The government’s review of the premature sexualisationof young people could make matters worse, exacerbating the very problem it is supposed to tackle.That was the unanimous view of a group of experts in this field, whose letter setting out their concerns was published yesterday in the Times Higher Education Supplement.
They criticise the review on three key grounds:
- it will make it harder for young people to speak about sex, so increasing the risk of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and unwanted sex;
- by making girls’ sexuality — and female modesty — a key issue, the review is adding yet further to the pressures to conform on young girls: although if the report is to be believed, it is those pressures that are already causing significant harm to girls;
- the review appears to have taken little account of existing research: it has ignored areas where real risks to young people has been previously identified (health, housing, poverty and education) and focuses instead on an area — sexualisation — which is poorly defined and for which it fails to provide any meaningful measures.
Above all, those critical of the report point out, many academics and researchers with a known track record in this area offered their services to the government in respect of the Bailey Review — and were turned down. It is their hope that in future, government will be better prepared to listen.
See full text of the letter