If you take a closer look at your surroundings you’ll see that London falls into the sinister trap of sexualising its youngsters. This isn’t new. Almost every specialist working within advertising and marketing companies will tell you one simple fact: sexual subtext sells.
The western world has been guilty of it for years and its influence is everywhere. From our very own page three of the Sun to the music industry, film industry and advertising sector. Studies agree that children are highly affected by what they see around them, especially when they watch on TV.
“Sexual subtext falls under emotional advertising, which is the most effective. It is shocking and inappropriate but it works”, said Brigita Zapustaite, a marketing specialist.
If you visit one of London’s top tourist attractions, the London Eye, you will see that Brigita Zapustaite’s statement is alarmingly true. Walking on a chilly Saturday afternoon, I stood by the merry-go-round next to the big wheel. Its main consumers are children. This time, the usually magic atmosphere, is different. I notice a group of men with verve and crazed expressions on their faces photographing what confines between appropriateness and inappropriateness and they’re not photographing their offspring enjoying the carousel ride. I look closer at their subject matter and see that the target of their lenses is a young girl, who is barely dressed and posing provacatively on a horse. She is the promotion for the carousel. To make matters worse, the men cheer whenever she changes position. The girl looks no older than 15 years.
“Advertising companies don’t usually consider children that much. They create [advertisements] with expectations of being shown during right time of the day or rather night”, said Miss Zapustaite.
Advertising is not the only field which is dangerous for children and teenagers. According to research made by American Paediatric and Psychological Institute, the amount of sexual subtext in television series, situational comedies and music videos causes a high rate of early sexual activity and underage pregnancy. According to the Office for National Statistics, teenage pregnancies are at a rate is 35.5%.
MTV’s musical content is generally considered by parents and specialists to be harmful. Whether its Lady Gaga’s controversial underwear, Beyoncé provocative dance moves or Rihanna’s S &M flavoured videos; they’ve been marked as inappropriate for under 18’s on YouTube. Children are vulnerable and are not able to distinguish irony from actual meaning.
“I was shocked when I came home and saw my four year old niece, dancing to some music videos on the TV, but not as a four year old child, but as a grown up woman, trying to imitate the sexy moves she saw on the screen”, said Malgorziata Stachowska. She added: “Nowadays you have to watch out for everything, you have to keep avoiding things and explain what is wrong. Otherwise how would the kid grow up?”
Camden Town is an area that attracts a lot of young people with its world renowned street market. It has one of the highest crime rates in London. The local sex offenses is 2.11%, nationally it’s 1.17%. General violence against a person is at 33.95% locally compared to 19.97% nationally. The area is well known for its drugs and alcohol consumption in and around the market on weekends.