Guest blog, Trauma and #Rapemags by Jane Evans

Jan 6, 2014 by

The campaign for magazines and newspapers with explicit words and images relating to rape, incest, sexual violence and sexualisation of women and children is about one thing, protecting children. Few could, should or hopefully would disagree that we all have a moral responsibility not to bombard children with content which they find confusing, troubling and even traumatic. Why then are ‘family’ supermarkets ignoring and even heaping derision on requests to put such materials out of the direct eye line for our youngest most vulnerable members of society?

Cynically I assume it’s because that’s what marketing has dictated is the optimum level to catch everyone’s attention and make sales, therefore, profit for the retailer. Consider then the situation where a child who has experienced rape, sexual abuse, incest, domestic violence or other abuse catches sight of an image which re traumatises them? Or, it might be a parent or relative caring for them who has lived through it themselves or via their child’s abuse. What does it do to them and why should a supermarket or store ‘care’? For a start because as leading childhood trauma expert, Dr.  Bruce Perry (2003), tells us,

By the time a child reaches the age of eighteen, the probability that any child will have been touched directly by interpersonal or community violence is approximately one in four.

They should care about the well-being of their customers as triggering trauma can make someone very ill, leading to the need for medical intervention, or in the worst case suicide. Although it sounds a bit dramatic, in fact many people live with deep rooted trauma which they manage but it can easily be triggered and unlike anxiety in an average person this can make someone mentally and physically very unwell. Our body stores trauma in ways we do not fully understand yet via our senses so a glimpse of a picture or word can set of the fear/threat cycle in an adult or a child and if they have lived through or are living with abuse this will not last for the normal 45 minutes it does for most of us but for an extended period becoming increasingly unbearable.

Traumatised people often resort to alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs, self-harm and other numbing harmful behaviours to distract them from endless whirring thoughts, aching tense muscles, feelings of panic, inability to sleep or relax at all. If they then have to leave a store with children and get into a car and drive home and care for the children what might that lead too? Who wants responsibility for any outcomes which stem from something which could be so easily avoided simply by moving a few magazines or newspapers?

Whilst adults and children who have been traumatised by abuse are highly unlikely to be able to approach anyone to complain about the very publications which may cause them real harm, I have been wondering if eventually people will be able to litigate against organisations that blatantly leave publications in full view of children, despite the perils of this having been highlighted to them. What if the harm it is doing to them can be proved in a court of law and was entirely preventable, could it even be considered as a customer ‘mental health and safety’ issue? What if it can be linked to a child self-harming, suffering a severe relapse in terms of their mental health or a parent having an accident as their trauma had been triggered and they were not fully in control of their car, after all once the fear/threat cycle is activated it is a struggle to think and concentrate.

Maybe this sounds extreme and alarmist but as someone who has worked for 20 years with victims of all kinds of abuse I have seen how tenuously survivor’s mental well-being can be despite their very best efforts. As I said, for the sake of covering a few magazines and papers and a bit of shelf shuffling surely those who have survived the worst deserve that small consideration from organisations they depend upon for the basics in life?

References

Perry, B MD, Ph.D.  2003 Effects of traumatic events on children, Child Trauma Academy http://www.mentalhealthconnection.org/pdfs/perry-handout-effects-of-trauma.pdf

Jane Evans

Trauma Parenting Specialist

http://www.parentingposttrauma.co.uk/

 

 

 

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Complimentary Patient Porn

Dec 13, 2013 by

She said, “It’s nothing to do with me” as the complimentary patient porn on the TV played oral sex in the accident and emergency waiting room. When did porn become acceptable in hospitals? 2013?

My colleague, Jenni, took her daughter to hospital for an operation. During the worrying wait, she sat down in the hospital café owned and run by Costa. It happens to be Costa’s company policy to provide The Sun, containing a fresh pair of breasts, every day for the gazing male eye. The disappointing weariness of the battle to put sexual imagery in context occasionally requires a lighter approach. Jenni scribbled a bra onto the model and we tweeted away with yet another example of porn culture in the UK.

Following this, a supporter had contacted North Bristol NHS trust about providing boobs as news in a place where women can be having a mastectomy or breastfeeding tiny new mouths. Child Eyes were immensely surprised and delighted to hear that the Chief Executive took a brave stance and removed The Sun from the hospital. As we celebrated the news, we wondered if we were winning the battle after all and that every action counts to change a culture of ‘sex sells’ media being thrust into the public domain.

A couple of days later I was dropping off to sleep when my baby daughter woke crying. I dragged myself out of bed to discover her almost unable to breathe and coughing a bark. That dreaded parental fear groped at my mind and we rushed the little mite to casualty. She perked up and started to look at the books in a brightly painted children’s room. She picked a book up containing various characters in uniform, a policeman, a fireman and other men having careers and a female pop star and nurse, all white of course. I rolled my eyes at my partner and son and gently placed the book at the very bottom of the pile hoping that I had saved a few young heads from gender and racial stereotypes.

The Doctor came in to check my baby over and told us that she has Croup and that we do not need to worry – RELIEF. We gathered our things together and left through the main waiting area.

Directly in front of us was a wide screen TV which we all were drawn to and in disbelief viewed full sex and oral sex. We passed by and as we left through the automatic doors, I glanced back to see it was porn. For a moment I wondered if I had actually fallen asleep and this was one of my regular Child Eyes related nightmares. Was this real life? Was I really standing with my fourteen year old son watching porn on the TV in a hospital?

I dashed back with adrenalin flooding my body. At the desk I looked at the receptionist with confusion and pointed to the screen. “What is going on?” I said. “It’s nothing to do with me” she replied in a defensive manner. My face crinkled and I said, “well what can I do? Who can I speak to about this”? Her answer was simple and disgraceful that I had to write a letter. Another damn letter! I looked at her and tried my best not to shout as I said firmly, “You need to turn that off, now”. She fumbled around behind the desk and found the remote. She told me to turn it off and passed the remote. As she did so, she knocked a button and the complimentary patient porn disappeared.

I settled my wheezing, barking bundle of joy back to sleep and called the hospital. My partner had checked the TV and realised that it was the film, Basic Instinct. The duty manager was just as astounded as I was and apologised profusely. She said they will take this seriously and get back to me. Great news but we cannot unsee. Had my daughter been older, say seven or eight, she would have never seen porn (or would she in an age where porn is norm?).

This experience represents a bizzare coincidence as the Hospital were unaware that I am part of a national campaign to prevent the public display of porn. It serves to show us that as the Children’s Commissioner title suggests, ‘Basically Porn is Everywhere’.

If I ever doubted the cause or if I was ever perturbed by being called a menopausal, hysterical, Victorian prude, I never will again.

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

FCUK and HMV victories!

Dec 6, 2013 by

We are so pleased to announce that in the last month alone, we have achieved two major successes!

HMV have removed all sexual posters from their range. There were around ten overtly sexual and explicit posters displayed next to Disney Princess, Moshi Monsters and One Direction! Following a lot of hard work and discussion, HMV agreed with Child Eyes that the display was entirely inappropriate and have removed from every store! People power. Thank you to all supporters who emailed and tweeted.

537875_185069701681761_1209722713_n

FCUK have removed their ‘Sketch to Store’ ad campaign from shop windows across the country. The Child Eyes team battled relentlessly to ensure that these very young, naked models did not continue to be displayed. The reason we did this was because the images we deliberately sexualised and some almost child like. Research into body image and school bullying shows that such images have a profound effect on youngsters. At first, FCUK told us that they were proud of the displays and that they deliberately pushed boundaries. Child Eyes supporters refused to accept this and tweeted and emailed furiously. FCUK finally agreed that their ads, while some were arty, we unacceptable on the High St. Well done all supporters.

fcuk 1

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Child Eyes’ Kirsty responds to a not so classy argument

Oct 18, 2013 by

A classic divide and conquer technique attempts to undermine the sheer grit and determination of the Child Eyes campaign. Rich and/or ‘posh’ presenters, publishers and glamour models are looking to enrage the working class with the suggestion that middle class, rich and posh women want to restrict the Working Man’s reading material. How dare those damn women? Cue outrage.

However, there is huge lack of truth and irrelevance in this argument. It serves a purpose as those making profit from the industry are not able to say what they really mean. What they mean, but cannot say, is that profit comes before children’s welfare and that prominent positioning of sexual material increases sales. Child Eyes is asking for sexual material to not be on display in public, family areas – not an outright ban on porn. This is such a contentious issue because there is a great deal of money to be made through contracts with retailers over the positioning of pornpapers and sexual magazines.

The lack of research on The Wright Stuff yesterday, for instance, is astounding. Wright referred to Kathy (Child Eyes co-founder) as poshee mum. He failed to mention the 23,000 supporters on this movement who are from all walks of life. They did not ask us what our team is like either. We would have told them that we have mothers, fathers, students, teachers, psychologists, MPs, people from various backgrounds and a working class charity worker. That would be me.

I started campaigning back in October last year prior to meeting Kathy (who is actually a passionate, down to earth, loving mother). I did it because I love my kids and want them to grow up in a world where sexism, sexual harassment, unhealthy sexual attitudes, rape culture and misogyny do not exist. I am working class, yes that’s right, Wright, I am working class and yet I am still capable of having a brain and being a good mother. I am also capable of looking rather posh in my tweed suit at Downing St that I bought for £1 at my local charity shop but I don’t attempt to hide my Black Country accent. The truth is that our team and our supporters do not judge each other by where we come from, how much money we have or where we grew up. We simply work together for the benefit of the next generation.

I find it deeply offensive to hear that not only middle class female campaigners should be scoffed at but also that working class people are being discussed by rich fat cats in terms of their lack of parental responsibility or inability to understand objectification (it is a long word for the likes of us). The argument put forward by Toby Young on The Daily Politics show this week follows that the working class want this material and that rich people should let them have it wherever they want it. This is an absurd a stereotype of the working class as it is of the middle class.

We could discuss this for weeks but the truth is that while we are focusing on differences between social classes we are being diverted from the issue that huge industries are exposing all children to more and more explicit sexual material for profit.

So the argument should really run like this (if we wanted to be sensational too): “Fat cats impose forced viewing of pornography onto children in grocery stores” or “Multi million pound industries choose profit over children’s welfare”.

The class argument smacks of desperation which tells us that we are very close to change.

Celebrate folks, we are almost there!

Kirsty

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Special Delivery Service to No 10

Oct 7, 2013 by

downing st petition

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Child Eyes Protest!

Sep 26, 2013 by

demo poster 1

We do hope you will join us. Here are a few more details;

Fancy dress is optional, you may just turn up and take photos. The more the merrier and we need loads of footage for social media.

We aim to minimise the risk of exposing children to sexual imagery. We do have banners containing sexual imagery and will cover parts of them with our Child Eyes logo. We will have lots of these and lots of blutac. Remember that all of the images we will show are legal and in almost every newsagents and supermarket in the country. We need to show the sheer incongruity of it and make an impact.

It is a good idea to laminate your banner so that the blutac comes off and in case it rains.

When we reach Downing St, we must protest across the road in Richmond Terrace.

We will then be removing the eyes from our banners and showing the true extent of the problem

We will have stewards either side of the road to warn passers by if they have children that the protest is not suitable for young eyes.

The Child Eyes team will be going into Downing St at 1pm.

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Co-op shows that it can be done, easily!

Sep 12, 2013 by

coop getting right 006

 

Here is Kirsty’s local Co-op. Kirsty saw The Sport and Lad mags in the eye line of children here back in October last year. The staff were unable to make changes due to Co-op policy. This situation spurred the start of the huge campaign Child Eyes with Kathy from Local Mums Online.

After many emails, meetings and hard work, we can now say that this Co-op is fully family friendly. We have given them a poster for the window to celebrate their wonderful stance on being family friendly.

Well Done Co-op!

We are making changes.

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Would your local retailer become Family Friendly?

Aug 28, 2013 by

We would love to see all independent retailers be Family Friendly.

Can you make changes in your area?

Just pop into your local store and ask them to join us and protect children from sexual imagery.

If you can get your local shop on board with this responsible retailer agreement we will share the good news and celebrate the shop through our site, Facebook and Twitter.

Let’s make changes together!

Child Eyes RRA national

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Child Eyes flyer. Get sharing!

Aug 28, 2013 by

Here is our campaign flyer. Can you print some and share them in your local area?

Great places to do this are,

Playgroups,

Nurseries,

School playgrounds,

At work,

Anywhere!

Flyer (1)

 

background_1700px.jpg

 

Join the Child Eyes Campaign to protect children from sexually explicit media in public.

www.childeyes.org

www.facebook.com/childeyes

Twitter @ChildEyesUK

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

All the children under The Sun.

Aug 22, 2013 by

Here are some letters from the children of Britain about the great British institution, Page 3. (Trigger Warning!) These quotes have been put together by Child Eyes from experiences told to us by parents or from research. Each situation is happening right now although the names and places are fictional.

………………………………

I am six yers old and i am learning to red and rite. I am liking looking at the big words in yur nice book. Wen i am on the bus with Mommy i lok at the lady on page 3. Can i please be on page 3 next week?

Sarita aged 6, Cornwall

……………………………….

Lol, page 3 is great. My gang buy it and omg page 3 is so funny. We all get it from the train and then we rate the girls in our school, their tits are never as good. Keep page 3.

Joe aged 13, Bristol

……………………………….

I have a flat chest just like the boys. They get The Sun and show me page three and ask why I don’t have any. They rate my boobs and I get zero.

Sarah, aged 14, Sandwell

……………………………….

The Sun is great. My Mam and Dad buy it for the free Lego. We had a great holiday last year with the vouchers. I read it every day.

Mia, aged 9, Carlisle

……………………………….

My Mummy wanted to breastfeed me but after three weeks she stopped. She was always trying to feed me under muslin because she was worried about men seeing her breasts. She complained in a breastfeeding cafe about page 3 but was shouted at by the owner. She was so upset about it and she cried a lot. She got post natal depression after and we had to go to a mother and baby unit. One of the nurses read The Sun in the kitchen and my mommy cried again.

Poppy, aged 10 months, Devon

………………………………..

My teacher says I could be a scientist or a businesswoman. I know that is not true because I never see women doing these things in The Sun. I am going to be a model instead so I don’t need to do any school work.

Pam, aged 15 Warrington

……………………………….

I think I am gay and when my mates show me page 3, I am not interested. Now they have started to call me queerboy and won’t hang out with me anymore.

Nat, aged 13, Edinburgh

…………………………………

My big brother says all white girls are slags, always taking their clothes off in newspapers but the boys at school say I’m not beautiful because black girls are never on page 3.

Cary, aged 14, Tenby

………………………………..

I want to be a glamour model but I am pregnant. The midwife says I should breastfeed but no way! It will totally ruin my boobs. If I did though, could I still be on page 3 if they were a bit saggy?

Laura, aged 16, Somerset

……………………………….

When I go to Daddy’s at the weekend he looks at the lady with no top on. I don’t like it but he just laughs and says I will grow some soon.

Lola, aged 7, Wakefield

……………………………….

I learnt the word Bastard from The Sun front page.

Harry, aged 5, London

……………………………….

When I go to big school I am going to make all girls show me their tits.

David, aged 10, Stafford

………………………………..

My mum says I can’t show my private bits to the boys. Why does a lady show her private bits in the newspaper in our local cafe?

Risna, aged 8, Birmingaham

………………………………..

My Dad reads The Sun and says women who breastfeed in restaurants are disgusting, boobs are just for men.

JJ, aged 12 Cardiff

………………………………..

When my uncle touches me, he always has page 3 on the table.

L, aged 4, Glasgow

……………………………….

I want to be famous when I get older. I wanted to be Jessica Ennis but if I want to have a big picture in The Sun which is the largest newspaper I will have to be a page 3 model first.

Karen, aged 11, Preston

……………………………….

My mum died of breast cancer and every time I see page 3 I think of her.

Mo, aged 9, Bournmouth

……………………………….

My boyfriend said I should be on page 3 so I sent him a picture of my boobs. He sent it round the school and now I get called a slag all day, every day. The boys shout, “show us your tits” and I cry.

Lucy, aged 14, Hampsted

……………………………….

I saw page 3 and my mum said it was harmless fun. I asked my girlfriend to send me a picture of hers. I thought it would be fun to send it to my friends. They sent it round the school on WhatsApp and now I have been excluded. My teachers and my mum are really angry with me and my girlfriend won’t speak to me. I wish I hadn’t done it, I thought it was harmless fun.

Kieron, aged 14, Hampstead

………………………………..

My mum and dad made me do bad things and now I live with my foster mum and dad. We were on the bus and an old man had a newspaper with a lady with no top on. It reminded me of the pictures my mum and dad used to take. I started being really naughty and we had to get off the bus. I heard my foster mum and dad talking after and they are signing something called a petition to stop it. I hope it works.

Jojo, aged 12, Northfield

…………………………………..

My boobs grew really big and all the boys used to call me page 3 and laugh. I stopped eating so that I could make them smaller. I have been in hospital four times this year.

Eve, aged 15, Newcastle

……………………………….

Dear David Dinsmore

You have huge power to show that there is another way and you know it. You could use your position to change culture in the UK and that is a position not many people in the world ever get the platform to do. You could stand up for the women and girls of Britain by making it clear that each woman and girl in the country is more than just boobs.

Can you rise to that challenge?

Children, aged 0-16, Britain

(These are not real children but the experiences have been collected from the Child Eyes campaign. These situations have been real experiences told to us by children, parents and teachers and various charity and campaign research.)

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Bravery and courage will change culture

Aug 18, 2013 by

Child Eyes receives many messages about individual campaigns in specific places, about specific things and we love it.

This week we were absolutely blown over by one woman’s bravery. Here is her email:

Hello,

I am 24 years old and I currently work in Subway. I am emailing you as I am having some difficulty with my employer regarding the display position of the Daily Sport. My Subway is located within a Spar shop. The Spar and the Subway have separate owners. The Spar stocks the Daily Sport and it is openly displayed on the bottom shelf, close to children’s magazines and it is very prominent and definitely at a height where a child could easily see it. I personally also find the images very offensive and they make me feel very uncomfortable. I spoke to the owner of the Spar about this issue. He initially said that he was only interested in making money and it didn’t matter if I didn’t like it. Approximately 20 minutes after this conversation he approached me and stated that he had thought about it and had decided to “hide” the newspaper (i.e. display it in a less prominent position).

Over the course of the next few weeks, the Sport was not visible. However, he then started to display the newspaper again. On 14/08/2013, at 06:45 (approx) I was walking through the Spar towards my place of work. As I was walking my eye was caught by an image of a barely clothed woman in a sexually suggestive position. This was not what I wanted to see at this time of the morning. I turned the newspaper around so I could no longer see the offending image and I walked on and began my day in work. A few minutes later, the owner of the Spar came towards me, he was extremely angry. He shouted at me, “How dare you interfere with my stock!” His voice was raised and he spat as he spoke. He was very, very angry. I opened my mouth to speak and he completely cut me off, he said, “I don’t want to know.” I felt embarrassed. I felt like a child. I felt like my opinion didn’t matter. I was very upset and I admit, I went and cried out the back.

I felt that this was unfair, so approximately, 15minutes later, I approached him, to try and explain myself. I wanted to tell him I didn’t mean to upset him. I also wanted to explain my feelings on the subject. He again shouted at me, in front of a member of the Spar staff. He shouted, “I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to hear it. Take it up with your employer; take it up with your employer.” I asked him what my employer had to do with it, as I felt the issue could be resolved between me and him as we are both sensible adults. I became slightly upset and said, “I feel this amounts to sexual harassment in the work place.” He walked off.

Today, 16/08/2013, my manager informed me that the owner of the Spar had emailed my manager and they were both very upset with me. They both felt that what I had done was very cheeky. I really did not meant to cause offence. The owner of the Spar had stated in the email that he is prepared to no longer display the Sport in the offensive position, BUT the owner of the Subway is planning on telling him to continue to display the paper in the original position!!

If she does this, I feel I am going to have to campaign against this. I am feeling very stressed out and anxious about this and I fear I may be pushed out of my job if I try to take this any further, but I do feel very strongly that I am in the right and that it amounts to harassment, as, although I am not a Spar employee, I still have to work in the building and there are sexual images being displayed which I have stated make me feel upset. I’m not sure if this is relevant, but I have experienced rape in the past and I feel that desensitisation to explicit images was one of the contributing factors behind my attacker.

I am just wondering, if you have any thoughts of this situation, or advice, I would be very grateful to hear them.
I support this campaign all the way.
It is hard, but I know we will win because we are right.

……………………………………………………………………………

Of course we were right behind this although this woman had already sown the seeds and we didn’t have to do anything apart from tell her that is right.

This amazing woman stood up to her employer and the owner of the Spar. The Spar shop have now decided to stop displaying The Sport in the eyeline of children. She risked losing her job to stand up for what she believes and we are so pleased she did.

Every single victory, every single effort changes attitudes. Well done!!

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Time to wake up to a New Sexual Revolution!

Aug 5, 2013 by

A great blog by our newest member of the team, Penny Forsyth.

 

I had been aware of the report ‘Letting Children be Children’1 for some time. In this report, Reg Bailey identified the sexualisation of childhood as a problem and not only that, a problem rooted in our wider adult culture. “Surely not!”, had been my first reaction but now, as I reflected on the last 24 hours, three examples easily sprung to mind.

 

It had been a sweltering hot day and my 4 year old grand daughter and I walked into town for ice cream because the nearby corner shop displayed ‘lad mags’ at child height and I did not want her to see them. As we went down the High Street she spied a barrier and rushing off started swinging on it. Showing off her Saturday morning gymnastics, her underpants were clearly visible to those passing. As positively as possible I encouraged her to stop. “Why?” she innocently asked.  Why indeed ?? I was trotting out my own well remembered childhood lesson that this was ‘not ladylike’, which as an adult I now recognised as an oblique reference to the world of sexuality. And then not far from my mind, were the words of a middle aged character, in a Howard Jacobson2 novel I was reading, musing on his sex life, “   his dreaming inclination ….the schoolgirl bending to fasten her shoelace…”. An isolated statement about paedophilia dropped into the prose without further comment.

 

Curious to know more I explored the research that formed the basis behind Reg’s statement. What exactly was meant by the sexualisation of childhood? My grand daughter was one year away from starting school, my oldest grand daughter already there, a grandson starting in two months and another not a year old, it was important to know.

 

The American Psychological Association3 define sexualisation as valuing a person only for his or her sexual appeal, equating attractiveness to being sexy, seeing people as parts for sexual use,. and imposing this and adult sexuality onto children and young people before they are capable of dealing with it, mentally, emotionally or physically. Healthy sexuality, 4 on the other hand, is based on a mutual respect, that fosters intimacy, bonding (a relationship that establishes ongoing mutual attachment) and shared pleasure, between consenting adult partners. So I was on the right track but this was far more than I had expected.

 

More worrying, as I read, was the fact that sexualisation, through the greater use and dissemination of sexualised visual imagery, had become increasingly prevalent since the late 1990s. Putting the flesh on the bones, this meant,;  sexual attributes portrayed as a measure of a person’s value; an increased volume of sexualised images and messages visible to all including children and young people and increased explicitness. Not only that, the lines are being blurred between ‘mainstream’ media and pornography and between sexual maturity and immaturity (as children are increasingly ‘adultified’ and adult women infantilised). Alongside this is an increase in extreme caricatures of femininity and masculinity e.g. the right physical attributes and a willingness to submit to male desires are a ‘passport’ to acceptance, money and fame. Lastly, chilling figures to consider are those related to child sexual abuse in the UK. In 2011/2012, 1 in 20 children were known to have been sexually abused, the ratio of female to male victims being 3:1. 30% of these offences were committed by children and young people with 98% of the perpetrators being male5

 

Had I really been unaware of this? Well, no actually, if I was honest I had felt quite a bit of disquiet about what I had seen and heard, but had felt largely powerless over the ubiquity of this material and at times wondered was I over-reacting to the visual imagery?! Time to look then at what capable of dealing with sexualisation mentally, emotionally or physically looked like, not only for children but also for myself.

 

The Sexualisation of Young People review 4 provides a comprehensive picture of the social and psychological forces in play. It seems, children are particularly vulnerable as perspective taking (the ability to consider the motives behind an image and message) does not develop until around the age of 7 to 8 years old. Even then children may believe they understand and even say the right things, but their actions can be quite different. This is known as conscious learning dominated by unconscious learning e.g. messages for boys centring around ideas of physical strength and dominant, controlling behaviour including manliness requires treating girls as sex objects and / or behaving in an aggressive manner. In addition, many of the messages children and young people have to contend with target their emotions at a time when ‘emotional instinct’ often influences decision making rather than cognitive reasoning.

 

Perspective taking, it seems, is necessary but not sufficient, and other forces are at play not only for children but for us all.

 

The accumulative effect, the drip, drip, of being exposed to sexualised images and messages also needs to be taken into account. Called social learning, this powerful mechanism sees the previously unthinkable become widely acceptable. We learn by observing others attitudes and behaviours and by seeing the outcome of them; in this case the cultural norms of what it means to be female and male. Praised for adhering to them or punished for going against them, the expectations of society are eventually internalised. We create our own rules that mirror them and thereafter self police these self imposed standards e.g. I need to look pretty; being a boy means being tough. There are also beliefs that operate at an unconscious level known as ‘subconscious associations’. For example, viewers are more likely to associate sex and sexuality with non-sexual depictions of minors after viewing sexually explicit content featuring actors who appeared to be under age.

 

And then the media also helps to shape our perceptions and beliefs; e.g what to focus on, what is cool, what is acceptable, and by employing objectification, (the treatment of people as a collection of body parts to be used rather than as individuals), our internalisation of this perspective.

 

So now I could understand my confusion better. Old internalised norms were battling it out with newer social messages and subconscious associations as I tried to work out where I ‘belonged’. Few of us enjoy being an outsider for too long!6 The next question then had to be “Was this sexualisation of childhood detrimental ?” The answer, the evidence says, is “Yes ”.

 

The Rapid Evidence Assessment7, three years on from Letting Children be Children, has looked at the effects of access and exposure to pornography on children and young people and confidently concluded that a significant proportion of children and young people are exposed to or access pornography both online and offline, with one method positively related to accessing it through others. This exposure and access increases with age and there are gender differences . Boys are more likely to be exposed to pornography, to access, seek or use pornography and to do so more frequently. They also generally view pornography more positively while girls generally report it as unwelcome and socially distasteful and feel more uncomfortable, than boys and young men, when viewing it.

 

In addition, access and exposure to pornography affects children and young people’s sexual beliefs and is linked to unrealistic attitudes about sex; maladaptive attitudes about relationships; more sexually permissive attitudes; greater acceptance of casual sex; beliefs that women are sex objects; more frequent thoughts about sex; sexual uncertainty about their sexual beliefs and values; and less progressive gender role attitudes (e.g. male dominance and female submission). Not only that, it is also linked to their engagement in “risky behaviours”. These include engaging in sexual practices from a younger age, unprotected anal or oral sex, the involvement of drugs and alcohol in sex,. and “sexting” which is associated largely with young men bullying and exploiting young women. Exposure to sexualised and violent imagery also affects children and young people and may affect their attitudes and sexual and violent behaviour.

 

So what had I learned? It seems that we are being led, slowly but surely, towards a world where sexuality is increasingly pushed onto children and young people and often packaged as using others for your own ends, pleasure or status or being used. Yet we do not thrive in such an environment. For our own well being we need mutuality, caring, friendship, and yes, healthy sexuality as a part of that8,9,10.

 

The sexualisation of childhood is rooted in our wider culture to which we, each in our own way, contribute either by commission or omission. Therefore it is going to take the wider culture, (that means all of us: parents, family, education, researchers, business, the media and the regulators) to create an alternative, more positive and better informed approach to sexuality for the future. We need to wake up to this new sexual revolution for our children and grandchildren cannot wait.

ebay still for sale

 

REFERENCES

 

  1. Department of Education (2011) Letting Children be Children: Report of an Independent Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood.
  2. 2.        Jacobson, H. (2010) The Finkler Question. London : Bloomsbury Publishing,(p.192)
  3. 3.        Report of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualisation of Girls (2007) (Online)

               http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf  (Accessed  13th July 2013)

  1. Papadopoulos, L. (2010)  Sexualisation of Young People Review. Crown Copywright.
  2. NSPCC (2013) Statistics on Child Sexual Abuse. (Online) http://www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/resourcesforprofessionals/sexualabuse/statistics_wda87833.html (Accessed on 14/7/2013)
  3. Macleod. S. (2008) Social Identity Theory. Simply Psychology.  (Online) http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html  (Accessed14/7/2013)
  4. Horvath, M.A.H.; Alys, L.; Massey,K.; Pina, A.,Scally M. & Adler, J. R. (2013) Basically… porn is everywhere” A Rapid Evidence Assessment on the Effects that Access and Exposure to Pornography has on Children and Young People.  Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
  5. Lamb, S. (2007 ) “Have Girls gone wild?”  Counselling Children and Young People. September, 18 – 22. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
  6. Siegel, D. J.  (2007) The Mindful Brain: Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of wellbeing. New York, W.W. Norton & Company Inc.
  7.  Heard, D., Lake, B. & McCluskey, U. (2012) Attachment therapy with adolescents and adults: Theory and Practice Post Bowlby. Revised Edition. London, Karnac Books.

 

read more

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Page 1 of 212