Attorney General: Paragould studio’s ‘Pole4Kids’ program sexualizes children
JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Vixens Fitness in Paragould has pulled down its Facebook page, following push-back from the community regarding its future ‘Pole4Kids’ program.
The program was going to be a pole dancing class for mothers and their children to attend together, but many called out the program as “disgusting” and hyper-sexualizing children, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
She said as soon as the Attorney General’s office heard about the class, they immediately reached out to the owner to take the post down.
“This is the sexualization of children,” Rutledge said, referring to the post. “Any time we see something of that nature, we’re going to reach out and try to stop it.”
The description of the class on the studio’s website says the class would “help children develop strength” while “building body awareness.”
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and a cybercrimes agent reached out to the owner, Myranda Ogles, about the advertisement, claiming it would put the children in a sexual context.
“We received a response that said ‘I’m sorry I’m going to take it down immediately,’” Rutledge said. “We have to think about how this could hurt a child and make sure that we protect our most valuable asset in the state of Arkansas and that’s our children.”
Megan Brown, the co-founder of Hope Forward of Northeast Arkansas, a non-profit group devoted to fighting human trafficking, says any program that encourages children to pole dance puts them in potential harm’s way.
“It objectifies them,” Brown said. “And the hyper-sexualization is so closely related and intertwined with child exploitation and sex trafficking.”
Another concern from the community regarding the class is that the owner of the studio has a personal relationship with Eric Counts, who was arrested in January on charges of possessing child pornography.
However, police say there is no link between Vixens and Counts’ arrest in January, and Counts is not involved in the ownership of the fitness studio, either.
Ogles released a statement to Region 8 News Wednesday afternoon. In it, she says, “I have had the worst 24 hours of my life. Never have I been attacked and hated the way the people in this community have treated me.”
Ogles also said that the idea for the class wasn’t even hers, as a grandmother requested her granddaughter to be able to take private lessons, and other parents wanted their children to join them in the studio as well.
Ogles said that she has received several death threats among other harassments.
And even though Brown thinks the program would have been a bad idea, she stressed that all conversations need to be held respectfully, if any minds are to be potentially changed.
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