Monday, 6 December 2010

Sexualisation of 'Children'

One of David Cameron's 'issues' was the apparent 'sexualisation of children' -padded bras and Playboy stationary and such like. Yes, one day your charming 7 year old Felicity might be playing with a playboy pencil and the next day she would be playing with a penis - her mind polluted by naff looking stationary products. A Playboy 2011 diary will turn you into a veritable slut.

I do think we need to get a grip of ourselves (as you can hear a minister saying without irony). Well today the LibDem minister, the plucky Sarah Tether, has launched a review of the 'commercialisation and sexualisation of children'. She's the Children's Minister but thanks to a post-election Whitehall re-structure she sits in the Department of Education (which seems a bit odd to me but what do I know).

For all my gentle mockery, I do think there are some issues that need exploring but I think it needs to be done on a rational measured basis rather than asking a load of ranty yummy mummies off certain well-known websites. The review is going to look at the following areas:

* risks of harm and barriers to parenting
* principles – what is acceptable in this area and what is not
* consumer voice
* corporate social responsibility.

Interestingly for a Tory led coalition, the review is based on the notion that the market has failed - and that state intervention is needed in order to influence the development of gender and sexuality, with tether quoted in the press release as saying:

"We’ve all read the headlines about high-street shops selling inappropriate products for children and many of us are worried about some of the marketing practices that are being used specifically to target children. By reviewing commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood we want to better understand not only how we can help parents resist these things, but also how we encourage all businesses to take their responsibilities as seriously as the best ones already do."

I'm really curious to see if the report will result in legal change. The BBC reports on the story here (overseas readers might not be able to see the video).

The terms of the review and a written ministerial statement can both be viewed here.

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Anonymous said...

This story sounds like scaremongering pure and simple. Kids naturally "sexualize" as they go through puberty. It is the responsibility of parents to put it all into context.

I hate terms like "abuse" and "harm" being bandied around. HOW is a child harmed by a padded bra? Conversely how is a kids self-esteem affected by not feeling as "womanly" as her peers?

I think I read the argument that kids wearing sexualised garments "normalises" it, and makes it acceptable to project adult actions onto them. This seems no different to adult women wearing burkas because men **may** have impure thoughts about them AND act upon them.

The only people sexualising kids are those people screaming about it.

Shouldn't we be more concerned with the "junk-food-isation" of kids; should we ban fast food t-shirts? Or concerned with the violence in Tom and Jerry; doesn't that normalise violence?

The answer to all these is that parental contextualisation is the key, and if parents are too embarrassed to discuss sex with their kids, banning it, is not the solution.

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