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Pages tagged "advertising"
MR: ACL welcomes bi-partisan recognition of the problem of sexualisation of children
· May 06, 2011 10:00 AM
For release: Friday 6 May, 2011
The Australian Christian Lobby welcomes Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella’s call for a tougher stance on sexualized imagery in advertising. Ms Mirabella said self-policing of the advertising industry does not work and she has called for a statutory body with power to levy serious fines on offenders.
“The simple fact is that no amount of parental control can avoid children absorbing the overt sexuality and objectification that has seeped into today's marketing culture,” said ACL spokeswoman Wendy Francis.
“The good news is that there are Federal inquiries into this issue happening right now. Premature sexualisation is becoming a hot topic in public debate forums.” Last month, Ms Francis of Queensland and ACL’s Victoria Director appeared before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs in regard to their Inquiry into the Regulation of Billboard Advertising.
This inquiry was set up by Labor MP Graham Perrott. Ms Francis said it was great to see bi-partisan recognition of the problem.
They presented research which showed exposure of sexualised images to young people has been linked to childhood anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and self harm.
Sadly the 2009 Senate Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts also held an Inquiry into the sexualisation of children in the contemporary media environment. No action was taken.
Since that time The
Australian Psychological Society
has released guidelines for parents as to how to deal with “the bombardment of highly sexualised images their children experience”.
“We all know it’s there. But highly sexualised imagery and the effect of premature sexualisation in our children is not inevitable – on the contrary, it can be stopped if only we can find the political will,” Ms Francis said.
She said this debate had gone on for too long and has called for decisive action from our Government. “The community outrage has been gathering for long enough – it’s time to act,” she said. “Research confirms that younger and younger children are becoming sexually active in our community. How much more research has to be gathered to come to the conclusion that our children are being adversely affected by advertisers who are greedy for their slice of business and are using shock tactics to gain attention with no thought of the damage being caused to young and impressionable minds?”
Research from both the
Australian Medical Association
American Psychological Association
has shown that early sexualisation of children, and particularly of girls, causes a variety of problems.
What billboards tell us about Australian ideals
· April 15, 2011 10:00 AM
Queensland's State Director Wendy Francis has written an opinion piece published in Sight Magazine today on the impact of billboards and outdoor advertising on children. See
It was British writer Norman Douglas who said -“You can tell the ideals
of a nation by its advertisements.”It rings true when you take a look outside these days and notice the content on billboards.
According to the Advertising Standards Bureau and Australian advertisers, the often sexually-explicit images and messages which can be found on billboards, bus shelters, shop windows and the sides of public transport is in line with prevailing community standards. Ads that, in a workplace
would be deemed to be sexual harassment, are promoted as clever advertising in our public spaces.
Attendees at the federal inquiry into outdoor advertising held in Melbourne in the first week of April heard a very different story. The inquiry received submissions from the Salvation Army, Kids free 2b Kids, Collective Shout and the Australian Christian Lobby. The combined voice of these groups concluded with a strong attack on the advertising industry and a call for a mandatory G rating for all outdoor advertising.
So what’s the fuss about? Where does one start. Last year in Brisbane there was a billboard campaign less than five metres from the Brisbane Boys Grammar School gate for a ‘naughty bar’ which is actually a strip club. The images were explicit, very large and at head height. All complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau were dismissed.
These complaints were followed up with the Outside Media Association and verbal agreement was given that perhaps the placement of this particular advertising campaign was in poor taste. After an unusually long advertising campaign the billboards were finally replaced and the school and the community breathed a sigh of relief. But not for long. The strip club billboard campaign has recently reappeared 400 metres down the road. A letter from the school principal was tabled at the inquiry in support of G-Rated outdoor advertising and agreeing with the view that prevailing community standards would not condone the advertising of a strip club to children.
A current billboard campaign on one of Brisbane’s busiest roads shows the back view of a nude man. He is selling a brand of natural tea. If this man were actually standing on the side of the road in this manner he would be arrested. But instead, we enlarge him and put him up on a billboard and consider it to be acceptable advertising. What message is this sending to our children?
I have not met a parent who is happy for their children to read slogans regarding erection difficulty, or to be able to identify the world’s thinnest condom, or to know which fertility clinic offers the quickest ‘route’ to get pregnant, or be told to text the word 'hard' to 1800 RAISE IT. The parents I know want to reserve their right to have some control over their children’s viewing of sexual imagery and messaging.
But it would seem that not everyone agrees with this position. The Eros foundation, which represents the adult and entertainment industry, also made a submission to the Federal Inquiry. At best it was unconvincing. At worst it was insulting. It is Eros’ view that a very small minority of strongly religious people punch well above their weight in making complaints around billboard advertising. In reference to religious people it said, “They use shrill and righteous rhetoric to drive their arguments rather than fact and logic,” and “Religious campaigns to rid the highways of ‘filth’ and ‘pornography’ often reflect cultish behaviour and attract slightly unhinged people to them.”
The Outdoor Media Association also weighed into the argument claiming it already had an unofficial pre-vetting system in place and that it does send some ads back to the advertiser before the ads are placed. It is clear this ‘unofficial’ system did not work with the Calvin Klein rape billboard and the 'have an affair’ billboard - both of which were found to breach the code and yet made it through this 'pre-vetting' system.
The Association also claimed it is in the industry's 'best interest' to act responsibly so as not to have its billboards removed. In actual fact, companies can make a lot of money from controversy and it appears that some have become adept at working the self-regulation system. When Sexpo billboards created community outrage in Ipswich last year, newspaper articles were written showing the ads as well as giving information as to when and where Sexpo was taking place, resulting in the sort of publicity money can’t buy.
To allow our children’s best interest to come second behind the mighty advertising machine is incredibly short-sighted. The call to clean up outdoor advertising is not new, but it is gaining momentum and will not be silenced. The current self-regulatory system has failed to protect the rights of children regarding early sexualisation, and research is showing that it is leading to damaging effects such as eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. There have been decades of adverse reaction from community groups regarding inappropriate advertising, but this long-standing community dissatisfaction has been ignored and advertisers have continued to enjoy the current system, which places the onus on a wearied public to complain.
The time to clean up advertising is now. The inquiry is expected to make its recommendations to the Attorney-General in June.
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