Our goal: To bring awareness and education to adults in order to stop the hypersexualization of children in dance.
Meet our founder – Mary Bawden
Dance educator and author Mary Bawden received a BA in modern dance from UCRiverside, a MA in worship (emphasis in dance) from Hope International University in Fullerton CA, and a California secondary teaching credential. She also led the dance ministry at her church for over 20 years (starting Soul to Sole Choreography in 2003), and wrote a book focusing on an educational approach to church dance ministry (Dance is Prayer in Motion). Recently, Mary has noticed that the culture around children’s dance has moved towards an unhealthy trend – the sexualization of children under 12 in adult costumes, choreography, and music. That observation translates into a desire to advocate for healthy, age-appropriate guidelines to protect children and the art of dance. In 2016, she founded DA:NCE (Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited) to create free educational materials for dance educators, parents, and concerned adults.
She has spoken at numerous conferences from NDEO (National Dance Educator’s Organization) to CESE(Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation) Summits in Washington DC. Mary has also been interviewed and written for a wide range of TV, podcast, and radio hosts. In 2019 one article she wrote received over 250,000 hits ( https://counterculturemom.com/the-scary-trend-in-childrens-dance/ ). Her organization offers many researched resources on the hypersexualization of children in dance including short trailers, videos with national experts, downloadable powerpoints, an ebook on ‘Healthy versus Harmful dance, a National NCOSE (National Center on Sexual Exploitation) Petition, and a DA:NCE newsletter.
Why is this such an important issue?
Children are becoming increasingly sexualized through dance at younger and younger ages. Studios, dance teachers, and even parents often unknowingly model their movement choices on what they see in the media culture. In many dance classes across the country, children are no longer taught healthy, age-appropriate dance. The ramifications of this are alarming: Recent research shows that most girls – as young as 6-years old – are beginning to think of themselves as sex objects. (Source)
A 2014 study found that children are starting the teenage years four years earlier than they used to. Meaning that girls aged 4 – 10 are engaging with teen culture and exhibiting hyper-sexualized behavior. (Source: Tiggemann, M. and Slater, A. (2014). Contemporary girlhood: maternal reports on sexualized behavior and appearance concern in 4-10 year-old girls. Elsevier: Body Image, 11(4), pp 396-403.)
Girls’ sexual development is being hijacked. The culture invites them to imitate the porn-style dance moves of their favorite stars. Yet, they do not have the emotional sophistication to understand what they are seeing and doing. (Source)
The effects of the sexualization of girls in dance is widespread:
• Body Dysmorphia
• Eating Disorders
• Poor Academic Performance
• Teen Pregnancy
• Higher Risk of Abusive Relationships
• Higher Risk of Pornography Use
• Unable to Identify Sexual Abuse Mismanagement of Social Networking
• Promotes Rape Culture
• Promotes Objectification of Females
• Relationship Wounding due to Constant
(Source: American Psychological Association, Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx )