The Sexualisation of Childhood

  • Allison Moore
  • Paul Reynolds
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)


Since the turn of the twenty-first century, concerns over the ‘premature sexualisation of childhood’ have been widely articulated by politicians, child ‘experts’, children’s charities and members of the public in a number of countries across, what Hawkes and Egan (2008a) call, the Anglophone West. Rooted in, and an extension of, claims that Western childhoods are under threat or in crisis—see, for example, Neil Postman’s (1983) The Disappearance of Childhood, Sue Palmer’s (2007) Toxic Childhood and Frank Furedi’s (2001) Paranoid Parenting—debates over the sexualisation of childhood focus on, amongst other things, ‘age inappropriate’ clothing, explicit sexual imagery in music videos, television programmes and films, and easy, frequently unfettered, access to sexual content on the internet. The public consensus and common sense assumptions about the impact of the sexualisation of culture on constructions of childhood in the abstract and the lived experiences of children in reality, are that it is inherently negative and damaging; that girls, in particular, come to see themselves and their worth only in terms of their adherence to narrowly defined normative standards of physical attractiveness. These fears have provoked an “incitement to discourse” (Foucault 1978: 17) and the production of specialised knowledge by concerned experts about how best to respond to these pressing dangers.


Premature Sexual Activity womenWomen Bailey Review representationsRepresentation Rosalind Gill 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison Moore
    • 1
  • Paul Reynolds
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesEdge Hill UniversityOrmskirkUK

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