UK Government

Home Office: Review into sexualisation of young people published

Press Release   •   Feb 26, 2010 10:27 GMT

An independent review into the sexualisation of young people, conducted by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, was welcomed by Home Secretary Alan Johnson today.

Commissioned by the Home Office, the review forms part of the government’s strategy to tackle ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ (VAWG) and looks at how sexualised images and messages may be affecting the development of children and young people and influencing cultural norms. It also examines the evidence for a link between sexualisation and violence.

Key recommendations include:
• the government to launch an online ‘one-stop-shop’ to allow the public to voice their concerns regarding irresponsible marketing which sexualises children, with an onus on regulatory authorities to take action. The website could help inform future government policy by giving parents a forum to raise issues of concern regarding the sexualisation of young people;

• the government should support the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) to take steps to extend the existing regulatory standards to include commercial websites;

• broadcasters are required to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics are broadcast only after the ‘watershed’;

• the government to support the NSPCC in its work with manufacturers and retailers to encourage corporate responsibility with regard to sexualised merchandise. Guidelines should be issued for retailers following consultation with major clothing retailers and parents’ groups; and

• games consoles should be sold with parental controls already switched on. Purchasers can choose to ‘unlock’ the console if they wish to allow access to adult and online content.

Dr Papadopoulos has worked closely with the Home Office in developing the current national awareness campaign targeting violence within teenagers' relationships. A pack for teachers and pupils to accompany the campaign will shortly be made available to all schools. The government is also committed to introducing the subject of violence against women and girls and gender equality into the national curriculum, both of which are recommendations outlined in this review. The full list of recommendations will now be considered in more detail.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:
“We know that parents are concerned about the pressures their children are under at a much younger age, which is why we have already committed to a number of the recommendations in this report.

“Changing attitudes will take time but it is essential if we are going to stop the sexualisation which contributes to violence against women and girls.

"I would like to thank Dr Linda Papadopoulos for producing this review, with recommendations which will contribute to the ongoing debate around this complex issue.

"We will now consider the full list of recommendations in more detail and continue to ensure that young people’s development and well-being are a top priority."

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos said:

"As a psychologist and as a parent, I welcomed the opportunity to take a critical look at the sexualisation of young people.

"Over the past few months I have spoken to many people including young people, parents, teachers and professionals and it is clear to me that this is a very emotive issue.  

"I wanted to ensure that this was not an opinion piece, but a review based on real data and academic research which will help generate further debate and inform decisions about how to address these issues going forward."

Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan said:

"Children today are growing up in a complex and changing world and they need to learn how to stay safe and resist inappropriate pressures. That is why we are making Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory so that we can teach children about the real life issues they will face as they grow up.

"PSHE already includes teaching about advertising and body image and from 2011 will include issues around violence against women and girls. The PSHE curriculum is age appropriate to give children and young people the right information at the right time to help them make the best choices and to develop their confidence.   

"W are supporting schools with new guidance to help raise awareness among teachers about violence against women and girls, so that they can prevent and respond to these issues, and to show them how to address it in the curriculum.

"We have also recently launched a new campaign Click Clever Click Safe to help children and young people understand some of the risks they are exposed to when they go online. This will give parents the confidence to help their children enjoy the internet safely."

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The review will be available from 0001 on Friday 26 February at:  http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/. For an embargoed PDF copy please call the Home Office newsdesk on 020  7035 3535.

2. The 'Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls' strategy can be found at:  http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/vawg-strategy-2009/index.html. The strategy is a coordinated approach to combat all forms of violence against women and girls and support its victims. It sets out actions for stakeholders including police, local authorities and government departments across three key areas: Prevention, Provision and Protection. Key actions include:

• more than £13 million of funding to help support victims of sexual and domestic violence;

• development of a national communications strategy designed to address attitudes towards VAWG among all members of the public;

• increased investment delivering a four-fold increase in Family Intervention Projects to support 10,000 families a year;

• the Training and Development Agency for Schools will address violence against women in the review of professional standards for teachers in 2010, to help ensure teachers have the skills they need to tackle violence against women and girls;

• development of a dedicated stalking and harassment helpline so emerging violence can be nipped in the bud;

• development of a series of short films on violence against women and girls for patients on the NHS Choices website to supplement existing material on recognising domestic violence and seeking support;

• a new online directory of services for victims of violence against women and funding for new 24-hour sexual violence helpline;

• the piloting of Domestic Violence Protection Orders – or ‘Go’ orders - to exclude perpetrators from their homes and give victims space to apply for longer-term protection; and

• a Health Taskforce examining the role of the NHS in response to victims of violence against women and girls will publish recommendations in March 2010

3. Dr Linda Papadopoulos is a well-known psychologist and media expert in the field of women and girls’ self-image. Her academic credentials include a PhD in psychology (City University), an MSc in Health Psychology (University of Surrey) and she has been a reader in psychology since 2001. Dr Papadopoulos is also a practising clinician who has worked in various treatment settings both privately and in the National Health Service.

Her clinical interests focus on body image and self-esteem, eating disorders and facial disfigurement. The intention of the review is to contribute to a wider debate with the public about the risk to children’s developmental well-being, and the risk posed by others to children, through the sexualisation process.

4. To arrange an interview with Dr Linda Papadopoulos please contact: Lizzie Barroll-Brown on 020 7436 6400.

Contacts

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