Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 486–502 | Cite as

“Coming Clean” on Duty of Care: Australian Print Media’s Representation of Male Versus Female Sex Offenders in Institutional Contexts

  • Roland V. Landor
  • Susana A. Eisenchlas
Original Paper


Public opinion about sexual abuse of minors is greatly shaped by mass media and the way individual cases are reported. This paper examines Australian print media’s representation of sex offenders, focussing particularly on the sex of the offenders and aiming to shed light on some of the misconceptions and deep-rooted prejudices within the population at large. Given the multi-faceted nature of sexual offences, this paper focuses on sexual offences committed by both males and females against minors in the context of a companion breach of duty of care. In order to explore the effect that linguistic tools can have in the Australian print media’s way of reporting sexual abuse cases, twenty-nine newspaper articles published in Australian dailies were selected for analysis. The analysis of these articles reveals a marked bias in the manner in which sexual offences perpetrated by males, as opposed to females, are reported, suggesting a male monopoly on sexual abuse. We argue that this biased representation, which hinders adequate profiling of sexual offences against minors, may stem from an androcentric view of sexuality and from the systematic denial of female agency when it comes to sex.


Media representation Child sexual abuse Duty of care Female sex offenders 



The authors wish to thank Professor Pat Diamond for his feedback on the manuscript, the Editor-in-Chief Professor Roberto Refinetti, and the three anonymous reviewers for raising issues and for their useful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Languages and LinguisticsGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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