samedi 17 octobre 2009

Child Beauty Pageant

I. A new sort of exhibition:

Since the begining of the XX century, we are the witenesses of a new social phenomenon, called: Beauty child pageant.
It originated in 1921 by an Atlantic City Hotel owner, and its aim was to keep longer the tourists in the town. Since this time, Beauty pageant is become a major event in American Society.
Beauty child pageant is a new sort of exhibition where people can show their children, and theirs abilities. Most of the children are between 6 and 12 years old, but several times, some mother lied about the age of their children.
Child Beauty Pageant encompasses their sport skills, their music and dance skills, their self-confidence, their clothes (...), which skills are called by the jurors “the complete package”.
In general, the price to register is very expansive, for example, in the Universal Royalty, where there is the largest number of child beauty pageants, the price to register is around 550$, and if you want to have all of the options, you have to paid around 400$ more.
Without forgetting the clothes, the make up, dance and music lessons, you have to buy.
The jurors hold an election and chose one child, among the other children.
So we can see there is a real business around it.
The child is dressed like a queen, and wins a price, which can be an amount of money, or gifts.
Moreover, according to the Attorney General of the Department of Justice in California,“there is no law that prescribes how a pageant must be managed, the rules are set by each contest promoter."
The Pageant is a real show where the girl (it’s often girls who takes part in the show), is maked up, and dressed up. And if they are dressing like princesses, we are far away from the fairy tale. The reality of childhood is travestied:
The little girls look like Barbie doll, and the image of childhood is sullied. Behind this quest of Beauty, the child rights are flouting, because the girls don’t really have a normal childhood. They are plunged in adults’ worried, and fallen into a sexualisation process.
This exhibition shows a wrong image of the childhood, and shows how children are treated like trained monkey.
The parents learn to the children to hidden reality behind make up.
But at the same time, there are two sides :
From one side, Beauty Child Pageant is a great experience for the child where he can learn self confident, and get the competitive spirit, and on the other hand, people who think that it was a bad and a traumatizing experience.
And there is an another side, hidden behind the phoney setting of specks:
the sexual aspect of the Pageant. By showing a wrong picture of the childhood, where girls are looking like women, they sexualize them, even though they are six, or seven year’s old.
Thus, this word of specks has attracted sexual perverts. And we can’t be surprised.

"William Pinsof, a clinical psychologist and president of the Family Institute at Northwestern University said, "Being a little Barbie doll says your body has to be a certain way and your hair has to be a certain way. In girls particularly, this can unleash a whole complex of destructive self-experiences that can lead to eating disorders and all kinds of body distortions in terms of body image." Traveling, stress and competition are everyday aspects of an adult's life, an average day of an adult requires at least these three aspects to make it to lunch hour, but at the age of eight, stress about body ideals, modeling, and trophies should not come into existence. Since there are no set rules concerning promoters, organizers and participants, pageants are neglected by laws governing them. Organizers want to earn money and are not concerned with the need to protect their participants, and they don't. According to Phyllis Coleman, a professor of law at Nova Southeastern University, 3,000 pageants attract 250,000 children per year. According to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act, child abuse is defined as, "the physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child under circumstances which indicate the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened." (…) Levey concluded that mothers of lower-income and education, enter their children in pageants because they want their children to learn the proper skills necessary to move up the social scale. One stage mother said, "I want my child to be aware that there's going to be somebody better than her. It's a hard thing to learn, it was for me, and I want her to start early." (

II. JonBenet Ramsey’s case:

We can see in all of the American Press, the case of JonBenet Ramsey, who was one of the most famous beauty child pageant, in America. A lot of tributes and testimonies are available on internet. Moreover we can see that this case shocked the whole american audience, and made them aware of the dangers of child beauty pageants and how they promote sexuality.
Her name was Patricia, and she was six year’s old when she was murdered.
She lived in Boulder, Colorado, and she has been murderer the day after christmas.
It was the winter of 1996, and she was not even in the spring of her life.
First, she has been kidnapped, and her father found a ransom note which was demanding a lot of money for Patricia self return. Moreover, this amount was exactly the value of a bonus her father won earlier in that year.
But several days later, her little body has been found by her own father, in the Wine Cellar, covered with a white blanket. The autopsy showed that she has been strangulated, and even though there was no trace of sexual assault, Police was sure that it was the work of a pedophile.
Moreover, thanks to DNA testing, they knew that any relatives could be the murderer of the little Patricia.
They are still searching the murderer.

III. Several years after:

-in the Rocky Moutain News (2001) and Crime Magazine:

There is an article of the Rocky Moutains News, which has been published twelve years later, about the JohnBenet Ramsey’s case, where experts of pedophiles put forward the theory that child sexual predators keep on doing sexual crimes, and Leigh M. Baker seems to be optimistic and thinks that even if the murder has vanished into thin air, there’s hope to find him. The psychologist Leigh M. Baker, who wrote this article, is specialized in the treatment of traumatized individuals, like children, and their families. She wrote a book, called Protecting Your Children from Sexual Predators, where she described and analysed the behaviour of the sexual predator, and warned people about them.
And what’s more, Dr. Sherryll Kraizer, a Denver-based expert on child abuse, thinks sexual predators typically commit more than 200 sex assaults on children in their lifetime.
Contrary to them, the law professor James Cohen thinks that if he doesn’t be caught red-handed, they will not find him.
An as there are a lot of sexual predators who are listed in Police’s register, there is no hope to find this man in particular, because sexual predators follow the same pattern:
Indeed, as Leig M. Baker says, sexual predator can be easily fond because most of them know their victim, and we can find them when they are hunting down their prey.

In 2005, the US Department of Health and Human Services reported 83,600 case of child sexual abuse…

-CNN's article (2009):

We can see that even though the murder dated from 1996, there is a kind of great determination to find the girl’s murderer.

Since 1996 to 2009, we can notice that the Media keep on speaking about this “cold case”, and looking for answers.

First of all, the Police though that the relatives could be guilty of the murder, especially the father who moved the body, cleaning in this way what little proofs left in the house.

But the DNA tests proved that the DNA, found on the girl’s underwear, was the DNA of an unknown man.

After, they though that John Mark Karr( a teacher) was linked to the murder, and he was arrested and exonerated several times after.

Perhaps the case is used as an example of Police’s capacity of investigation, and showed the determination of Police to punish sexual predator.

After years of researching, the case of JohnBenet is still a mystery, and keeps on puzzling people.

We can see that Beauty Child Pageant is a new kind of business. If some people think it's a new kind of child exploitation, some other people and former pageants think it's a positive experience and say that this competition can allow the self-fulfilment of children.
In America, the Beauty Child Pageant seems to promote family values, or a new image of child perfection.
But the main problem of this new business is the lack of laws which could reduce child abuse, and increase the safety of children during the competition.

In my opinion, I don't think that dress up girls like women help to keep the safety of children from sexual predator.
We are always trying to protect the pure image of children, and the Beauty Child Pageant seems to destroy this image.

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