Children put at risk over sex-driven marketing

SEX-DRIVEN marketing campaigns directed at young girls are putting children at risk of exploitation, according to a leading children’s welfare organisation.

Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI) said the sale of padded bras for pre-pubescent girls, thongs for seven-year-olds and children’s make-over games are lowering sexual boundaries.

In its annual report, CARI says these marketing campaigns are encouraging girls to be sexually involved at younger ages. CARI also said it had a growing concern about pornography and adults who use it to desensitise and exploit children.

“The line between appropriate and inappropriate sexual behaviour has been blurred for all children and young people. Worryingly such confusion around boundaries makes it easier for adults, with such an inclination, to take advantage of this blurring in order to abuse those children.”

CARI said in five years there has been a significant increase in the number of referrals from parents and carers concerned about children’s sexual behaviour.

The report, which will be launched today, pointed to certain brands directed at tweens — children between the age of seven and 14 — which use sex to exploit a lucrative market. It took particular issue with:

Dolls dressed in sexy clothes, such as Bratz.

School stationary and toys with the Playboy brand.

Computer games for boys which emphasise the sexuality of girls.

The report also highlighted an increase in the number of teenage girls who said they had been raped by strangers.

CARI’s helpline figures revealed a fivefold increase in the amount of calls about sexualised behaviour and double the amount relating to rape and sexual assault of teenagers.

However, its report said there was a reluctance among this category of victim to report assaults because they fear people will think they encouraged the attack.


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