Family First NZ is calling for a national debate on the sexualisation of young children and teenagers.
Its call comes as it slams the retailer Jay Jays for marketing the Little Losers line of clothing shirts to teenagers and children as young as 10 with slogans such as “Miss B**ch”, “Miss Wasted” and “Miss Floozy”, and for boys “Mr Well-Hung”, “Mr Pimp”, “Mr A**hole” and “Mr Drunk”.
“It is time the business community, which includes retailers, advertisers and the media, demonstrated social leadership in this area,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “The sexualisation of our teenagers and young children is a serious issue and these shirts are just one example of many where profits are being put before the safety and wellbeing of our children and families.”
“We need to let children be children. We should not be subjecting them to adult concepts, experiences or identity before they are mature enough to cope with them.”
The Australian Childhood Foundation has also complained to the Australian branch of Jay Jays saying that the shirts send the wrong message to impressionable tweens and teens.
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.”