Harmful to Minors

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Harmful to Minors (ISBN 0-8166-4006-8 [hardcover], ISBN 1-56025-516-1 [paperback]) is a book written by Judith Levine which proposes that laws, programs and terminology aimed at "protecting children" from sex cause more damage than they prevent. The book cites a wide array of research in medical, psychological, historical, and criminological fields, along with many interviews to support its conclusions. Due to the contents going against the Status Quo, Levine found it difficult to obtain a publisher, and once she had, the book met with much controversy and requests for it to be banned and removed from libraries.

Included in the book are heavy criticisms of laws concerning child pornography, statutory rape, abortion for minors, and abstinence-only sex education. In particular, it even cites several examples of English churches from around the 70's promoting or hosting sex education for children including graphical videos or presentations.

The book also examines the terms "harmful to minors" and "indecency," which Levine considers to be umbrella terms for censorship, as well as the Dylan V. Heather case, and the little-known SPARK Support Program for Abusive Reactive Kids and STEP Sexual Treatment Education Program and Services, both of which she claims do far more harm than the child sex offenders did themselves.

The foreword was written by then-former United States Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. Elders had resigned from her position after meeting great criticism from suggesting that masturbation be promoted as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity.

Harmful won the 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Current Interest. Conservatives such as Joe Scarborough and Robert Knight accused Levine of promoting pedophilia for her suggestion that the US adopt statutory rape laws similar to those in the Netherlands.

In 2003, Thunder's Mouth Press released a trade paperback edition of the book, which includes a new afterword by Levine chronicling the public response to the book.