Australian Council on Children and the Media

Sexualisation of children in and by the media: what you can do

The issue:

Many young children are subjected to marketing and media pressures which encourage them to think they need to be hot, thin, and sexy (even if they’re only six), and that they need to buy the things that will help them achieve that.

In magazines, and store catalogues, children can be shown posed in a sexy fashion. Parents can also find it difficult to find age-appropriate clothing.

On billboards, TV video clip shows, and in other media, (and which can be places where young children have every right to be) children have the trappings of adult sexuality thrust upon them.

What's happened so far:

Prompted by community concerns, two Senate Inquiries (2008 and 2011) have examined the issues and recommended that the government take action.

To date there has been little action by Governments

Free TV Australia reviewed its Code of Practice in 2009 and took no action.

The AANA amended its Code of Practice on Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children in 2008, to little practical effect. AANA has also added the Practice Guide: Managing images of children and young people.

In other countries, there have been well researched reports that show there’s significant concerns there too. The Bailey report, Letting Children be Children: Report of an Independent review of the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood was released released in the UK in June 2011. In a policy statement released on 30 August, Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for a national task force on children, adolescents, and the media, and advocated for comprehensive sex education.

What needs to happen:

We need to keep telling the Government that the issue is of great concern to us, and that failure to act puts children at risk.

We need to make our voice heard where it counts. By your family, By salespeople and shopkeepers, By concert promoters, By television & radio stations, By dance schools, By bowling alleys, By video stores

"What we allow is what we approve"  Dr C Glenn Cupit.

What you can do:

1. Support organisations which are campaigning for children’s right to a positive media environment: (make a donation, volunteer your time, become a member)

2. Contact relevant politicians and others with influence:

  • Women.community.politics/connect - A group of female parliamentarians, both federal and state who meet to work on issues relevant to women. Their current  agreed  issues for advocacy include:Digital enhancement of images in  print and electronic publication relevant to the human form andthe impact of the increasing sexualisation of advertising and products and services aimed at children and young people.

Federal Ministers and members of Parliament

Your State local MP

The National Children's Commissioner - Ms Megan Mitchell

3. Have your say – lodge complaints about inappropriate media:

Advertising (anywhere including on billboards)

TV Program Content (including music videos, program promotions, program content,). Lodge complaints with the network you are watching:

  • ABC
  • Channel 7, 9 and 10
  • SBS
  • Merchandise/ Displays/ catalogues. Lodge complaints about merchandise/ displays to the Manager of the store OR clothing chain

4. Talk to your children:

Use our parent guide Too sexy too soon