Friday, February 26, 2010

Children 'over-exposed to sexual imagery'

Source: By Dominic Casciani, BBC News

Children are being increasingly exposed to sexual imagery and their parents have limited opportunities to stop it, a report for the Home Office warns.
The report calls for tougher regulation of sexual imagery in adverts and a ban on selling "lads' mags" to under-16s.

It also recommends selling mobile phones and games consoles with parental controls automatically switched on.
Author Dr Linda Papadopoulos said there was a clear link between sexualised imagery and violence towards females.
Her report said the material children were being exposed to included the growth of lads' mags and pornography on mobile phones, through to big-name fashion brands using sexual imagery to advertise clothes targeted at young teenagers.

'Distorting perceptions'
The report said this "drip-drip" exposure was distorting young people's perceptions of themselves, encouraging boys to become fixated on being macho and dominant, while girls in turn presented themselves as sexually available and permissive.
One outcome had been the rise of sexual bullying in which girls felt compelled to post topless or naked pictures on social networks, it added.

"Both the images we consume and the way we consume them are lending credence to the idea that women are there to be used and that men are there to use them"
Linda Papadopoulos

"Unless sexualisation is accepted as harmful, we will miss an important opportunity… to broaden young people's beliefs about where their values lies," said Dr Papadopoulos, a psychologist.
The report's 36 recommendations include calling for games consoles, mobile phones and some computers to be sold with parental controls already switched on.
This would allow families to automatically filter which on-demand services and online material their children can use.
Other recommendations include:
  • A ban on "sexualised" music videos before the TV watershed
  • A ban on Jobcentres advertising positions in lap-dancing clubs and massage parlours
  • Internet service providers to block access to pro-bulimia and pro-anorexia websites
  • The creation of a website where parents can report any "irresponsible marketing" they believe sexualises young children.
Dr Papadopoulos said there should also be symbols to show when a published photograph had been digitally altered - such as pictures of celebrities manipulated to make them appear thinner.

She also recommends giving the Advertising Standards Authority the power to act against sexualised imagery appearing within commercial websites, such as provocative photo-shoots used by clothing chains targeting teenagers.
Teenagers talk about the pressures they face over sex and image
Dr Papadopoulos said: "The evidence gathered in the review suggests a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm. 

"Both the images we consume and the way we consume them are lending credence to the idea that women are there to be used and that men are there to use them."
The review forms part of the Home Office's broader attempts to have a louder public debate about how to combat violence against women and girls.
Both Labour and the Conservatives are examining the issues. Tory leader David Cameron said earlier this month that he would clamp down on irresponsible advertising targeted at children.

He also mooted the idea that parents should be able to complain about offensive marketing tactics used by companies, via a specially set-up website.
Such moves were needed to stop children being "bombarded" with inappropriate material, he said.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "We know that parents are concerned about the pressures their children are under at a much younger age, which is why we have already committed to a number of the recommendations in this report.
Parental control

"Changing attitudes will take time but it is essential if we are going to stop the sexualisation which contributes to violence against women and girls."

Deputy Children's Commissioner for England, Sue Berelowitz, said the report was excellent, but said responsibility did not only lie with the media.

"Parents need to be stepping in and taking control, they need to be imposing good boundaries, they need to know what their children are watching, people need to be really careful about children having private access to the internet in their bedrooms," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at Kent University, said society as a whole and adults were to blame.
He said: "The whole of society is hypersexualised - sex becomes the common currency through which adults make their way in the world and continually send a signal to children that sex is all that matters.

"One of the big problems that we are faced with is that increasingly adults have lost the capacity to draw a line between their own attitudes and those of children and increasingly we're recycling adult attitudes about sex through the prism of children."


Sarah said...

The idea about publishing a symbol next to digitally enhanced photograph is interesting. Surely by doing this we are all admitting that we know full well the images aren't completely real, but the enhanced version is in some way better?

Anonymous said...

That's why I love the fundamentals of Islam and the idea of NOT mixing genders 'cause I believe it confuses people and screws us up really. And of course the media and pornofication of society and especially women, doesn't make it easy (for anybody) to live (especially) in the West - and it doesn't mean that it's OK just because people stopped reflecting about this, because they see it Every day...
I'm a member of Pornofrit Miljø (Porn-free Environment) here in Denmark and I love the work they're doing to ban pornographic commercials in public etc. We have to do what we can to change this situation, insha'Allah. And protect our children!!

Rene´s Bare Essentials said...

Rose: Exactly! There is an excellent book titled "pornified: how pornography is damaging our lives" by pamela paul. Porn is everywhere. Even if we dont want it, it filters itself into our homes and businesses. My husband and I like to watch documentaries and on some sites where you can download documentaries for free, you will find links to porn sites and naked pictures of women posing on the side of the page. The same goes for young children who are using the internet. Parents have to be very careful because pop-up porn appears everywhere and children are now being exposed to porn at younger ages and starting to act on it. Children are curious. We live in a sexualized world. Sex is everywhere. Billboards, magazines, commercials, you name it. A few months ago I was at the dentist and there were 7 people including myself waiting in the waiting area. The tv was on and everyone was watching a program where a man was trying to choose which woman he wanted to "hook up with" sexually. They showed the women doing sexual things to the man and getting naked. This was in public and I was beyond mortified that it was being shown in a dentist office of all places where children are sitting with their parents. I think thats wonderful that you are working towards banning porn commercials.

Rene´s Bare Essentials said...

I would also like to add that as a society we are becoming desensitized to pornographic images. When I was growing up the programs I watched would make a big deal out of married couples kissing. Some programs didnt even show married couples holding hands or sleeping in the same bed. Now when you watch sitcoms, men and women get intimate on the first night of meeting leaving nothing out for viewers to see. Homosexuality is becoming more accepted nad sitcoms and movies are now displaying relationships between homosexuals, something that was once unheard of. Women are growing up not sure if they are straight, bi-sexual or gay. And they really think it has nothing to do with the media?

Anonymous said...

Dear René, I see that we completely agree on this subject! I'll check that book out someday, insha'Allah!
My husband and I also bump into these terrible pop-ups while looking at halal stuff on the internet. It's REALLY unpleasant to sit with your husband - or alone - waiting for something to load while e.g. a bleached blonde with a H-cup is posing on the right side and a teenage brunette is posing on the left (OMG!) and this is nothing compared to other things you see on the net or in public places! It drives me nuts. Hehe. But I hav really tried to work on my reactions and temper when it comes to these things. I used to react really emotionally about it 'cause of earlier bad experiences with boyfriends etc. :-/ (before being Muslim. Alhamdulillah that Allah (swt) opened my eyes to Islam!). I do hope that I can someday live in a place where the pornofication of the environment is less than here! Even just going to the country is better than in the city. - Although the internet is a great porn-resource :-/ Poor kids now a days. I think society has become very unhealthy! Like what you experienced in that waiting room. Ya Allah!!

I also agree with you on the homosexual stuff etc. Actually my first boyfriend, when I was 17, was "bi-sexual" (or whatever!) and thought that everybody was bi-sexual! Me, being young and not that clever yet, really tried to believe this (also because of my obsession with this guy) and for a few years I was really confused when it came to that matter! And of course media has a big influence here too. In DK it's NORMAL that almost every girl has kissed another girl! It's crazy and damaging for the heart... Now of course I understand that I am straight and that all the confusions was just because of this society we live in and what people expect from you...
Yes, and just take a look at Lady Gaga's songs and Kate Perry (I kissed a girl, I liked it...). Kids love these songs and think they have to be just like Gaga and Kate :-/ And the boys run around calling the girls bitches, ho's and whatnot :-/
My stepdaughter had received sms'es from a "friend" from her class writing "F**k you", "F**k you bitch". She's 9...and he is 8. She said he was just being funny. I didn't think that was very funny.....

Well..I have so much more to say, but gotta stop now :) Till next time dear sister and thanks for bringing up this interesting subject!
May Allah (swt) help us protect our children!

Rene´s Bare Essentials said...

Dear Rose:
lol I also could speak for weeks on this topic. That´s horrible that your stepdaughter is being exposed to such profanity at such a young age. Back in the states, before I moved to Spain I used to tutor children. One of the children I was tutoring (who was 12)was exchanging pornographic pictures with his friends via emails. And he is muslim! His sister and I were one day searching the history on her computer to find a site we had used for vocabulary and stumbled upon porn sites that were very recent. I of course felt obliged to tell the mother that I found porn sites on the history. The young boy denied it (maybe it was the dad who was watching it? WHo knows...) anyway the sites I saw were very disturbing for a 12 year old to watch. His parents supposidely talked to him and that was that... I know what you mean about children growing up listening to songs that talk about sex (lady gaga, kate perry etc). The same can be said about boys/teens. From a young age they are taught that women are "sexual objects" and "sluts/whores" from lyrics they listen to and music videos they watch which display women catering to mens sexual needs and dancing around in their bikinis. I wiould say that most teens today are going through an identity crisis and it doesnt help that their roles models are actors, singers, models and so on. Its one thing for non muslims to take them as role models, but the muslim youth have started to take them as role models as well. What messages are these role models giving to these young boys and girls when they are promiscious, beat their wives or girlfriends, use profanity when describing the opposite sex and so on?
Anyway.... what are you studying at University?

Rene´s Bare Essentials said...

I forgot to add video games. The characters on video games usually display women in short skirts and tube tops (with huge boobs and tiny waists). But thats another topic (video games and violence...)

Anonymous said...

Again I agree on all of what you wrote!! (Ironically we've just received paper-commercials (by accident!!) with pictures of "Erotic Christmas-wear" in them :-/ :-/)
And this world is indeed a challenge!! I want to share this: my mom (sorry mom, I do love you but I don't always think you're right...) always told me that religion is for weak people, but what I came to realize (luckily in a quite young age) is that the truth is exactly the opposite!! You have to be so strong to follow a deen in this world and not just go with the flow and think like everybody else and accept everything that society is serving for you... (if that makes sense).

Our role, if we become parents (like you :)) is to teach our children the principles of Islam and how they can live a good life in the Islamic way in this world with all it's challenges, insha'Allah. And to give them a high selfesteem so they are able to put up boundaries later in their lives and not accept anything, insha'Allah, that is damaging to them...!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way I study Audiologopaedics at the university. Insha'Allah I will work as a speech-language pathologist later - or perhaps an audiologist :)

Rene´s Bare Essentials said...

rose: what a great field to go into! I studied social work and psychology but if I could go back I would love to study speech pathology and work with autistic chilren.

Anonymous said...

I think social work and psychology sounds really great too!! :D Though I love my field too! And I can't wait to get to work with it! :)