Child Pornography and The Sexualisation of Children

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with giorge thomas

“Lostprophets lead singer, Ian Watkins, has been convicted on child pornography charges in Wales this week. At the 11th hour, the 36 year old changed his plea to guilty, though maintained he does not remember any of his depraved acts – which include the attempted rape of an eleven month old baby – as was high on Crystal Meth.”

Do Child Pornography Websites Lead to Acts of Unimaginable Evil?

Earlier today, giorge thomas posted an article in which she gives a detailed account of a case that has shocked the UK public. Ian Watkins, aided and abetted by two of his rock band’s fans, both women, got access to their children and performed sexual acts on an eleven month old baby.

Footage of him raping the child was recovered from his computer, seized by police from his home when searching it on drugs charges.

The two women have been charged and will be sentenced in December.

This could have been avoided had police acted four years earlier when his girlfriend informed them of his paedophilic tendencies “after he showed her a picture of a young girl and confided that he desired having sex with children like her.” Had they taken the tip seriously and searched his computer they would have been able to discover much earlier “online profiles Watkins created on child porn sites. One included twenty-seven paedophilic photos which received more than 40,000 views.”

There is an on-going debate in the British media as to whether recently implemented pornography filters on major internet sites will be able to reduce access to child pornography online. Whereas most agree that this is a step for the better, there are calls for David Cameron to invest in further online policing, as these new measures will not affect the underground networks of the kind that Watkins had access to.

There is another aspect to this debate too. As giorge tomas indicates “The decision sparked outrage in some sections of the community, stating this is taking away a person’s liberty…” She disagrees, and is of the opinion that more should be done to shut down child pornography websites as they perpetrate crimes against children and it is their liberty that is endangered by their continued existence.

I agree with her standpoint. No one’s liberty is infringed in the removal of the sites. We claim to live in a civilised society, and no self-respecting, decent human being can ever possibly view child pornography as a freedom to be protected. Such people ought to be ostracised from our midst as the sorry excuse for human beings that they are.

However, I would like to take this debate further. When it comes to child pornography I doubt that many would disagree that it is wrong, but how about the sexualisation of children perpetrated by popular media?


The girl in the Vogue issue illustrated above is only ten years old. She is dressed and made up as a grownup. I find this development disturbing. Don’t you?

Vogue Paris has gained a reputation for its provocative shoots, but I believe that it crossed a line from the provocative to the sickening in its December/January 2011 issue where the magazine features three little girls – Lea, Prune and Thylane, as models in the “Cadeaux” editorial.

The young models wore luxurious designer gowns, expensive jewellery and more makeup than most women usually use. They do not look their age, and I believe the photographers’ choices in making them look like adults were deliberate and it went too far. Examine the photo below. Is this an acceptable pose for a ten-year old?
Vogue Issue

You may argue that there is a big difference between these images and child pornography. However, these images use the same logic that all other fashion shoots use. They are exhibited with the same intent and work under the same assumption: that sex sells.

Except for in this case the “sex” that sells uses images of vamped up children and a disturbing connection is established between allure, sex-appeal and temptation — all concepts used by this industry to sell – and children.

This is not the kind of mind-set that an industry with any degree of social responsibility ought to be promoting.

Vogue Issue Cadeaux

The images were met with little reaction in France at the time. But about eight months later they caused a stir in the United States.

I would say this when it comes to the US reaction. I agree with its condemnation and criticism of the French issue of Vogue, but I would like those critics to consider the irony of their position. After all, child beauty pageants in the US have their fair share in the sexualisation of children.

I simply do not understand this desire to promote an image of children as “sexy”.

Adult sexual motifs are used for products and clothing targeted at children, reducing the gap between what is produced for children and adults. The merchandise aimed at young girls pushes the boundaries of “sexiness.” I have come across so many girls who at the age of twelve already wear the latest fashion labels, hair extensions and false nails as a big part of constructing their image.

These bombardment of children with sexualised images, either of other children or even of adults, has resulted in a radical change in their self-image.

The sexualisation of society as a whole influences young girls to convey a sexual maturity and display an image of themselves that is incongruous with their age.

Amongst other harmful consequences, I fear that this increased sexualisation of children may inadvertently result in lax attitudes towards abuse.

Who is to blame? Is it the fashion industry and fashion magazines? Are the music industry and pop stars to blame for the promotion of such over sexualised images? Does mainstream TV have a part to play in all this?


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