chapter  1
Is Childhood Being Sexualized?
Pages 34

Concern about the premature introduction of children to sexual themes has attracted increasingly vociferous debate since the turn of the millennium. There is wide acceptance by governments and childhood activist, charity and lobbying groups in different parts of the world that consumer culture has become sexualized and that this phenomenon has infiltrated not just commodities and associated marketing targeted at adults, but also that aimed at children.1 This phenomenon is, it has been argued, manifest in film and television entertainment, music videos, advertising, and commodities including accessories, clothing, cosmetics and toys. Wrapped up with sexualized content are messages that seek conformity to centralized standards of physical attractiveness and beauty that often create unrealistic or unattainable targets for young people. There has been extensive public debate about the sexualization of childhood in

many countries. This debate has been informed by diverse forms of research into the nature of sexualization in the media, marketing, fashion and commodities targeted at children. Public debate has been further fuelled by high-profile media coverage of sexualization issues that has focused increasingly on the role being played by the digital media that have become so widespread and popular among children. Criticisms have centred on the sexual content in magazines targeted at pre-teenage and teenage children, in music videos, films and television programmes to which children can gain access, and in electronic games that many children play offline and online, and on styles of clothing aimed at children, and especially at teenage and pre-teenage girls, that attempt to make them look sexually mature when they are not.2