One of the current major issues surrounding media influence on children is the amount of sexual content which they are exposed to daily.
This month, terrifying news has flooded in from Australia, where children, already at the age of five, were recommended to attend therapy for sexual misbehaviour at school. The Weekend Australian has last Thursday published a story about kindergarten children, who not only tried to sexually arouse their peers, but also acted out various sexual scenes using toys available to them. Records show that not only the number of sexual incidents involving young children increases every year, the number of children marked involved with inappropriate sexual behaviour further increases as they proceed into their teenage years. Chris Gordon, an expert in the field of therapy for family problems, stated that “Easy access to sexual images on the internet and mobile phones is frequently recognised as a crucial factor” when children are seen to be behaving age-inappropriately.
Nowadays, children do not have to access pornography websites to be exposed to sexual content as the majority of TV series, commercials and other advertisements shown in the prime time display some kind of sexual setting. According to Victor Strasburger, a Professor of Paediatrics, Professor of Family and Community Medicine and Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University Of New Mexico School Of Medicine, astonishing 14000 sexual references are made on TVs per year alone.
It is important to pay attention when children manage to generate various sexual innuendos, as although it could suggest only child’s curiosity and simple growing up, it could also be a sign of trauma, anxiety or exposure to inappropriate media or even poor parenting.
A severe case of serious sexual harassment coming from young children has already been reported in Australia earlier this year when a four-year-old was provoking his classmates to engage in sexual-themed games during playtime. Australia is, however, not the only country which deals with such incidents. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the UK has recently called for help in order to tackle problems regarding the growing number of children showing detrimental sexual behaviour in the country.
- Urban, R. (2016). Concern rises at kids’ sex conduct. Theaustralian.com.au. Retrieved 23 April 2016, from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/concern-rising-at-kids-sexual-conduct-in-sydney-school-district/news-story/6ed5182913f05103300244f945480f40
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2016). NICE seeks views on new guidance about children displaying harmful sexual behaviour. Nice.org.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2016, from https://www.nice.org.uk/news/press-and-media/nice-seeks-views-on-new-guidance-about-children-displaying-harmful-sexual-behaviour
- Begley, P. (2016). Child sexual abuse by children demands more clinics, NSW Health worker says. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 April 2016, from http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/child-sexual-abuse-by-children-demands-more-clinics-nsw-health-worker-says-20160331-gnv5u4.html
- Strasburger, V. (2012). Teenage Sex and the Media Teenage sex and the Media. Sexualityandu.ca. Retrieved 23 April 2016, from http://www.sexualityandu.ca/parents/talking-to-your-child-about-sexuality/teenage-sex-and-the-media