, from anxiety to depression to eating disorders to low self-esteem. Not to mention the fact that sexualized posts by children often border on child porn, and there is a problem with the proliferation of child porn all over the world.

What should be done about children posting sexualized photos and videos of themselves? What is the responsibility of social media companies? And how should the law respond? Until society catches up with this new technology, parents are the first line of defense. It’s time for parents everywhere to take control of their out-of-control teens, for their own well-being and protection.

Nancy Jo Sales is author of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers.

The pornification of society has caused us to accept the sexualization of tweens and teens as casual entertainment. Not cool.

The fact is, since 2012, a wildly popular search term on a porn site that got 23 billion visits in 2016 is TEEN.

This means there is a massive porn genre dedicated entirely to girls who look (and may very well be for all anyone knows) younger than 18 years old, which is illegal for being below the age of consent for sex. How is this okay?

Now, if millions of people across the globe are constantly searching and viewing porn involving and depicting teens, what do you think that is doing to their sexual tastes and expectations? Is it fair to assume that this massive viewing and demand for the “teen” genre is making the porn viewer think that sex with teens is okay? Or that the younger the girl looks, the easier it is to have sex with her because of her naiveté? It seems as though Bregoli’s popularity and rising fame can be contributed to our society’s apparent obsession with sexualized teens, even if they aren’t old enough to be in high school.

Fight the New Drug is all about pro-love and pro-healthy sexuality. That is why we are anti-porn. Porn is full of ideals and beliefs that are completely opposite of what real relationships, real sex, and real love are like. Our growing porn culture has caused this rising generation to see that when they “act” sexy, they get attention, even if they’re just 13-years-old. And in response, the Internet might categorize them in the same status as a porn star, with no boundaries on what might be said to them and no limit to the sexual propositions they might get. Our generation is the first to deal with the issue of pornography to this intensity and scale. And, as we’ve seen with today’s society,  if we don’t take a stand, the problem is only going to get worse and worse. By being informed and understanding porn’s harmful effects, we can make a much needed change to our perceptions about what’s healthy and acceptable and what’s not.

What YOU Can Do

The pornification of our society is having an effect on the rising generation. SHARE this article to spread the facts on why porn is so harmful to the viewer and our culture.

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