A sociological analysis of child sexualisation in the media: attitudes, perceptions and implications.
(2016) A sociological analysis of child sexualisation in the media: attitudes, perceptions and implications., no. 79.
This dissertation explores the attitudes and perceptions of media portrayals of child sexualisation amongst a small sample of parents and key influencers. Data was collected from a focus group and individual interviews with four females and four males, who were either parents or key influencers. The focus group method was utilised when interviewing the female participants, and the males were interviewed individually. To be considered a key influencer, participants were required to be a family member or engage with children within a professional capacity e.g. a teacher or a coach. The proliferation of the internet and social media may have resulted in an increasing visibility of the sexualisation of children. By increasing the presence of sexualised content, all media, such as social and print media, video games, celebrity culture and music are all deemed culpable in placing childhood innocence at risk (Faulkner, 2010). Such risks are articulated in previous research which explores the internalisation of sexualised imagery by children, the role of technology and social media, celebrity culture in the lives of children and consumerism of childhood (Temple-Smith, 2016., Edwards, 2011., Walker, 2010., Coy, 2009., Reist, 2008., Maltby et al, 2005). This dissertation project supports the findings of previous academic literature noting that parents and key influencers who participated were very clear that the media are complicit in the perpetuation of the sexualisation of children. The parents and key influencers were also very clear that the media had exploited their extensive reach and influence by placing childhood innocence at risk through the perpetuation of a consumerist culture which sexualises childhood. The impact on children, as evidenced by the research participants, has been a loss of childhood innocence. The narratives provided by the participants highlighted four key factors for consideration when exploring child sexualisation, namely, the consumerism of childhood, technology and new media, peer pressure and the role of parents in terms of being responsible for the sexualisation of childhood, whilst at the same time being considered the only solution The overall findings suggest that society has become desensitised to child sexualisation, resulting in the creation of a new normality, leaving it to the parents and key influencers to navigate, educate and protect their children.