Everything Is Child Abuse

Publisher:
Univ Queensland Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Media International Australia, 2010, 135 pp. 131 - 140
Issue Date:
2010-01
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In 2008, the Australian federal Senate held an Inquiry into the Sexualisation of Children in the Contemporary Media Environment. I made a submission to this Inquiry, noting that in public debate about this topic a number of quite distinct issues, with distinct aetiologies, were collapsed together. These included: child pornography; children being targeted by any form of marketing; young people becoming sexually active; sexual abuse of children; raunch culture; protecting children from any sexualised material in the media; and body image disorders. I suggested that commentators had collapsed these issues together because the image of the helpless child is a powerful one for critics to challenge undesirable aspects of contemporary culture. The result of many different ideological viewpoints all using the same argument - that the forms of culture they didn't like were damaging children - gives the impression that there is no element of culture today that isn't (somebody claims) causing harm to children: everything is child abuse. The danger of such discourses is that they draw attention away from the real harm that is being caused to children by sexual and other forms of maltreatment - which overwhelmingly occur within families, and for reasons ignored in these debates.
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