I never really understood the big controversy about Sponge Bob Square Pants, and thought that everyone was just making too big of a fuss out of nothing.
Then one day when my son was three, one of the Sponge Bob episodes featured a PANTY RAID, and I was completely furious. It was then when we quit watching Sponge Bob and I got a little taste of why Sponge Bob is harmful to kids…and that the controversy is valid. So, when my 6 year old kindergarten niece brought home a Sponge Bob book that she bought through a Scholastic book fair, I was disappointed that our school system is allowing a kindergartner to spend money on a character that has Panty Raids on television (let me remind you that I live in a location that is regularly on the “Top Places to Live” list in numerous publications, so I expect more from our school). But I was even more shocked when my son started attending a preschool…a well-respected Christian preschool. They sent home a book catalog which featured Sponge Bob in it! My first thought was wow…my son’s church based Christian preschool is marketing Sponge Bob and his panty raids to little children too!
And then I considered moving him to another Christian preschool, but guess what…they raise money using the same book fair company too! Sponge Bob and his inappropriate content has found his way into our churches and schools and we don’t raise an eyebrow!
A panty raid is just the beginning. Sponge Bob’s inappropriateness goes far beyond the panty raid episode and we aren’t even aware that the content of this cartoon is undermining our Christian values as parents. Think about it…a panty raid is an obvious and understandable term so it’s clear to anyone that that particular episode isn’t appropriate. But many of the Sponge Bob episodes are filled with subtle inappropriate suggestions and themes that are not as obvious as a panty raid. For instance, in one episode a French character is named “The Tickler”. Hence, the French Tickler…which is a particular style of condom. Introducing this type of inappropriate terminology and concepts to children early lays the foundation for having no boundaries and no concept of “red flags”. When an inappropriate behavior or word is familiar and acceptable to a child, then it’s hard for them to be aware when adults or peers cross boundaries or are acting inappropriately. It’s easier for our kids to get into bad situations if they don’t have any sense that something is out of place. I think Sponge Bob definitely breaks down boundaries and blurs the lines of inappropriate behavior for children. I feel stupid for being so blind to this guy. My first clue that he was a bad influence should have been that he regularly appears in episodes exposing his underwear. I didn’t raise an eyebrow to that because he is a cartoon…yet, I don’t let my son watch movies with men parading around in their underwear! Just because it’s coming from a cartoon character doesn’t make it okay.
If you aren’t familiar with sexual references and terminology, then you don’t know the foundation that this cartoon is laying for your child’s boundaries and comprehension of how the world works. Even if your kids don’t fully understand the negative meaning behind words and themes, they are definitely becoming familiar with those words and themes. I know there are a probably a dozen other characters and cartoons that are inappropriate for children, but I’m focusing on Sponge Bob simply because he is the character who introduced the concept of a panty raid to my 3-year old child. He is the cartoon I stupidly allowed into my home.
If Sponge Bob was a living, breathing adult talking to my child about a panty raid or french tickler, I would contact the police and he would never be allowed in my home again. Yet, my Christian preschool and public schools all across the nation are sending this guy home with our kids. Why are we parents letting this happen?
Schools and preschools gain valuable dollars from book fairs….they are a fantastic way to help children develop a love of reading. But schools have a choice about which book publishing company they choose to use for raising money with book fairs. All books are not written equally!! Some books have the purpose of educating children, while other books are simply considered educational because they have words. I didn’t realize there was a difference with the quality of books until I started selling Usborne books…I don’t sell them anymore, but Usborne gave me a great understanding that schools and preschools DO HAVE A CHOICE about which book company they use. I’m sure there are more quality book companies out there, but I’m simply using Usborn as an example because I’m familiar with them and know that their company values will NEVER condone selling trashy characters like Sponge Bob to kids. Please do your own research about why Sponge Bob is harmful to our children…and if your school uses a book fair company that markets Sponge Bob, please bring this to the attention of the school so they can make it stop. Feel free to share this post link with them. Schools have a choice and parents have the voice. Let’s protect our children!