The over sexualisation of children in the media has become somewhat of a moral panic. Much like, child obesity, terrorism and young street gangs. Stanley Cohen describes Moral panics as episodes that condition the audience of mass media, into identifying a specific person of group of persons as as threat to societal values. (Cohen, 1972)
Moral panics seem to be prevalent in contemporary mass media today, with young Australian ISIS supporters, ominous effects of fast foods and over sexualisation of children. These examples share a common trend, the corruption of innocence.
The image of children is largely presumed as innocent. Fresh, young, and only brushing the surface of education and emotional knowledge. But the media would have us believe us (and rightfully so(in a way)) that the subversion and undermining of this innocence is the moral panic that we should be concerned about.
It’s true. Children’s innocence has been undermined, subverted and sexualised. We live in a world of corporate pedophilia (Rush, 2006) Where children are portrayed in ways that connote sexuality, deemed inappropriate for there age.
A David Jones catalog came under fire after it was accused of portraying children in a sexual manner.
But whose to blame?
This is an important question to consider, especially when the mass media, is spreading the images that is claiming to be the cause of the moral panic. If the media is displaying the images of child sexualisation such as Haven magazine, displaying a hyper sexualised nine year old girl.
So if the media is where these moral panics are identified and also where they are most prevalent, then what are we as an audience meant to believe?
If the media is trying to alter the normal perception of child sexuality then why is it also identifying it as a moral panic. Obviously, it can be argued that the media aren’t evil pedophiles. And they mostly likely aren’t.
But imagine if they were!
It’s easy to forget that like all companies and businesses have an agenda. A series of goals to achieve. The media has an agenda.
Our roll as a participatory audience is not simply consume and let the moral panic consume us, but to identify the source and cause of the panic.
‘Provocative’ Haven magazine front cover prompts outrage over ‘hyper sexualising’ young girl | Gold Coast Bulletin. 2015. ‘Provocative’ Haven magazine front cover prompts outrage over ‘hyper sexualising’ young girl | Gold Coast Bulletin. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/lifestyle/provocative-haven-magazine-front-cover-prompts-outrage-over-hyper-sexualising-young-girl/story-fnj94iqm-1226819403725. [Accessed 20 April 2015].
Rush, E, 2006. Corporate Paedophilia. Corporate Paedophilia Sexualisation of children in Australia, [Online]. 1, 0. Available at: http://www.tai.org.au/documents/dp_fulltext/DP90.pdf [Accessed 20 April 2015].
Stanley Cohen, 2003. Folk Devils and Moral Panics. 3rd Edition. Routledge.