Family First NZ is calling on the government to enforce similar advertising codes to those just introduced in Australia regarding the sexualisation of children.
The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has announced changes to the Advertising to Children Code, which mean that advertisements for kids’ products must not include sexual imagery or imply that children are sexual beings. Ads must also not state or imply that owning a product will enhance a child’s sexuality.
“It is urgent that NZ also adopt these codes,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “The recent marketing of sexualized shirts at young teenagers by clothing store Jay Jays, padded bras and make-up for children as young as 7, and the general media message to look older and act older are examples of advertisers crossing the line of what is acceptable and appropriate for our community and for the protection of our children.”
The Australian Childhood Foundation released a report in Apr 2007, which showed that problem sexual behaviour in children as young as six, often appears to be influenced by sex imagery in the media. This is challenging the previously held view that most child sex abusers were responding to having being abused themselves.
And a recent report by the American Psychological Association points to the dangers when sexualisation leads to girls viewing themselves as objects and having an unhealthy preoccupation with appearance. The pressure can lead to depression, eating disorders, and poor academic performance.
“A premature interest in a sexy appearance, an obsession about body image as a teenager, and an undermining of the social prohibition against seeing children as sexual objects and sexually attractive, are all huge warning flags that profits are currently more important than protecting the wellbeing of our children.”
“It’s time that changed. We need to follow Australia’s lead,” says Mr McCoskrie.