BRUSSELS, June 11, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The sexualisation of children is “nothing more than imposing the sexuality of adults on young children, teenagers and especially girls when they are not ready for it emotionally, mentally or physically,” MEP Joanna Skrzydlewska said at a meeting at the European Parliament last week.
Skrzydlewska, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the equalization of girls and a member of the Member of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, organized the meeting to discuss the problem of childhood sexualisation at the European level with researchers, representatives from production and advertising companies, parents’ groups, MEPs and government representatives.
“In today’s culture, which also addresses children, eroticised images and sexually suggestive content are omnipresent. This affects the development of children and young people, and affects the perception of sexual behaviour in our societies,” said Skrzdlewska. This sexualisation, she said, is “also the case when the value of a person is measured by their physical attractiveness, which leads to the objectification of the individual.”
She distinguished between “sexualisation” and the normal development of healthy biological processes and self-image, saying the former is distinguished inasmuch as it “leads to imposing adult sexual behaviours on children.”
“We should ask ourselves if the direct results of sexualisation, such as the increase of child sexual abuse, the intensification of the phenomenon of child pornography or the increase of sexual violence against women and girls, are the price we want to pay in relation to the commercialisation of life and human relations,” Skrzydlewska added.
Agata Byczewska, a media spokesman for the group at the European Parliament, said, “Modern societies are neglecting the problem. Adult standards for looks and behaviour targeted at girls are manifest in numerous fields, especially advertising campaigns and TV shows.”
The sexualisation of children, mainly through age-inappropriate imagery in advertising and the instant availability of hard-core pornography on the internet, has come to the attention of British government officials after years of debates in the newspapers. The papers have highlighted the sale of such items as high-heeled shoes for infants and toddlers, “Bratz” dolls dressed in miniskirts, high heels and fishnet stockings, padded bikini tops for seven year-olds, and sports clothes for little girls with provocative “sexy” words and phrases.
Some critics have said that the sexualising of young girls is merely a natural extension of the hyper-sexualisation of the entire culture. While their mothers are enrolling at the local gym in pole-dancing classes, even very young girls are wearing scaled-down versions of brassieres and lingerie modelled on Victoria’s Secret fashions, usually bought for them by mothers seeking to “bond” with their children. The EU group pointed to the recent publication of a fashion spread in Vogue magazine that featured a 10-year-old girl in provocative clothing, make-up and poses that garnered criticism around the world.
Since at least 2006, studies have been conducted around the western world, including the 2007 Australian Senate Report, the 2007 American Psychological Association Report, the Home Office Report in 2010 and the 2011 Bailey Review in the U, which have uniformly found that children are being pushed into adult sexuality at earlier ages through the use of media imagery and products directly marketed to children. The report by the American Psychological Association said highly sexualised marketing to young girls plays upon children’s desire for affection and the need to conform. It can lead to a host of life-long problems, including eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.
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