Kids' fashion trends concern child advocates
FORMER Play School presenter Noni Hazlehurst has hit out at a disturbing new trend by advertisers to "adultify" children.
The popular actor said retailers were entering dangerous territory by portraying children as pouting, high fashion "mini-me" adults.
In the most recent example, Witchery launched its new line for two to nine-year-olds featuring young, brooding children in adult attire and poses.
Kids Free 2B Kids has fired off an angry complaint to Witchery about its catalogue, saying it was "misguided".Read the full Herald Sun article here.
Kids Free 2B Kids Director Julie Gale sent this email to Witchery Kids 29/09/10
To the CEO and Product/Buying Manager,I am the Director of kids free 2B kids, an organisation which raises community, corporate and political awareness about the early sexualisation of children.
I am writing to express concerns that the images in your WitcheryKids catalogue are adultifying children.
Child development professionals are concerned that children are being catapulted out of early childhood into the teen years and are increasingly portrayed as ‘mini-me' adults.
While your philosophy states that ‘WitcheryKids is playful and real ‘-the images do not portray kids in a ‘playful' or ‘real' way....rather they are posed and styled as brooding precocious teenagers.
They are not smiling or joyful or having ‘fun' - which seems at odds with your belief that ‘fun and imagination are at the centre of every child's universe'.
Your philosophy states that your ranges reflect this fun - but your catalogue images certainly don't.
Your range is for 2-9 year olds and your philosophy says that ‘Witchery Kids is for kids who want and know how to choose clothes that express their personality and desire for independence.'
Latest research shows that younger children are experiencing increased body image problems, eating disorders, anxiety and depression as a result of pressure to grow up too quickly... and for obsessing about their appearance.
2-9 year olds should not be concerned about ‘growing up in style' - in fact they should not be concerned about growing up at all!
Nor should they be thinking that their ‘personality and desire for independence' comes from the clothes they wear.
It's a curious trend for children's fashion to be ‘inspired by up-to-the-minute adult trends and styled for the smaller set.'
What happened to kids clothing styled on ...kids?
It's one thing to create ‘adult trends styled for the smaller set' - but to actually portray the children as mini adults or older teens is extremely misguided.
Perhaps you have fallen for an ad agency spin?
Perhaps you have missed the increasing amount of publicity about parents objecting to kids being portrayed as adults?
If you want to understand more about this increasing problem, I would be happy to discuss the issue with you.
I recently spent time with the CEO and Product/Buying Manager of Cotton On Kids who crossed the line with their adult sexualised humour on children's wear, which was highly publicised earlier this year.
It is important for you to know that there is a strong public groundswell against the sexualisation and adultification of children.
Kids free 2B Kids calls for retailers to be proactively responsible about what they are selling and marketing to children and how they are portrayed.
I look forward to your response.
Free 2B Kids
Witchery Kids Philosophy:Witchery Kids is playful, candid and real. Our well-priced, seasonal collections for boys and girls aged 2-9 are inspired by up-to-the-minute adult trends and styled for the smaller set. We believe that fun and imagination are at the centre of every child's universe and our ranges reflect this. Confident and individual, Witchery Kids is for Kids who want and know how to choose clothes that express their personality and desire for independence. It's time to grow up in style
Example email received by Kids Free 2B Kids 1/10/10
WITCHERY KIDS! Disgraceful advertisement in the sep 2010 edition of the Melbourne Child pg 18. Shame on both of them! This advertisement should be removed immediately and formal apologies written by both Witchery and the Melbourne Child for supporting the sexualisation of children! I will never buy this brand of clothing again for either my children or myself and will cease the distribution of the Melbourne Child Magazine in my practice. Rebecca
Let your complaints be heard - speaking out helps raise awareness and create change!
Contact Witchery Kids - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonds withdraws girls bralette product
Kids Free 2B Kids has been campaigning about the marketing of bras and ‘bralettes' to little girls in sizes as small as 2 & 3 since early 2007.
This week, the group Collective Shout blogged about Bonds selling bras in girls in size 6.
(Bonds also came under fire in June this year for selling a padded bra in girls size 8.)
Read the Herald Sun article including comments by KF2BK director Julie Gale, social commentator Melinda Tankard Reist and leading child psychologist Michael Carr Gregg .
The same day Bonds announced it would withdraw all bra-like products in girls sizes 6 and 8 from the market, effective immediately, after consumer feedback.
It is good to see a major company like Bonds finally recognise these items are totally unnecessary and contribute to the adultification and sexualisation of little girls.
Let's hope other companies follow their lead.
Despite the positive reaction from Bonds, Kids Free 2B Kids would like to see proactive responsibility from industry.
Speaking out makes a difference and helps create change.
Lynx Stynks – Unilever stoops to new low.
Unilever has been criticised by many over the blatant hypocrisy of promoting self esteem to women and young girls on the one hand (Dove) but promoting women as sexual predators and sex objects on the other hand (Lynx/Axe).
Kids Free 2B Kids and US based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood campaigned about this hypocrisy back in 2007 and Unilever issued a Global Statement which included:
"The chosen vehicle for Axe/Lynx is a series of light-hearted and tongue-in-check adverts. They are all designed to be tongue-in-cheek propositions and are not meant to be taken seriously."
Sexual objectification of women is serious and should not be a 'vehicle' for light hearted or tongue in cheek adverts.
"In fact, we are recognized as being one of the most creative companies in the world in this respect and we are very careful to try to ensure that we do not offend."
‘Creative' ...maybe, but what about ethics and integrity!
If Unilever was truly committed to the welfare of young girls, women and young boys then Unilever would not blatantly sexualise and objectify females in their advertising and it would not be co-advertising with Playboy - one of the major brands of the pornography industry.
Here are excerpts from an email exchange with the Corporate Social Responsibility & Communications Manager at Unilever Australasia. Dated 26 October 2007
Thanks very much for your email...
You have raised some points that we within the organisation struggled with and which we have discussed at some length as a result of your letter...
However, I can certainly appreciate that although Lynx is not breaching any national advertising standards, these standards may not represent what other groups or individuals find acceptable. I also recognise that for them, this may not appear consistent with Unilever's position as an organisation committed to "the highest standards of corporate behaviour".
Your considered and balanced letter highlighting the apparent inconsistencies within our business has encouraged me to escalate your comments to the Global teams responsible for Dove and Lynx/Axe with a view to bringing the issue to a head at a senior level...
...as you have identified, there is a risk of inadvertent exposure to children of images such as those portrayed in the Lynx/Axe web sites. This is a matter that we have yet to fully consider, and I thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will be certain to raise it in my correspondence to the global brand teams, along with your comments.
I will also ensure that the AANA is made aware of the issue of inadvertent exposure of adult advertising to children.
Corporate Social Responsibility & Communications Manager
To read more about this issue and how Woolworths has got into bed with Unilever and the porn industry see Melinda Tankard Reists blog
Kids Free 2B Kids urge you to stop buying Lynx products.
The Australian Federal Police launch anti sexting educational video.
The Australian Federal Police have launched an anti sexting educational video warning teenagers of the risk of sending provocative images from their mobile phones. The video lasting nearly 2 minutes can be viewed here.
It ends with the tag line “Think you know what happens to your images, who will see them, how it will affect you. Think again.” The aim is to make young people aware that if they send an image it can end up anywhere.
The video is supported by Think U Know an Internet safety program delivering interactive training to parents, carers and teachers through primary and secondary schools across Australia.
Source: Generation Next Blog - article by Susan McLean Cyber Safety expert.
Stop sex trafficking of children & young people.
Childwise and The Bodyshop have formed an alliance to help raise awareness about sex trafficking of children & young people.
Please sign the petition at The Body Shop or online to encourage the Australian Government to fund programs to stop the demand and supply of child trafficking for sexual exploitation in our region.
Know the Facts. (from Childwise fact sheet)
- Human trafficking is the third largest organised crime in the world after illegal drugs and weapons.
- Over 2.5 million people are trafficked in the world each year, and 1.2 million are under the age of 18.
- Children and young people are abused, beaten, raped and repeatedly sold into prostitution against their will.
- Australians are responsible for feeding demand by accessing child pornography or travelling overseas to sexually abuse a child.
- Child sexual abuse is an Australian crime even if you are overseas. Penalties include up to 25 years imprisonment for child sex or child pornography offences and up to 10 years imprisonment for planning to commit a child sex offence overseas.
- Children (under 16 years old) can never consent to sexual exploitation. It is the responsibility of adults to protect them from abuse.
See more information at Childwise.
Naomi Wolf comments in The Sunday Age.
Something that has got "much worse" according to Wolf, is the influence of pornography, which "has become the air we breathe... it's definitely affecting young women and men's sexual development deeply, deeply, deeply."
Wolf, "a free speech absolutist", does not advocate censorship. In any case, she says, attempts to ban pornography wouldn't work. "It's like the military-industrial complex: so much money's being made that there's no way to stop it at the source. The best thing we can do is try to persuade young woman and men that it's not good for their self confidence, and they'll have better sex if they choose not to let this stuff shape their sense of sexuality."
Of course, that's an argument to be made to adults who consensually consume porn.
On the current Australian debate over the display of porn magazines in service stations and supermarkets, Wolf is unequivocal. "I think it's appropriate to keep pornography away from children. I don't think it's censorship to keep public space porn free - people still have a choice about when they want to consume it. I don't feel it's right to impose pornography on - people in the public sphere."
Extract from The Sunday Age article The Porn Myth by Emily McGuire. 3/5/10
Adelaide Seminar. Bratz, Britney and Bralettes: The Sexualisation of Childhood. Thursday May 13th.
Michael Carr-Gregg and others speak out!
The Australian Council on Children and the Media
Bratz, Britney and Bralettes: The sexualisation of childhood
Thursday 13 May 7:00 pm for 7:30 pm to 9:45pm
Helen Reid Hall, Walford Anglican School for Girls
316 Unley Road, Hyde Park, SA 5061
From tiny tots to late teens, girls are being preyed on and damaged by sexualisation and media messages about weight, looks, clothes and behaviour. The messages they are getting are wrong. And the harm is real, and not just to girls.
Come and hear some of Australia's best speakers on children and teens, the issues and protections.
v Michael Carr-Gregg, well known author and psychologist
v Julie Gale, founding Director of Kids Free 2B Kids
v Rita Princi, child psychologist
v Professor Elizabeth Handsley, Law, Flinders University
v Archbishop Jeffrey Driver, Anglican Diocese of Adelaide
The last Bratz, Britney and Bralettes seminar sold out early, so book now to secure your place.
For more information go to the ACCM website
Phone: 61 8 8376 2111
Protecting children must be the priority.
Read the article written by Julie Gale, Director of Kids Free 2B Kids on ABC The Drum Unleashed.
Gale says "It is a continual frustration that the media will not print examples of covers of pornographic material sold within view and access of children. (or examples of content and text in unsealed mags.) So, of course, my message is continually minimised in the process. And it means that many people understandably don't really get what the fuss is about.
One of the reasons BP, Mobil and Shell/Coles Express removed all category 1 restricted magazines from their company owned stores nationwide is because I sent them graphic (but pixilated) images of the covers, content and text in magazines they were selling. I also explained that many distributors were flouting the law, and this meant that unintentionally a lot of their stores were selling illegal content.
Removing ALL cat 1 nationwide. That is responsible action... not undertaken lightly and goes to show that providing examples made the issue very clear.
It's so ironic and hypocritical that the material is deemed ok to be displayed in front of kids - but definitely far too inappropriate for the media to show.
I understand it is a tough call from the media perspective - but so frustrating for those of us who are just wanting to show it how it is."
Kids Free 2B Kids encourages you to support an Australian online petition called Say No 4 Kids aimed at getting pornographic magazines away from childrens access and view.
Put soft porn out of view say experts
Monday 5th April
The articles in today’s Age and SMH newspapers are slightly misleading. Below is the statement and list of signatories sent to the Attorney General’s Censorship and Enforcement working party.To the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General Censorship Ministers.
"We, the undersigned, are opposed to Restricted p-rnographic publications and material being sold where they can easily be seen and accessed by children.
We call for the sale and display of Restricted publications to be limited to adults-only premises.
Further, we support a review of the Classification of Publications Guidelines, to determine whether there should be more stringent requirements for the display of the so-called "lads'' magazines such as ‘People' ‘The Picture' ‘Zoo' and ‘Ralph' magazines etc..
Julie Gale, Director, Kids Free 2B Kids
The Hon Alastair Nicholson, AO RFD QC, Former Chief Justice of the Family Court and Founding Patron, Children's Rights International
Tim Costello, CEO World Vision
Noni Hazlehurst, AM,. Actor, Child Advocate
Clive Hamilton, AM, Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics
Dr Joe Tucci, CEO Australian Childhood Foundation
Steve Biddulph, Psychologist, Author and Australian Father of the Year in 2000
Professor Louise Newman, Director, Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology
Dr Karen Brooks, Associate Professor in media studies, School of Arts and Social Sciences Southern Cross University
Barbara Biggins, OAM Hon CEO Australian Council on Children and the Media
Melinda Tankard Reist, Editor "Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls", Social Commentator
Dr John Tobin, Melbourne Law School
Elizabeth Handsley, BA .LLB. LLM., Professor of Law, Flinders University
Kaisu Vartto, CEO Sexual Health Information Networking & Education SA Inc (SHine SA)
Dr Cordelia Fine, Centre for Applied Philosophy & Public Ethics University of Melbourne
Bill Jackson, CEO, Children's Rights International
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Author, Child & Adolescent Psychologist and Social Commentator
Professor Susan J Paxton, Head of School. of Psychological Science ,La Trobe University
Dr Beryl Langer, Sociology & Anthropology School of Social Sciences LaTrobe University
Dannielle Miller, CEO Enlighten Education and author of "The Butterfly Effect"
Professor Dorothy Scott, Director, Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia
Dr Phil West, Ph.D. Initiator and Co-founder: The Alannah & Madeline Foundation Founder & President Renew the Spirit Foundation
Mr Tony Pitman, CEO OzChild
Dr Emma Rush, Co-author Corporate Paedophilia.
Dr Rick Kausman, Medical doctor and author
Lauren Kelly\, Coordinator Northern Sydney Area Sexual Assault Service Royal North Shore Hospital
Dr Judith Slocombe, Chief Executive Officer The Alannah and Madeline Foundation
Rita Princi, Child, Adolescent & Family Psychologist
Professor Chris Goddard, Director Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia, Monash University
Hetty Johnston, Founder and Executive Director Bravehearts Inc
Carla Meurs, Co-ordinator, Solving the Jigsaw
Angelique Foran, Psychologist - Child, Adolescent and Family Psychology
Miranda Chow, Project Manager, Lasallian Foundation
Ramesh Manocha, GP and Founder of Generation Next
Susan McLean, Former Police Officer & Cyber Safety Expert including child pornography and online sexual solicitation
Women's Forum Australia
Women's Action Alliance
Put soft porn out of view:experts. Mary-Anne Toy, The Age 5/4/10
The Age poll question does not reflect the story. The question should have been - Should pornographic magazines be removed from childrens view and access?
Graphic images delay censor report. Mary-Anne Toy. The Age. 5/4/10
(Headline not correct. The delay was getting the submission passed onto the censorship working party from the classification board)
Call for soft porn curbs rejected. Ari Sharp. The Age. 6/4/10
R- rating on video games a big NO for our Kids.
There is a push from some quarters at the moment to allow video games rated R18+ to be sold or hired in Australia.
Kids Free 2 B Kids is vehemently opposed to this.
Adults are easily able to purchase R18+ games online if they want them.
The highest video game rating currently in Australia is MA15+ and imported games are modified for the Australian market and have to meet our MA15+ rating.
All video games must pass through the classification system before they are sold /hired.
If there is too much high level violence in the MA15+ category, as some suggest, then revising the classification criteria is more necessary than adding another rating.
Adding an R18+ classification means that much more extreme violence and sexualised imagery will be available on the public shelves - making it more accessible to kids and young teens.
Many video games are fun and engaging and even educational - but others like Grand Theft Auto have an MA 15+ for a good reason.
Some people state that an R18+ classification will help parents.
Better community education about the impacts of media violence and the MA15+ rating will help parents more than being lulled into a sense of security by an R18+rating.
Parents must take some time to sit and watch video games with their kids and young teens to really know what they are playing.
Keep higher levels of violent and sexual games off the public shelves.
"The logical outcome of saying "let's make it R so parents will understand" is that we only need 2 classifications - G= OK for everyone, and R= parents need to be careful. So PG and M and MA15 have no meaning for anyone? In that case we need a massive public education campaign" Barbara Biggins CEO The Australian Council on Children and the Media.
(See article below for research on the impacts of exposure to media violence.)