Senate report on the sexualisation of children in the contemporary media

The full report can be found here (long).

Just the recommendations are here (brief).

I can’t think of anything in particular to add to Senator Bartlett’s summary, and totally agree that the best recommendation of the report is the one advocating “more comprehensive education programs on sexual health and relationships”.

Implementation of such comprehensive education would do more than just help address the way in which children are sexualised, it would also help people generally be more rational in weighing up their options in pursuing sexual liasons and relationships, which should also improve matters such as STDs, unplanned pregnancies, and maybe even the separations and divorces that are due to the disappointment of unrealistic expectations.

His major points that aren’t being discussed enough in the overall debate:

  • The problem of the sexualisation of children is real and dangerous, but it wasn’t created by advertising/media, it’s a societal trend. Simply banning certain displays of children in advertising will not address the problem, it will merely make it less visible.
  • There are dangers to children in being overly restrictive as well as overly permissive.
  • Any “solution” for the problem of sexualised displays of children in the media that led to “prurience and secretiveness” about sexual matters would be a hugely retrograde step.


Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, health, media, relationships

Tags: , , , , ,

5 replies

  1. Sorry, I haven’t read the full report yet, my focus is elsewhere. Are these educational programmes going to be aimed at potential and actual sexualisers and exploiters as well, or purely at the victims?
    Is there attention to the possible implementation of industry guidelines and ethical codes as well as the attempts to teach children some useful skills in ignoring the onslaught of crap? Critical media interpretation and sexual education are obviously vitally important as defensive and life-education skills.
    However, the fact that that onslaught-o’-crap is part of a bigger problem doesn’t mean that no aspects of that problem should be tackled, or that the _entire_ burden of tackling it should be placed on the youngest, most vulnerable people involved. Feminism means constantly fighting perps and their enablers at every level, not just shrugging our shoulders and educating the victims.

  2. I want to write/clarify some more, here. I think it could be perfectly reasonable to say “there is no other _legislative_ solution to this at this time”. But I don’t think it’s right for feminists and allies to then collective shoulder-shrug and say “Well, ok, fair enough, nothing else that can be done”. The whole point of feminisms other that pure legal-reform feminisms is that we try to tackle broader societal issues in ways that don’t necessarily involve (or don’t only involve) the writing of new laws.
    Part of what a couple of Australian feminist bloggers have tried to do in the wake of the whole Henson mess is to step well away from the rights/censorship construction of the argument and look more deeply at what else is going on. I think it’s important to recognise and problematise the exclusive use of legalistic framing. The same could apply on this issue.

  3. Because the education programs are described as comprehensive I presume that they are targeted at entire school populations and aimed at giving kids the tools to both recognise the phenomenon and work against it both from a refusing to participate and self-protection point of view.
    There certainly is attention to industry guidelines and ethical codes. The recommendations are really very brief and easy to read. Perhaps I should have mentioned that at the link so that my brevity in focussing on those particular three points couldn’t be construed as implying that these other aspects weren’t considered.

  4. On a completely different track, there’s an interesting point. The education recommendation reads in full (emphasis is mine):
    “The committee recommends that state and territory governments, which have the responsibility for education, consider the introduction into all Australian schools of comprehensive sexual health and relationships education programs which are inclusive of both young people and parents, adopting a consistent national approach to the question.”
    I wonder if and how this will apply to religious schools who avoid the issue or push abstinence-only, and even to some homeschoolers who do the same? It’s about time someone pushed on that issue. I’ll be interested to see how that shakes out.

  5. This might be none of my business, but I believe this renders invisible the big corporations making the big bucks out the sexualiztion of children. And I for once would like someone, anyone, to hold them responsible for something they have done.
    Mary Tracy9s last blog post..Sex and the City, Pots And Kettles

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