The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is the peak medical body in Australia representing doctors across all specialties of medicine. The AMA have strong views on how sexualised media is negatively affecting our kids. And they have good reason to, they are dealing with the aftermath every day.
The AMA have spoken out in the past regarding the sexualisation of children in the media. They put a submission in to the 2008 inquiry into 'The sexualisation of children in the contemporary media environment' and again spoke out in 2012 calling for a new inquiry. We blogged about that here.
The AMA's current submission into the inquiry on 'Harm Being Done to Australian Children through Access to Pornography on the Internet' describes how children and young people are increasingly coming into contact with 'extreme' material which can be damaging.
Their submission states:
Because of the proliferation of online pornography, it is increasingly playing a role in shaping social norms in relation to sexuality, in particular among young people. The AMA believes that children viewing highly sexualised pornographic material are at risk of negatively affecting their psychological development and mental health by potentially skewing their views of normality and acceptable behaviour at a critical time of development in their life.
Internet pornography is reported to depict sexual relationships and activities that are violent or aggressive towards women, or portray women in such a way that young viewers could form unrealistic understandings of sexual and social behaviour. It is also well established that men (and boys) are the largest viewers of internet pornography......
.......This growing body of research shows that premature exposure to sexualised images and adult sexual content has a negative impact on the psychological development of children, particularly on self-esteem, body image and understandings of sexuality and relationships. Exposure to sexualised imagery has been fuelled by the proliferation of online pornography and sexualised representations of children in advertising, in addition to the circulation of sexualised content through social media.
The AMA submission also states that over the past 10 years there has been a dramatic rise in the number of men and women in Australia, and worldwide, undertaking genital cosmetic surgery. They state that this growth in demand for such procedures is linked to the idealised and highly selective images of genital anatomy shown in online pornography.
Earlier this year the ABC featured an article on labiaplasty which included a seven minute documentary looking at 'the airbrushing out of "excess" labial tissue in soft-core pornography, which is done in accordance with Australian classification guidelines for unrestricted publications.'
The recommendations put forward by the AMA included internet software to allow parents to block access to certain websites or types of content. They have also suggested greater education about how to safely navigate the internet and how to help young people recognise the content they are accessing.
The AMA also supports interventions to prevent further proliferation of sexualised images to children. It is clear the current system of advertising self regulation is not working.
You can read the AMA submission and others here.
See our 'Tips for Parents' page for information on how to keep your child safe online.
Add your name to the #PornHarmsKids campaign.