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Latest News

UK report on the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood.

7th of June 2011, 12:39 am

Kids Free 2B Kids welcomes the UK report of an Independent Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood titled: Letting Children be Children.

Read a summary here.

It should be said that the Australian Government was seen to be leading the way on this issue, when it held a senate inquiry into the sexualisation of children in the contemporary media environment back in June 2008.

But the UK has now left us in its tracks....

In Australia there has been little to zero action on the recommendations from the 2008 inquiry.

The review promised 18 months later has never happened.

Recommendations from the Australian inquiry stated that although sexualisation is a societal issue and we are all responsible, the onus must lay with industry - that is advertisers, marketers, retailers, broadcasters...

In that time there has been absolutely no indication of proactive responsibility from industry.

We note UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the Children's Minister will invite "a wide range of businesses and regulators into Downing Street in October and ask them to report on steps they have taken to address the issues raised in this report".

We challenge the Australian Government to do the the very least hold the promised review!

Furthermore, we challenge the Australian Government to pay heed to the increasing research and major concerns expressed by child psychiatrists and child psychologists.

We caution the UK to ensure the planned 'stock-take' in 18 months time' actually happens.

Enough reports..enough recommendations...enough finger wagging at the industry...time for action!!


Supre sending the wrong message to young girls...again!

27th of May 2011, 12:48 pm

Below is the complaint letter I sent to Supre today after being contacted by teenage girls concerned about the message their latest tv ad was sending.

When I googled information about Supre it says ' It is family-owned and operated by Hans and Helen van der Meulen, and their three daughters."

If this is the case - they should know better!

If Hans and Helens 'three daughters' are now adults - they should consider how fortunate their daughters were to grow up without the barrage of sexualised and objectified messages young girls cop today.           

See the ad here.

Send your complaint to Supre here.

Complain to the Advertising Standards Board here. (Free TV make it too complicated!)

To the CEO,

Given that your target market is young to mid teen girls surely it's time that you paid attention to the  research and concerns expressed by leading child psychologists.

The current advertisement on TV might look like a bit of fun to your marketing team  - but it is contributing to the continuing onslaught of harmful messages being sent to young girls.

ie: Their value comes from how 'thin, hot and sexy' they are.

Teenage girls alerted me to the ad shown on afternoon television and they were upset at the what message it was sending them and the younger girls watching.

Teenagers are currently experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, body image issue and eating disorders - and to this you are contributing.

The recent ad on trams featuring a topless model wearing jeggings is more of the same.

As were the slogans on your t-shirts last year which read -   'Santa's Bitch', Pussy Power' & 'North Pole Dancer.'

Kids Free 2B Kids urges you to care more about your target audience and treat them with the respect and care they deserve.

Proactive action would be a responsible move.

I await your response.

Julie Gale   


kids Free 2B Kids


 Here's the KF2BK complaint to the Advertising Standards Board.

Supre are contributing to the usual message young girls are bombarded with  - that their value and currency comes from how 'thin, hot and sexy' they are.

I was alerted to the ad by teenage girls who were concerned about body image and eating disorders and how the ad contributed to these anxieties. This ad features a stick thin model and features sexualised images of her backside. It might look like 'a bit of fun' - but these messages are harmful and are impacting on the mental health and wellbeing of this generation of young girls.
Supres target audience is young to mid teen girls - it's about time industry took some proactive responsibility for the messages they are sending.

I would assert, as usual, that this ad would not contravene any of the current voluntary code of ethics - and would be most surprised if complaints were upheld...but here's a suggestion....It's time to get with the research and concern from the child psychiatric and child psychology world!!!


Disappointing hidden agenda in article on Child Beauty Pagaents.

23rd of May 2011, 12:06 am

Read here an article about Child Beauty Pageants by Leslie Cannold.

I am disappointed by Leslie Cannolds article.

There are a number of comments that create a divisive straw man argument.
I have been speaking out about the issue of sexualisation for nearly five years now, and I thought we had put to bed the tiresome and tedious stories  about 'Christians', hysteria and 'hyperbole'.

This reeks of the same 'moral panic' arguments thrown about by a few ill-informed media academics in the early days of campaigning.

Increasing research and concern from leading child development professionals who work at the coal face with kids, informs us that sexualisation is a serious issue about the mental health and wellbeing of children.
We know that a focus on appearance from an early age can lead to anxiety , depression, body image problems and eating disorders.(APA and Tiggeman)

I include child beauty pageants as just one off shoot of the wider cultural issue of sexualisation.
In 2008 Dr Michael Carr Gregg, Dr Joe Tucci (The Australian Childhood Foundation) and Kids Free 2B Kids called for a ban on child beauty pageants.

It is disturbing to read Cannolds stab at psychologists and my guess is - a  very personal
attack on an outspoken campaigner on this issue, who I have worked with many times.

It's difficult to discern what she means by separating the 'hyperbolic wheat from the chaff'.

Who exactly is hyperbolic??

As the Director of Kids Free 2B kids, I have spoken on the same platform as people from different religious, non-religious, political and professional backgrounds.   

In all my years of campaigning I have never come across the so called 'rapacious desire of evangelical Christians to have influence over other people's children'.
I have certainly met with people from a cross section of the community who are deeply concerned about the shrinking of childhood and the adult sexualised culture children are exposed to.

I have been invited to speak about this issue by the Australian Federal Police, The Victorian Law Institute, Universities, School communities and Health Conferences across Australia and internationally.

Kids Free 2B Kids is not associated with any political or religious group -  but has no problem presenting the issue alongside or to, any religious or political group.

As stated in the 2008 Senate Inquiry into the Sexualisation of Children: "This is a community responsibility which demands action by society."

Society.  Surely that means 'everyone.'

I have presented with an array of colleagues who are working hard to help create change for children and quite frankly I have never come across any "religious pseudo-feminists (who) rhapsodise about lost childhood innocence."

I find this comment insulting to the many people speaking out about this issue...who are in fact contributing greatly to change a culture that sexualises and adultifies young girls and boys.   

Leslie Cannold rightly criticises so called 'mummy wars', but it looks like she is caught up in her own one- sided war.

I support anyone, no matter what their personal or political interest is, who has the tenacity and courage to keep speaking out about an issue that is impacting on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young teens...and that includes Child Beauty Pageants.

Let's keep the focus on the aim.

Julie Gale.


General Pants Co irresponsible advertising contributes to sexualisation.

11th of May 2011, 12:58 pm

There has been a lot of recent press about General Pants Co stores advertisement featuring a sexualised & objectified image of a women....and their 'I LOVE SEX'  ('and fashion' in small print) badges for staff to wear.     

Read more here at ABC Unleashed.

Kids Free 2B Kids also wrote to General Pants Co. Below is the chain of emails. __________________________________________________________________________________

To the CEO Craig King and Ksubi's communications manager, Gina Nixon.

I am not sure where your marketing team has been the past few years.

Your 'sex' campaign totally ignores research and major concerns in the child development world regarding  the harmful impacts on children from being involuntarily exposed to adult sexualised imagery.

It is extraordinarily unethical marketing to intentionally produce advertising that
sexualises and objectifies the female body and to which children will be exposed.

The campaign is 'fun, modern, cheeky and humorous' for who exactly?

Young men who are force fed a diet of objectified images of women?

This ad campaign is irresponsible and contributes to the sexualisation of children.

FYI here is recommendation no 1 from the2008 senate inquiry into the sexualisation of


1.12 The committee considers that the inappropriate sexualisation of children in Australia is of increasing concern.

While noting the complexity of defining clear boundaries around this issue, the committee believes that preventing the premature sexualisation of children is a significant cultural challenge.

This is a community responsibility which demands action by society.

In particular, the onus is on broadcasters, publishers, advertisers, retailers and manufacturers to take account of these community concerns.

* In particular, the onus is on broadcasters, publishers, advertisers, retailers and manufacturers to take account of these community concerns.

Your campaign is a cheap shot at drumming up publicity.  Bear in mind, it is the continuous onslaught of sexualised images kids are bombarded with that is causing harmful impacts...and to that, you have contributed.

Julie Gale


Kids Free 2B kids


Reply: NB A format letter sent to others.

From: Danielle On Behalf Of Editor

Sent: Tuesday, 10 May 2011 11:18 AM


Subject: RE: General Enquiry from the General Pants Web site: Julie Gale

Hi Julie,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us with your feedback about our recent
Ksubi Sex and Fashion campaign.   

We would like you to know we have read your thoughts and comments and take it on board as we do with all customer and community responses to our marketing campaigns or activities, stores and service.

Although certain details haven't been accurately represented in the press we would like to inform you that this current campaign ceases this Thursday 12th May and will be replaced with our "winter jackets" window in stores and also across our online channels.

Thank you again,

The team at General Pants Co.


Hi Danielle,

While I appreciate your email, it is important to Kids Free 2B Kids, that there is an acknowledgment by the company of the concerns raised in my email.

One of the details that I notice hasn't  'been accurately represented in the press' is that your company placed the word 'censored' over the advertisement - when in fact, it was placed on the window in front of the advert - leaving the highly objectified and sexualised image visible.

This recalcitrant behaviour shows a blatant disregard to child development experts and others concerned about the sexualisation of children and the impact of sexualised imagery in public spaces.

Your company have been made aware  that the image used in your campaign would not be acceptable in the 'workplace' and yet the image remained.

Informing me that the 'current campaign ceases this Thursday 12th May' signals just that - the end of the campaign - it does not show any regard for the harmful impacts or acknowledgement that your company has overstepped a line.

Encouraging your staff to wear 'I love sex' badges shows complete and utter ignorance of the enormous issues surrounding the sexualisation of children and young teenagers today. It truly belies belief.

Your marketing manager ought to spend some time at the coal face working with the likes of Dr Joe Tucci from The Australian Childhood Foundation.

Sitting in ivory towers coming up with so called 'fun, modern and cheeky' campaigns with no regard whatsoever to the impact is one of the very reasons the industry needs to be regulated.

When profiteering and exploitation of staff are prioritised ahead of care and wellbeing - it is very clear there are no protocols in place.

I await acknowledgement of the issues raised in my email.


Julie Gale


Kids Free 2B Kids


The reply is reminiscent of Witchery and Roger David stores who continue to refuse to openly take responsibility for their irresponsibile advertising.

 Send your complaint to General pants Co here.




Leading psychologists call for ban on beauty pageants for under 14 yrs..

27th of March 2011, 1:56 pm
The Herald Sun has reported a US children's beauty pageant that features on controversial TV show 'Toddlers and Tiaras' is coming to Melbourne.  

There is longstanding and overwhelming opinion in the psychology field that beauty pageants are not in the best interest of healthy child development.

In 2008 psychologist Dr Michael Carr Gregg, Dr Joe Tucci (Australia Childhood Foundation) and Kids Free 2B Kids called for a ban on beauty pageants for children under 14 years.

At the time, Early Childhood Minister Maxine Morand said beauty pageants were 'inappropriate & sent the wrong message' but 'resisted calls to ban them'. Opposition Children and Early Childhood Development spokeswoman Wendy Lovell said she  did not oppose innocent toddler pageants if children were not exploited or sexualised. She said it was a common sense issue and up to parents to decide what was appropriate.

kF2BK believes it is not a 'common sense issue' when child development professionals express major concern and go so far as to call for a ban.

Kids Free 2B Kids believe early childhood ministers should  pay attention to child development experts who prioritise children's best interests  and not  pageant organisers and ego driven parents who have vested interests.

Please sign the petition set up by Collective Shout called  Stop US Child Beauty Pageants in Australia. 

You can also visit the  Australians against child beauty pageants facebook page.


Still no word from Witchery.

15th of March 2011, 11:08 am

Witchery sent this message to a customer who complained about their adultified images of children in the latest catalogue. (For more information about catalogue scroll to previous post)

Witchery is disappointed to learn of your concerns surrounding our WitcheryKids imagery. We take the feedback of our customers very seriously so we thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

Witchery does not support the "adultification" of children and rejects any suggestion that we would intentionally convey children in this light.

The intention of our current campaign was to portray kids with confidence and individuality which is consistent across our brand vision and product range.

The children featured in the WitcheryKids campaign were able to choose poses on their own accord and were not forced to hold positions that were not natural to them.

All contracts for the models appearing in our campaign were approved through the NSW Children's Guardian, Authority number 00899. The NSW Children's Guardian is a government department set up to promote the best interests and rights of children in out-of-home-care in New South Wales.

The parents or guardians of the children were present at all times during the photo shoot.  

Please ensure your feedback will be taken on board for future campaigns.  

Kind regards,


Witchery Online Customer Service

Last Friday KF2BK Director Julie Gale emailed Witchery this message:  


Attention Customer Service

To whom it may concern, 

 As the Director of Kids Free 2B Kids I have been inundated with emails from people concerned about the way you have portrayed children in your catalogues.

I notice that complaints were also posted on the Witchery Kids facebook page prior to the article in the Herald Sun this past Monday. I notice the comments page remains disabled.

A person unknown to me emailed your reply  this afternoon. It is easy to reject the notion that you 'intentionally' conveyed children in an adultified way.

Whilst that may be true, it is extraordinary, given the reaction from child advocates and child developmental professionals to your previous catalogue. I also think it's extraordinary that you state the children chose the poses without direction. In my experience photo shoots are highly controlled and managed to the finest detail.

I am fully aware of the role of the NSW Children's Guardian. Kids Free 2B Kids placed an FOI application in 2008 to better understand the process involving children and advertising at the government department. It was revealed that Saatchi and Saatchi (for David Jones) gave the photo shoot directive "They are 10-12years, so slightly more adult and sexy".

That directive passed through the NSW Children's Guardian.

The directive also stated: 'This is a branding exercise for DJ's where we must communicate aspirational kids fashion.

 Last year when Cotton On came under fire for its adult sexualised slogans on children's wear - there was a lot of initial resistance. The CEO eventually called a meeting with me and then invited me to Geelong to meet with the National Clothes buyer.

They understood, after a lot of outcry from the community that they had crossed a line - even tho they were aiming for 'edgy and humorous'. They also withdrew 40,000 items of clothing from their stores Australia wide and put in place protocol that did not previously exist.

Whilst they were initially re-acting - I appreciated their willingness to listen and learn and ultimately take proactive responsibility.

My invitation to the Witchery CEO is to make contact with myself or Dr Michael Carr Gregg to hear the concerns of child development professionals and learn about latest research.


Julie Gale

Director kids Free 2B Kids

KF2BK is committed to creating standards of responsible advertising and merchandise sensitive to the impacts on children. 

To contact Witchery email 

Witchery puts profits ahead of expert advice.

8th of March 2011, 9:10 am

This article appeared in the Herald Sun today March 8 2011

 A POPULAR clothing chain is facing a people's revolt over its persistent use of sulky, "adultified" images of children in advertising.

WitcheryKids has sparked outrage for the second time in five months, after rolling out another campaign featuring brooding children posed and styled like adults.

In its latest Style Recruits campaign, unsmiling children aged 5-8 are pictured against a drab streetscape, decked out in combat-style garb, knee-high socks and short skirts, and leopard print.

A similar photo shoot by the chain last year attracted controversy across the globe, with a former Play School presenter calling it offensive and dangerous.

The company says it wants to portray "confidence" and individuality. The children were not forced into poses and parents or guardians were present during the shoot.

But child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg is calling for parents to boycott and picket the stores.

 "They have been previously warned about this adultification, so now the gloves are coming off," Dr Carr-Gregg said.

 "This is an attempt by Witchery to cement in our culture that children can be miniature adults and fashion accessories."

 He said it could contribute to "appearance anxiety" plaguing people's childhood and adolescence.

 Kids Free to Be Kids director Julie Gale backed his call, and has complained to the company.

 "I am astonished that your company did not heed the concerns expressed by child development professionals about the way children were depicted in your last catalogue," Ms Gale's letter reads.

"Children do not develop healthy self-esteem if they are encouraged to focus on how they look or what clothes they are wearing."

 A Witchery spokeswoman said, "Witchery does not support the 'adultification' of children and rejects any suggestion that we would intentionally convey children in this light".

 Two complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau, based on concerns the last campaign was "sexualising" children, were dismissed. ________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Kids Free 2B Kids wants WitcheryKids to take proactive responsibility and meet with child development professionals and become educated on where and why they are going wrong with the way they are depicting children.

The aim is for their marketing to  reflect current research and views about child development.

Complaints about their previous catalogue made to the Advertising Standards Board were dismissed.

This is not at all surprising as the AANA code of ethics have absolutely NO guidelines that would cover this issue.

The Advertising Standards Board do not and have never consulted with child Development Experts in the complaints process.

This was made clear in the 2008 senate inquiry in to the sexualisation of children - and child advocates have  consistently called for the system to change.

So it looks like Witchery have stuck with its current marketing strategy based on the fact that the ASB dismissed complaints and not the fact that child development experts find it problematic and irresponsible.   

The ASB  admitted recently though its own  internal research that it has been out of touch with community standards.

 If the decision makers within a voluntary, self regulated system, are not up with latest research -or do not consult with those who are -  then we have a problem.  

To contact Witchery email



Very interesting to see that Witchery has disabled comments from their WitcheryKids facebook page today. Too much negative feedback perhaps?   

We took a screen shot of some of the comments that were posted before the Herald Sun article was published. Read on....

 Jessica - I love the range but I feel like I'm looking at little adults in these pictures, not kids at all! March 3 at 7:01pm

Sarah - I find the images of kids in military style clothing disconcerting and concerning ... This is not a range that supports the innocence and beauty of youth. I will not be buying any of this range. March 3 at 7:28pm

Allannah - I agree with Sarah - while there are some nice clothes in this range, this styling is far to 'adult'. Beautiful little Jasmine looks like she has been styled for women's magazine - when she is 5 YEARS OLD. It is very disappointing to see such images when all these gorgeous children could have been photographed to look exactly that - CHILDREN and have still shown off the clothes. March 3 at 8:36pm

 Jen - Are these children? The poses are not natural and my children would certainly not pout and try to look sexy like the girls used here....yuck it is grotesque.... Further what child needs an embellished jumper or aviator suit.... March 4 at 7:10am

WitcheryKids - Thank you for all your feedback. The intention of our campaign was to portray kids with confidence, individuality and with a fashion attitude; this is consistent across our brand vision, product range and numerous activities we have held specifically for kids. Overwhelmingly, the majority of feedback we have received regarding our campaign and product range has been very positive. We apologise to those who have misinterpreted the intention of the campaign and will take the feedback on board for future campaigns. March 4 at 9:45am

Melanie - Ditto to most of these ladies comments, when I saw this range yesterday I was a bit shocked & concerned...I have been a fan of your range until now and I hope this is not a sign of things to come. I want my son & daughter to look cute ,not 20 years old with a "fashion attitude". Please bring back the fun kids fashion you do best... March 4 at 10:14am

Sooz - The photos do depict the kids as mini adults, which seems to be what some parents want these days (Bardot kids range is very mini adult). Whilst I won't have my 5 year old daughter look like she's 18+ (kids have enough exposure to provocative-looking Bratz/Barbies and pop stars to need any more encouragement), I will be buying some of the individual pieces, as there are some very cute things in the range too! Great designs, just please tone down the 'poses/photography' maybe? March 4 at 10:50am 

 Jessica - Thanks for taking on our feedback Witchery, great to know you are hearing your customers and fans!For me it's not so much the range that I have an issue with as it is the kids poses, which mimic those seen in adult fashion mags. March 4 at 10:52am  

Jen - We have not misinterpreted your vision, it is just inappropriate sexualization of a child.....dislike button. March 4 at 8:24pm




Computer games: call them AO or R18+, it won't help protect our kids.

6th of December 2010, 5:07 pm

Kids Free 2B Kids supports the view of The Australian Council on Children and the Media regarding R18+ computer games.

ACCM press release 5/12/10:

Computer games: call them AO or R18+, it won't help protect our kids.

The Australian Council on Children and Media is strongly critical of the Federal Government's support for the legalisation of R18+ level computer games.

Council President Prof Elizabeth Handsley said today that it was evident many of the public rightly wanted greater protections for children from the impacts of very violent computer games. However, she said "The public have been misled as to what it means to create an R18+ classification for games. Doing so is not the answer to children's need for greater protection". 

She said, "The real problem lies with levels of strong violence allowed in the MA15+ category.  There has been a widespread belief that somehow, the more violent games presently in the MA15+ category will migrate to a new R18+ classification. But no convincing evidence has been put forward to support these claims."

She continued "The addition of a higher classification will not change the classification of material into MA15+. If some very violent games meet MA15+ now, they will do so in the future, unless the whole classification system is reviewed, and the criteria and guidelines changes for all levels. There have been no proposals on the table for these kinds of changes. But without them, adding even higher-impact violence to the sale and hire system via the legalisation of R18+ level games will increase, not decrease, parents' difficulties in preventing their children's access to very violent games."

The Council is also critical of the reliance by the Minister on the results of two recent surveys.. Prof Handsley said "The Literature Review prepared by the Minister's Department chose to downplay the results of research showing harmful effects of violent media, while emphasising the claim that there is widespread confusion about the interpretation of the vast literature on media violence. This is in strong contrast to the recent statement on video game violence presented to the US Supreme Court, prepared  by 13 internationally recognised and reputable international scholars and supported by close to 100 researchers in countries from Spain to Australia."

Further, she said, "The telephone survey relied on by the Minister found the majority of respondents agreed it would be difficult for parents to stop children playing R18+ games, that these should be classified differently because you play, not watch, and that playing violent games results in real life violence.  Many who hold such views have been misled into thinking that an R18+ is the answer."      

"The State and Territory Ministers meeting to discuss these issues on Friday need to consider carefully whether it is really possible to protect children, while serving an adult civil liberties agenda."


The Australian Council on Children and the Media is a national not for profit community organisation whose mission is to support families, industry and decision makers in building and maintaining a media environment that fosters the health,safety and wellbeing of Australian children.

ACCM memo sent to the AG's 6/12/10


On Dec 5, the Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, stated that the Federal Govt will support the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games, at the Dec 10 meeting of SCAG.  (Min. H A&J Media release 5 December 2010).  

The Minister claims this will help protect our kids. It will not.

The arguments he gives for his support of an R18+ can be summarised thus:  

1) it will provide better guidance for parents

2) it will remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers: children and teenagers should not be exposed to the gratuitous sex, violence and adult themes in some computer games

3) some games classified MA15+ now are classified for adults only overseas 

4) if R18+ is introduced it could [our italics] result in games now MA15+ being reclassified 

5) the arguments for an R18+ have been backed up by research recently released (an AG's Department Literature Review; a telephone poll) plus submissions to the late 2009 Govt Inquiry). 

The ACCM argues that these are unsubstantiated claims that are misleading.   Our commentary follows: 

1) Labelling games R18+ provides better guidance for parents: 

An R18+ classification is a strong signal of material unsuitable for minors. But, the benefit of this will be marginal compared to the challenges faced by parents in preventing their children's access to inappropriate material be it MA15+ or R18+.  The Minister seems to be saying that parents don't have enough knowledge about the classification system to recognise MA15+ which also has legal force.  The answer to that is better consumer education, not using the sledgehammer of R18+ to get the message across. 

2) remove unsuitable games from children and teenagers:

Children's current access to unsuitable material results from a combination of a lack of public education about the legally restricted nature of MA15+, and the criteria that allow strong violence at the M and MA15+ levels. Adding R18+ into the mix is not the answer to this. The answer is to review all the classification criteria.

3)  Some games now MA15+  here are classified for adults overseas. 

There has been no reliable research done on whether this is due to the absence of R18+ in Australia, or due to cultural and classification criteria differences between countries. Criteria allowing strong violence justified by context at MA15+, and higher impact if stylised are not replicated in all countries. Once again, if the MA15+ criteria give adolescents access to inappropriate material, the answer is to review our criteria, not add another higher level of violence via R18+.

4)  If R18+ is available, some games now MA15+ "could" be reclassified

This will be true only if the criteria for MA15+ are revised to be more restrictive. Games now MA15+ are there because they meet the present MA15+ criteria, and new games that meet those same criteria will be MA15+. The reclassification of games is not an automatic consequence of legalising R18+ games, and there is no current proposal for how this could be achieved.

5) The arguments for R18+ have been backed up by recent research, and findings of 2009 Inquiry 

The Minister quotes large percentages who support an R18+ for games. He places great reliance on the results of two recent surveys- a Literature Review carried out by officers of his department and a phone survey. Psychologists who work in this field have commented "The Literature Review prepared by the Minister's Department chose to downplay the results of research showing harmful effects of violent media, while emphasising the claim that there is widespread confusion about the interpretation of the vast literature on media violence. This is in strong contrast to the recent statement on video game violence presented to the US Supreme Court, prepared  by 13 internationally recognised and reputable international scholars and supported by close to 100 researchers in countries from Spain to Australia."

The telephone survey relied on by the Minister actually found the majority of respondents agreed it would be difficult for parents to stop children playing R18+ games; that these should be classified differently because you play, not watch; and that playing violent games results in real life violence. The context of the other survey questions about whether there should be an R18+ appears conducive to respondents supporting its introduction because they have been misled into thinking that introducing R18+ was going to move very violent games out of MA15+.

The outcome of the 2009 Inquiry into whether there should be an R18+ classification was certainly skewed by the weight of very brief responses in the affirmative from the gaming lobby. However, detailed submissions to the Inquiry were almost 50-50 for and against  the proposal, with gamers and industry on one side, and the rest of the community predominantly on the other.


The proposal for R18+ has been advanced principally by arguing that it would provide  greater protection for children.  This argument does not stand up.

A more honest argument would be based on the principle of adult freedom to see hear and read what they want. Gamers want access to more extreme content.

These principles are both part of the Classification Code, which strives to maintain a balance between them. Adding R18+ will not improve the balance.

The State and Territory Ministers meeting to discuss these issues on Friday need to consider carefully whether it is really possible to advance the protection of children, while advancing an adult civil liberties agenda.   


Teenage Girls More Sexually Active Than A Decade Ago.

13th of October 2010, 11:03 pm

Mark Metherell

Sydney Morning Herald - October 6, 2010

Year 12 girls are more likely to have had sex than boys, and teenagers are likely to have had sex with more partners than a decade ago, a national survey has shown.

More than 61 per cent of year 12 girls said they had had sex, compared to 44 per cent of boys of that year, the study by LaTrobe University's faculty of health sciences researchers found.

In a trend the report links to heavier drinking by adolescents, the proportion of sexually active year 12 girls who reported having had sex with three or more partners in the previous year more than doubled to 27 per cent in the decade to 2008. Among boys, 38 per cent said they had had three or more sexual partners in the year.

The survey of 8800 year 10 and year 12 students in 300 schools around Australia was taken in three snapshots between 1997 and 2008.

The proportion of year 10 boys who had had sex rose slightly from 23 per cent to 27 per cent between 1997 and 2008, while for year 10 girls the rise was more significant, up from 16 per cent to 27 per cent.

In year 12, the number of boys who reported having had sex dipped slightly from 47 per cent in 1997 to 44 per cent in 2008, while the rate for girls rose from 48 per cent to 61 per cent.

The report, published in the latest Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, said the increased numbers of students having multiple sexual partners was significantly higher than that found in a large survey in the US and may be linked to heavier drinking among Australian teenagers.

''In Australia, rates of alcohol consumption among secondary students have increased markedly, as has the proportion of young people engaging in sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs - these factors may be associated with the increases observed in sexual activity here,'' the report says.

The report said that given the increases in sexual activity and still moderate levels of knowledge about sexually transmitted infections among young people, it was ''of some concern'' that the levels of safe sex practised by adolescents had not increased in Australia since 1997.

It was significant that year 10 students showed lower levels of knowledge about STIs than those in year 12, even though they had comparable rates of sexual partnerships to year 12 students.

Psychologist Dr Michael Carr Gregg speaks out on Secondary Supply alcohol laws.

12th of October 2010, 12:00 pm
Psychologist Dr Michael Carr Gregg recently gave a speech at Melbourne High School calling on the Victorian Premier to take action on the issue of secondary supply of alcohol...

Here are some of the points he raised:

"Secondary supply" generally refers to the sale or supply of alcohol to people under the age of 18 years (minors) by adults or other minors. It is illegal under licensing law in all jurisdictions for licensed premises in Victoria to serve minors and for adults to purchase alcohol on behalf of minors. However, the situation in private homes and at private functions is less clear. Currently in Victoria it is not illegal for adults to provide alcohol to minors in a private residence, even if the minors are not their own children.

"Secondary supply" refers to this situation: the supply of alcohol to minors in private homes, potentially by adults other than their parents.

The reason why this "secondary supply" is so important is that this is the main way that minors obtain their alcohol. Almost 40% of under-age drinkers get their supply of alcohol from their parents, and only 5% buy it themselves. The new draft National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) guidelines recommend that "not drinking is the safest option for 15-17 year olds" and children under 15 should not drink any alcohol. In Victoria, and most other Australian states, there are no laws prohibiting the serving of alcohol to minors in private homes.

Traditionally, it has been considered the right of parents to decide when and how their children first try alcohol. The "Mediterranean model" of introducing alcohol to young people, where they are gradually allowed to drink small amounts in the presence of their parents, has been popular with many parents. However, the concerning levels of binge and under-age drinking in Australia suggests that this has not worked. Loopholes in the current Victorian laws allow adults other than a child's parents to provide them with alcohol without the parents' consent if in a private residence. Regulating secondary supply aims to prevent this happening by providing a deterrent for adults to supply alcohol, and to support families affected by providing a legal course of action for them to pursue if appropriate.

Although there is no Victorian law relating specifically to the supply of alcohol to minors in a private home, there are several laws in Victoria that make it illegal to purchase alcohol for someone who is aged under 18 and to serve alcohol to minors on licensed premises. A person aged 18 or older who buys or supplies alcohol for an under-age person can face an on-the-spot fine of more than $600 (and the under-age person for whom the alcohol is bought can be fined $50).

Why is it that Qld and Tasmania both changed the law last year to prevent minors being given alcohol by an adult other than their parents (or equivalents) but Victoria refuses to offer that protection?

This means that half of all adolescents in Australia (in NSW, Tasmania and Qld) get that protection, but anyone in Victoria can give any child of any age any amount of alcohol and is exempt from the law.

What is Victoria waiting for?  Adults in those states are already being prosecuted under these laws.

Kids Free 2B Kids supports  the introduction of Secondary Supply laws in all states and territories.

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