Two cheers to BBC’s Panorama for reporting the sexual abuse of children by children, and for highlighting the increased sexualisation of children by the media, and also for pointing out the role of sexual abuse as a means of domination – rather than the ‘natural overflowing of suppressed adolescent sexual tension’. Or however else that excuse for violence is phrased.
Michelle Elliot, from the anti-bullying charity Kidscape, says that “sexual bullying has almost become a way of asserting your power over others and for that reason it is disturbing”.
Responsibly, Panorama did did not try to lay the blame for this form of abuse, or the responsibility for its prevention, at the door of parents. But typically, it did not examine the commercialisation of sex. The fact that without using sex to sell everything from soap to nukes, there would be comparatively little of it in the media for children to be exposed to, and neither would their notion of what sex is be as perverted by competitive values as it now so clearly is.
Last Spring, I was shocked to hear that my little nephew had been exposed to pornographic images on another child’s mobile phone in his rather proper little school in the depths of Wales. He was 7. His parents carefully explained as much as they could, and he does not seem to have forgotten about the whole thing. But constant exposure of children to this kind of poison cannot be tolerated.
Apparently though, the media are very prepared to tolerate the the blatant exploitation of children for sexual purposes in countries like Thailand, as long as it is camouflaged within the influential tourist industry, which buys lots of advertising space.
And to its shame, the BBC inadvertently condoned this same commodification in the way it exploited Vietnam in its recent ‘Top Gear Special’. That programme depicted Vietnam as the next Thailand. A land of mystical scenery and friendly locals where made-to-measure silk suits could be bought for peanuts. Where every whim of the westener could be catered for.
And mention this fact on the messageboard of a supposedly liberal media organisation like the Guardian, and you are likely to be censored for your trouble.
It seems that it it not merely tories who have problems with freedom of speech.