Review calls for crackdown on pornographic images to protect children

Catherine Gaunt
Friday, February 26, 2010

Children should be taught 'digital literacy' from the age of five, a new Home Office-commissioned report into the sexualisation of children recommends today.

Psychologist Linda Papadopoulos carried out the review into how sexualised images and messages could be affecting the development of children and young people.

The report highlights how pornographic images have become part of mainstream culture, with children exposed to them at an increasingly early age through mobile phones, computer games and the internet.

Dr Papadopoulos said, ‘Behind the social commentary and the headlines about inappropriate clothing and games for children there are the very real statistics on teenage partner violence, sexual bullying and abuse that need to be addressed.’

The report’s 36 recommendations will be considered by the Government.

They include an online ‘one-stop-shop’ so that the public can report their concerns about irresponsible marketing which sexualises children; a ban on selling lads’ mags’ to under-16s; ensuring games consoles are sold with parental controls already switched on; bannnig sexist and stereotyped images of women from billboards; and music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics should only be broadcast after the ‘watershed’.


The report's recommendations for schools include:

•    All school staff to have training on gender equality
•    DCSF to issue guidance to schools on how to tackle gender inequality, sexual and sexist bullying and violence against women and girls
•    Practical ‘How To’ guidance for schools on tackling sexualisation
•    Primary schools to teach about how the media influences body image and personal identity with a new programme of study on Understanding Physical Development , Health and Wellbeing

The review was originally commissioned by the Government to examine the impact of the sexualisation of young girls on violence against women, but was widened to look at the impact on boys of ‘hyper-masculinised images’, and how the two issues perpetuate and reinforce each other and affect all children and young people.

Home secretary Alan Johnson said, ‘Changing attitudes will take time, but it is essential if we are going to stop violence against women and girls.’

 

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