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Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The Insight program of last week has been waiting for me to get around to watching it, which I did today. It’s on their website to view as a podcast. I wrote about the debate last year.

Young Tamara Wood, in the Insight audience, sometimes uses Barbies as the mothers of the Bratz.

Maria Roberto, a psychologist, thinks there’s a problem with body image, something some of the mothers in the studio also flagged as a problem, especially in the early teens. One mother thought that the material consumed in the tweens would influence attitudes held in the teens. “They’re engaging in adult conversations and they’re using concepts that they are really not very familiar with,” says Roberto.

But Duncan Fine, co-author with Catharine Lumby of Why TV is Good for Kids, thinks there’s “a lot of paranoia coming from parents.”

“When an eight-year-old wants to be Paris Hilton or wants to dance around like Kylie Minogue, what they’re really saying is … it’s like my big sister. I just want to be like my big sister. I want to be a bit more grown-up.” He thinks the material consumed by tweens is harmless. He thinks children know what marketing is. “They’re very savvy.”

He thinks parents should tell their children about marketing.

The producers found a ten-year-old boy in Melbourne who was found having sex with his six-year-old sister. He made sure his mother and father were occupied elsewhere before engaging in the act. He told his sister it was a secret, and that she mustn’t tell anyone.

His father thinks he may have picked up the clues to this behaviour from magazines and TV, especially the music clips. “It might have been anything.” They don’t know the reason for the behaviour.

The video shows Dr Joe Tucci, chief executive officer of the Australian Childhood Foundation, saying that we’re turning kids into consumers that have an interest in sexual material. But is there any hard evidence?

According to Tucci, one of the factors in the cases of children who engage in inappropriate sexual activity “has to be this ever-increasing sexual imagery that’s out there. It just confuses children.”

He thinks parents should talk about sex with their children in a “positive way rather than a destructive way”. According to Duncan Fine, there is no evidence that it is the images from popular culture that cause the inappropriate behaviour.

Clive Hamilton of the Australia Institute thinks there is a case to be made for “corporate paedophilia”. He says that girls are aspiring to a “slutty celebrity image”. He says “we as a society have an obligation to protect children from this barrage of sexualising material”.

Duncan Fine thinks that using the term “paedophilia” is “pretty disgraceful”.

Joe Tucci wants advertisers to produce a ‘child impact study’ for every campaign.

Hamilton wants a ban on advertising to children under twelve. Fine says that this puts us on the road to becoming like the Taliban.

Lesley Brydon of the Advertising Federation of Australia says that the Advertising Standards Board listens to complaints.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am oldish man. My childhood friends and I regularly had sexual explorations and fiddles with each other (although not to the point of sexual intercourse with girls although boys sometimes 'bummed' each other).

The times I'm talking about are the mid-50s: no television, no Internet, no MTV, no 'sexual imagery' etc. So perhaps the only thing that influenced us was the naturalness of being human children at play.

One of the big problems in society today are psychologists: there are so many of them that they have to invent new syndromes and societal problems to keep themselves in business.

A friend in the prosecutorial service has often commented that the greatest harm to children as a result of 'inappropriate sexual activity', is from the police, courts, parents and psychologist do-gooders rather than any lasting problems from the 'inappropriate sexual activity'. (Naturally I am not referring to serious cases of child sexual abuse here.)