© ReutersAshely Benson
Ashley Benson, 23, knows what sells to America's 12-year-old girls: sex, including threesomes. Together with Seventeen magazine, the actress is promoting her new movie "Spring Breakers" on the magazine's cover, despite the fact that the movie is being hyped elsewhere for its steamy sex scene between Benson, actress Vanessa Hudgens, 24, and actor James Franco. The movie is rated R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence. Seventeen targets an audience of females, aged 12 to 19.

Comment: Interesting that the James Franco mentioned above recently premiered a documentary that some describe as torture porn. Exactly what message is Seventeen trying to send to it's readership?

There is a psychological sea change occurring in American culture, wherein girls shy of their teenage years are now exposed to erotic imagery and storylines, routinely.

The sexualization of children is a runaway train - and they are being brought aboard.

© Abercrombie Fitch
Just think about Abercrombie & Fitch marketing padded bikini tops to 8-year-olds and Vogue magazine's sexually provocative photo shoot with Thylane Blondeau, then just 10-years-old.

Consider that Hugh Heffner made an offer to then-15-year-old Miley Cyrus to pose naked in his magazine when she turned 18.

This is a predictable event in a culture being sterilized by technology and by the contention that gender roles are irrelevant: People find ways to remind themselves they are alive and passionate males and females. And if social forces attempt to neuter them, they will - with all the risk entailed - assert themselves sexually.

Comment: Gender roles are in part, what has gotten us into this mess. The idea that any individual has to identify with and/or express whatever the currently fashionable male or female role is in order to be deemed relevant in society seems to be one of several driving forces behind risky sexual behaviors. Children and young people often see these images which have been normalized by society and parrot them, ignoring their true selves, out of a need to fit in.

Additionally, what's often overlooked in this topic is that the people in favor of the sexualization of children - those responsible for allowing such imagery to exist in the first place - are often pathological and possibly even pedophiles. What other kind of person views children as sex objects?

Sex and violence are now one of the only ways humans seem able to evidence that they are human. And so, as Facebook takes away our real faces, as drones take away hand-to-hand combat, and email takes away handwritten notes, we see bloody, extreme MMA fighting replacing boxing, and Ashley Benson replacing Elizabeth Taylor.

Genital contact (along with brawling) is now America's reflex antidote to losing contact. And the antidote is being peddled indiscriminately to kids, who are being dragged right out of childhood by a vicious undertow of eroticism fueled by tides of primal fear that we are not really living life at all, nor are we male, nor are we female, nor need we be troubled (just take Prozac), nor need we be distracted (just take Adderall), nor need we be anxious or bored (just take medical marijuana), nor are we responsible for ourselves (just apply for government entitlements).

© Vogue Enfant de Décembre 2010Thylane Blondeau
The toll of using sex as a drug is, of course, the same as using any drug. You get high and temporarily avoid struggling to face what troubles you and pursue the dreams that motivate you and choose the values that will guide you.

The hard work of becoming a complete individual is put off, in favor of getting off. And one's value to society is minimized. This is why a culture that drugs people - especially children - with sex is a culture in decline.

In this American culture, celebrities like Benson and magazines like Seventeen are our drug pushers. They may not even know it or, worse, yet, they may not even care.