Age of sexual offenders getting younger

The Press 06 March 2008

The Christchurch agency that treats sexual offenders is now dealing with children as young as five. STOP Trust manager Don Mortensen said the age of pre-adolescents they were treating had got lower in the past few years, and they now were seeing some children in their first year of primary school. “We’re now working with children down to the age of five and six,” he said. “We don’t call what they do sexual offending, it’s sexually inappropriate, but some is quite disturbing.” While it is described as sexually inappropriate behaviour, some of it would be serious enough to warrant charges if the offender was older. “It can be very serious. One boy was abused at school by a girl for a whole year _ at that age girls are bigger. She would strip him at school and assault him.” ….Mortensen said there was no one reason why more young children were acting inappropriately, but they knew more at a young age than in the past. “Children are being exposed to explicit adult material. So it’s right across the board children are much more sexually aware from a young age.”
Family First Comment: We should be hugely concerned but not surprised by this revelation. What we sow, we reap. The Australian Childhood Foundation released research last year which showed problem sexual behaviour in children as young as six, which often appears to be influenced by sex imagery in the media – such as music videos, adult magazines, and internet pornography. This is challenging the previously held view that most child sex abusers were responding to having being abused themselves.

And a study in the US has warned that inescapable media images of sexed-up girls and women posing as adolescents can cause psychological and even physical harm to adolescents and young women. The pressure of what experts call “sexualisation” can lead to depression, eating disorders, and poor academic performance, said the report released by the American Psychological Association, “because their sense of self is still being formed”.

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. Family First will continue to battle retailers like JayJays, Hells Pizza and many other retailers who attempt to cross these community standards, which are there for a very good reason.