What is all the fuss about?!?!

Ok, so by now I’m sure everyone in Central Florida has read the story out of Leesburg about the little boys at a day camp who were caught being curious about things that little boys are supposed to be curious about.

Let me say first off — I do NOT personally know any of the parties involved and I do NOT know the facts of the case beyond what is printed in the article (and I’m not sure anyone can say for SURE if those are the facts .. except the participants). So this is not a commentary on the particulars of the case as much as it is about the hysteria that is being put forth by the media.

And, being a mother of two, and also being a former child myself, I can’t help but ask why this is even making headlines?!?!

Are you seriously going to tell me that this is something that needs to be in the public spotlight? This isn’t a felonious adult preying on children that we need to alert people to. This isn’t even an older child who is involved in this. These are young, innocent little boys who have no idea that an entire community is now discussing what is being called “sex acts”.

Sex acts?!?!?! Are you kididng me? Now… if the facts come out later and this is way more than it seems on the surface, I’ll be the first to make my retraction. But… if this is just a simple case of little boys being curious and playing a little Doctor… then why oh why is this being paraded about in the media?!?

I’m not sure everyone has played Doctor as a child, but I’m pretty sure more people did than did not! And all I have to ask is would YOU have wanted your little Doctor experience blasted everywhere? And we’re not just talking in print today, lining a bird cage tomorrow. The internet makes things stick around for a LONG time afterward people.

What about a little bit of responsibility in the media? Hmm? I mean do we REALLY need to know this information? Where is the journalistic integrity on this? Since when does a subject like this honestly need to be told? How do I, as a mother of a seven year old, benefit from knowing this? I’m supposed to be shocked about young children playing “show me yours and I’ll show you mine”?!?!?

Or is this just pure and simple sensationalizing. Slow news day. Hey… two kids were caught under some bleachers.. let’s run it! C’mon Sentinel, have some integrity here and leave family stuff for the families to deal with. NO ONE benefits from this! There wasn’t perpetrator, there isn’t a crime… give it a rest.

“Sex acts” to describe two six year olds. Makes me sick to my stomach. My boy is 7 and he no more knows what sex is than the parakeets in his bedroom. Those boys were just doing what felt instinctual.

Next week they’ll be an article on the mating habits of rabbits and it’ll be entitled RABBITS ARE NYMPHOS!!

3 Comments so far

  1. John A. Cutter/Senior Editor/Online News (unregistered) on July 13th, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

    Dawn, Not sure I can answer all your comments, since I wasn’t involved in the decision to follow the story (which was first reported on one of the TV stations, I’m told). I will say I would like to know if others agree (or disagree) with you, since I think these are good discussions to have.

    One comment I will make is about the sensationalizing part, since I take that to mean (though that might not be what you mean) that you think we at the Sentinal embellished the story in some way or overplayed it substantially. The article was published on the middle of the front of our Lake regional section, on the bottom of Page B3 in the Local/State section and on our home page, which is my area. (It was our most viewed story online yesterday, accounting for 7 percent of our page views. Not sure what that says about the story’s newsworthiness, since it only counts people clicking on a headline that might sound more serious than the story is.) None of those places seem to be overplaying the story, unless, as you say, it is something not newsworthy.

    And the facts were presented pretty straightforwardly, although I think the word “sex act” — which we use instead of a more precise description of what happened — adds to the problem with people trying to understand if this was just playing doctor or more extreme behavior.

    As the parent of a 6-year-old (not as the journalist who works here), I did want to read this. I did not see it as apparently innocent as you did, and it makes me wonder what messages some children pick up from (perhaps) the media — and what my daughter might be seeing on a camp playground. (Like you, I don’t know the people involved, and my daughter is not in that camp.)

    I’ll link to this from my Orlando Crime blog, in case people want to weigh in on our decision to publish.

    John Cutter, Senior Editor/OrlandoSentinel.com

  2. Dawn (unregistered) on July 13th, 2006 @ 12:58 pm

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your comment. I took think these are good discussions to have and I hesitated even posting about it becuase I was sure I’d have people who disagreed vehemently with me, and yet, isn’t that what makes the blogosphere valuable? I have read what you have to say and respect your opinions. I don’t agree necessarily and I wanted to clarify a few things if I may.

    I never said or meant that the Sentinel embellished the details. In fact, I went out of my way to say that only the participants really know the details and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions and in the end we could be grossly mistaken about the events – in either extreme.

    However, here is where I DO believe the Sentinel sensationalized this. This was story about two or three VERY young children. Children barely old enough to attend school. Children barely able enough to know what the meaning of time, money and days of the week are. Conceptually, they are mere babies.

    And I understand the parent’s concern about the well being of their children overall at a camp that obviously didn’t even realize several children were sneaking off, multiple times, unsupervised and without it coming to the attention of the counselors, administrators or workers at the day camp. As a parent, I would have been FAR more concerned about that, than the fact they played a game of peep show.

    So if the parents are understandably upset and they want it known that this has occured at the camp, I can understand why the Sentinel and the news stations on TV ran a story about it. Clearly in this day and age, with more and more families having both parents working or single parents raising children… there are more day care facilities, camps, after school programs than ever. And they have a huge responsibility to take care of our children.

    But to make the headline of this story SEX AT CAMP WITH SIX YEAR OLDS (and I apologize, but I don’t remember the exact title) and make that eye catching, heart stopping, parent nightmare of a headline be the way you get readers to read the story — that’s where I cry foul and say that this is truly a sensationalization of the situation and think it’s personally and professionally deplorable.

    I think to use the words “Sex Acts” to describe what they did, even if it was EXTREME behavior, is not only gross and unnecessary, but it is appalling. Who says that we, as a community, need to know the all details?!?

    But as you pointed out, that story got major attention yesteray and accounted for 7% of your page views. Here’s my question though — what if you had put WHOSE WATCHING YOUR CHILDREN? or DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE? or LOCAL CAMP ACCUSED OF LOSING TRACK OF CHILDREN…. would you have had the same 7%?

    Forget the percentages, isn’t that a more responsible and reasonable headline that’s just as catchy? Oh I know SEX is catchy. But that’s my point. We shouldn’t use sex everytime there’s an angle.

    I have a daughter too John, altough a bit older than my son. I have them in camps on and off all summer. I don’t mind telling you that I’m always on the watch for anything or anybody that can hurt my children. But I don’t honestly believe that another 6 or 7 year old boy is going to really perform sex acts on my son. They might do something they shouldn’t… they might take things too far. But to describe two young children being curious as sexual is just appalling to me.

    With all of the news stories about sexual predators, all of the Dateline sting operations (heck, even Dr. Phil got in on the act a few months back), I would submit that we, as a nation, are highly sensitized to this otherwise dark part of our society. But it would be a real shame if in the course of making sure that we as parents have the best tools possible to protect our children, make something out of nothing and stigmatize children who have been doing this for a millenia or more.

    Sexual curiousity isn’t bad. It’s how WE, as adults, handle it that is bad.

  3. eman2112 (unregistered) on July 16th, 2006 @ 10:39 am

    “Sexual curiousity isn’t bad. It’s how WE, as adults, handle it that is bad.”

    well said, sums it all up in one sentence.

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