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Child eyes and teenage boys

“Crawl around the house and look for dangers” a health visitor said when my son began to move. I did crawl around my home to imagine my son’s discoveries.  However, I never imagined my son would post toast through the video player, but he did – along with a variety of other antics!

Now my son is a teenager, I no longer need to crawl around looking for dangers. However, I am finding a need to consider the world using child eyes. Try it – remove your adult eyes and replace them with child eyes. The first thing you will notice is wonderful – no housework, job or bills to worry about. Now focus those eyes on the great British media.

If your child eyes are those of an under ten year old, they will not see sex at all.  They will see many tall girls in bikinis in magazines and adverts.  Alan Sinclair at Spar’s head office says that the industry thinks this is the same as child sees in the swimming pool and on holiday. It would be funny if the swimmers in our local pool were provocatively posing, pouting lips, half closed eyelids and breast implants.  These adult girls are not how real women look in bikinis. However, your child eyes will start to develop a notion of what real women should be.  Your child eyes will see grown up girls with little or no clothes in the vast majority of petrol stations and independently owned retailers.  Your child eyes lose their innocence as they see adult page 3 ‘girls’ with breasts and buttocks on display.  Child eyes do not know anything else.  Why do females wear no clothes but males do? Why do real women in your life wear clothes but the newly adult females in media don’t?

If your child eyes are those of an over ten year old, they have seen the sex education diagrams. This scientific encounter with sex thus sets them up for growing tween and teen eyes. They begin to receive new messages. They receive these messages over and over. For instance:

If my son played a piano for 5 hours every day it is safe to say he would become an accomplished pianist. Were he to play 5 hours daily on 15-18 rated computer games where you can buy women, dance with them, have sex moments later in a toilet, grope women, see them half naked and get points for running over women, what would this make him likely to be as an adult?  What if he watched hard core porn with child eyes, viewing a teenage female having vaginal and anal sex with two men simultaneously?  What if the same child eyes see men ejaculating into the faces of teenage girls dressed as schoolgirls?  What kind of lover will this boy become?  What about his expectations of females? – and schoolgirls!  If the child eyes see only pre-pubescent skinny females with cosmetically enhanced breasts, fake tan, hair extensions, collagen lips, plastered with make-up who are passive and brimming with desire, what impression will he gain of women? How will this affect his sexual experiences as a man, or those of his lovers?  How can my discussions about feminism counteract the brainwashing of the corporate sex industry?  Also, how does this impact on teenage girls? So many questions and so little time. Every day child eyes learn about sexuality – but it’s an unrealistic and dangerous learning curve.

It is well known that boys will acquire pornographic magazines or newspapers.  During their teenage years, they need to learn how to handle their new feelings and urges. I want to understand my son and help him along the road to becoming not just an adult but a confident, reasonable and overall good citizen.

The conundrum faced by parents of teenage boys is:

1)       Do you ignore this and hope for the best?  However, there is so much awful material just a click away!  It’s like leaving your toddler in the kitchen with the cooker, the hob and the kettle within reach.

2)      Do you allow them pornography for masturbation?  If so, what do you choose?  Images from the pornpapers like The Sun’s page 3,  Zoo or Nuts which include written quotes providing justifications for females to be treated as sexual objects?

3)      Do you talk to your teenage boy and tell them that objectification is wrong? This could make them sexually inept if you make them feel that their strong innate desire for the female body is wrong and disgusting!

4)      Do you ban the magazines, block the internet and hope he never sees a naked women until he falls in love with a sweet innocent girl who has also never seen porn?  This is dream world.

I do not have the answer.

Even without the issue of porn, there are pop up ads and sick virals such as ‘bog brush’.  This showed a woman’s head being used as a toilet brush whilst, well, either having sex or being raped.  Over 12,000 people liked this on Facebook before it was removed.  Many of the comments were gleefully chanting their enjoyment at this ‘hilarious’ clip. Then this week we hear of a viral child porn clip with 16,000 views.

Recently, a 12 year old boy raped a 9 year old girl. This is not a completely new phenomena but what the boy’s defence Counsel said was newsworthy. Sean Templeton warned in court that this type of case is the “tip of the iceberg”. I have been in touch with Sean who wholehearted supports the need for better education surrounding the issue. He says,

“While it would be nice to go back in time to pre-internet age that is unrealistic and the best form of defence is education so that sons and daughters know what is right and wrong, and what is legal and what is illegal.  It means having frank conversations about all sorts of things like the fantasy and unrealistic portraits of pornography in films and on the internet but it has to happen or generations will lose out the chance to have meaningful relationships and be satisfied in themselves”.

Sean went on to use the example that many adults do not know if it is legal for a man to start having sex with his wife when she is sleeping. Only in 1991 did the notion of a wife’s ‘irrevocable consent’ to sexual relations at the point of marriage become obsolete.  The difficulty is that if adults do not know this, then how can children possibly know?

I would be happy for my son to attend a class outlining what the law is on sexual offences. I do however, sense there would be the usual uproar as we are British and we like to sweep these things under the carpet.  There is a tendency to wait until something awful happens and then we blame porn, games or the parents.

We all need to do some more crawling around looking for the dangers of our digital age. The trouble is that what we will find is a very disturbing and widespread culture that is overdue for change.

Kirsty Hopley


Child Eyes began last October and has been gradually gaining support.

These are exciting times and we can feel that change is in the air.

Gradually as Child Eyes has grown we are delighted to say that we have some fantastic supporters. We also have some super people working on this project in various ways. It is completely unfunded so all of the work is being done through passion and commitment which is wonderful. This update is about what we have been doing and where we are heading, for those following the campaign.

Child Eyes is collaborating with another campaign called Porn Out of Public Space. We are using Child Eyes as the umbrella name and we will be starting a petition soon aimed at ensuring the Government legislates in this area.

We are working on a website containing more information, research and a gallery of pictures taken so far.

The survey is going great! Thank you to all who have completed so far. We are up to 212 and the information will be so useful for the campaign. Updates on this very soon.

We are in contact with Tom Brake MP and John Stevenson MP, we need to speak to more MPs so we are working on a way to make this easy for supporters. Watch this space.

We have had some feedback that we are focusing a little too much on the female perspective. We appreciate this feedback and are keen to rectify this. The issue affects both genders although the images we are talking about are mostly women. We have many female supporters but would like to hear from more men on the subject. Get in touch if you have an opinion or ideas of things we should, or should not do.

We have a collection of photos from various shops but need more. We intend to put this into a montage to demonstrate a child’s landscape. Please please if you see it, snap it and send it. A picture says a thousand words.

We are in contact with the Save Childhood movement and hope to get involved after their launch at the end of April.

We need to gain more support, if you know any people or groups that may support us please let us know.

Thank you





A positive response from Claire Perry MP

Thank you very much for writing to me about the work I am doing in my new role as Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on the Sexualisation and Commercialisation of Childhood, as well as your own campaign, Child Eyes.  Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you.


As a mother of three children aged between ten and sixteen, I am acutely aware of the risks that our young people face in the online world.  The internet and 24/7 connectivity has delivered huge benefits but there is now, in my view, a sense that the pace of technological change has eroded the ability of parents to keep their children safe in the digital environment.


Along with a cross party group of MPs I have been campaigning for a number of changes in the way that families access and use the internet and I will continue to do so in my new job.  Specifically, I have two areas of responsibility:


1.       To help implement family-friendly filters so that parents find it easier to block access to inappropriate material.   Last year the Government launched a consultation into online parental controls and while the Opt-In option – which I and many others supported – was not the preferred choice of those responding to the Consultation, the recommendations made after all the evidence was reviewed, will lead to much stronger filters with a requirement that the age of the person dealing with the household content filter is checked.

2.      To work with others to continue the implementation of the recommendations in the Bailey Review”, which the Prime Minister commissioned from Reg Bailey of the Mothers Union’ in 2010 and which covered a wide area of parents concerns around childhood commercialisation and sexualisation.   The January 2013 stocktake showed that we have already shown real and positive change in areas like child-friendly advertising, clothing retailing and adult content blocking on public WiFi networks, but there is more to do in the area of magazine display—as I know you will agree –  and age rating for music videos.  I will be working hard to drive this forward.  You can read more about the Bailey Review at: https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/Bailey%20Review.pdf.


In addition to this, I think that parents need more information and education to make sure they are aware of the possible risks online and to be equipped with the confidence that they know how to guide and advise their children if problems arise.  I will be working with digital industry players, parents, regulators and Ministers over the next few months to see how money and resources could be better spent to deliver this result.  Our overall ambition is for Britain to be the most family-friendly place in the world to get online, and by working together we can achieve this.


Yours sincerely






Claire Perry

Member of Parliament for the Devizes Constituency

Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Defence



On Tuesday (12 March 2013) the European Parliament will vote on a resolution working towards eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU. This is not a vote for binding law but can be seen as a reminder and a promise to adhere to over nineteen separate treaties, pacts, and conventions the UK has agreed to dating as far back as 1979. The vote is far from a sudden European prank and was voted positively by 18 out of 21 MEP’s back in November.

The cause of uproar is this line:

Member States to take concrete action on its resolution of 16 September 1997 on discrimination against women in advertising, which called for a ban on all forms of pornography in the media and on the advertising of sex tourism.’

So, we already made a resolution back in 1997 to ban porn. Incredible that since 1997 the internet has taken porn and made it available in almost every household in the EU. See how much weight a resolution holds.

Note that the ban is aimed at the media and is not a blanket ban on porn. This would, I imagine, work the same way as we portray smoking and cigarettes in the media, i.e. not at all. We do not advertise cigarettes, we do not have them on show or glorify the habit. Yet people can buy cigarettes. People will still be able to get porn but it will not be so easy. Porn does not kill and it is harmless, advocates will maintain. In part this is true but the viewer has no idea what happens before or after the film is made. Are you watching a consensual sexual delight or a  rape victim who has been warned to do the acts and appear to be enjoying it or else? This may not enter the consumers head at the time of orgasm but it should. There is also a growing correlation between young sexual crime and internet porn. We must also consider the negative effects on boys, girls, women and men from the array of sexually explicit images of women that can be found, well, everywhere.

The sex sells addicts will bellow, ‘How dare they tell us to have zero-tolerance for sexist insults or degrading images of women and girls in the media. Why, that would mean the end of us’. Predictably, object adoring rags throw their hands up in disgust over the EU dictating to us on what we can and can’t see and do.

This result may be beginning of the end since the overwhelming majority of porn is degrading to women.

And it is degrading. Having been on a porn journey this week while researching I was subjected to tears, terror and an overwhelming fear of men. This included a fear of my own partner in an irrational momentary panic after seeing some horrific videos online. I was not anti-porn before I discovered the child porn, rape and brutal porn for free and within less than 50 clicks and under 10 minutes work.

What of people who enjoy watching porn? They still can but they just will not have it rammed down their throats everyday, or maybe they will since a majority of porn includes over sized penises being thrust into mouths making the female chag (a new word meaning choke and gag).

This is where decisions are tricky. As a society we need to make it clear that we do not accept degradation of women but it is unclear if this can truly happen without the end of  porn. There are women and men who enjoy porn and who work in the industries that may see this as restrictions on their liberty. These issues do need to be further considered. There has to be a balance here. A balance where humans can watch other humans engaging in sexually pleasurable acts that does not involve one type of human making another type of human engage in mentally and physically harmful acts. Back to the smoking analogy, some people like to smoke, others do not. It is unfair to expect all people to breath smoke. What can be done with porn is to allow people who want it to have it, but not at the expense of those who do not, in particular youngsters. Iceland do not agree and intend to ban all violent pornography.

Aside from the porn issue in the resolution, the EU aims to free the female sex from the shackles that still exist in our everyday lives that fuel inequality. Eliminating gender stereotypes is about removing a whole host of behaviours that combine to control and degrade one section of society. No wonder The Sun is crying about our freedom.

This ‘freedom’ is male freedom and liberty overriding female freedom and liberty. Those who are against the resolution are against gender equality.

In order to do the job properly the European Parliament is being asked to scrutinise the following areas that affect girls and women

  • Media and culture, recognising that girls and women are portrayed in sexual ways.
  • Education and training, recognising differing aspirations related to subjects such as science.
  • The labour market, recognising continued existence of sexism at work and unequal pay.
  • Economic and political decision making, recognising females continual battle with the glass ceiling.

The report put forward by Dutch MEP Kartika Tamara Liotard brings together the aims of Child Eyes, No More Page Three, Object, Let Toys Be Toys and various other campaigns. Child Eyes delights in its recognition that:

children are confronted with gender stereotypes at a very young age through role models promoted by television series and programmes, discussions, games, video games and advertisements, study materials and educational programmes, attitudes in schools, the family and society, which influence their perception of how men and women should behave and which have implications for the rest of their lives and their future aspirations’.

YES, exactly what we are saying.

However, do we expect this resolution to lead to a ban on porn? No, I seriously doubt it. We are still in for the long haul as attitudes do not change overnight. Sadly, a lot of people’s pockets are lined by turning girls and women into pieces of meat to be slavered over, devoured and abused.


Learning sex and a woman’s place from the pram

Is nursing cradle cap and nappy rash more important than nursing the ideas inside a child’s mind? As Professor Robert Winston states, “Early experience is pivotal in making us who we are as adults”.  We didn’t need a professor to tell us that what we teach our children affects their minds, right? We teach our kids moral values, we protect them and give them educational toys. We also wheel them past pornography in the local mini supermarket when we need bread and milk. The images are always women, thus providing small girls with the most vital lesson, how to master being a sexual object. For boys, this shows them how to view women. Are we happy about this? We certainly are not, but what can we do?

Child Eyes asked parents whether they feel in control of what their children see in the media and over 80% said NO! So why are parents so powerless to choose what their children can and cannot see?

The current situation in shops, supermarkets and newsagents is that they can display adult titles but that they should be out of reach of children under guidelines set by NFRN. The recommendation for ‘lad mags’ is that they should not be displayed next to children’s magazines or in the direct sight of children. Unless we are talking about children without moveable eyes or necks then this is not enough. Between the guidelines we can read that it is fine for children to see them but not to touch them. This misses the point entirely. The child could reach alcohol but the harm would be if it were to be swallowed by the child. The same premise applies here. The child cannot reach the image but it is imprinted on their vulnerable mind. Furthermore, this ridiculous situation occurs with the Daily Sport which is meant to be displayed back page up. This rarely happens. The guidelines are heavily focused on minimising complaints rather than protecting young eyes.

The question that parents need answered remains, what can we do? Well, these are only guidelines so they have no force in law. If a retailer wants to display adult magazines next to Moshi Monsters there really is no way you can stop them. You can complain, although Child Eyes supporters have done this and the result is more of the same. Out of 30 supporters asked, “Have you ever challenged a shop over explicit images? If so what happened”, only two say the images were moved. The remaining experiences show a disappointing trend of ‘who cares’ attitude. And who does care? It’s only the next generation of misogynists and sexual playthings after all.

The Bailey review into the sexualisation of childhood recommends that parents speak up when they see something inappropriate for children. This is because all parents have the time to complain about the woman bending over on the Sport that their son just saw, then to complain again the next day about the woman squatting pulling her knickers down. Missing the point yet again this totally disregards the fact that the child has already seen the offending item and the imprint upon the mind is already there. The emphasis is on the parent’s disgust rather than the need to keep these images for adult eyes only. We need to step into a child’s eyes and see what it means to them rather than what it means to us or what it means to the sale of sex. The Bailey review seems satisfied that there is enough good will in the industry to keep our little ones safe. The Government are currently stocktaking to check if our friendly retailers are exercising the good will. Sadly as our research shows there is little good will when a parent brings sexual images to the retailer’s attention. Child Eyes has evidence of many negative experiences when the display of indecent publications had been challenged;

“They apologised and changed the layout slightly. But when I returned to same shop a week later the covers were showing again in the same place as before”

“Bemusement from the staff, rejection of a man’s right to complain about these things.”

“I get laughed at and nothing is done”.

Good will was a nice idea but only works in fairy tales. This fairy tale, worse than teaching the next generation of women that the only hope is to be rescued by a man and live happily ever after, rather teaches them that their destiny is to be ogled by a man and encounter years of dealing with feelings of inadequacy if they decide against the trend of personal re-invention and cosmetic surgery.” They are taught that this is normal in a land of wonderful institutions like the Queen, a lovely cup of tea and a pouting provocative page three sex object on the breakfast table,the community centre, the ballpool and the shops.

It is clear that while parents want to be in control of what their children see, they cannot be. Sex is injected into our eyeballs and our children cannot be kept away from it. It is inconceivable that parents will have the time and energy to complain repeatedly and it is disrespectful to ask them to be insulted each time they do.

Child Eyes supporters are clear that they want to see modesty wraps and high shelves. Protectionist? Yes! but no more so than the complete ban of the sight of cigarette displays. To buy porn and sell porn is fine but there is no need to involve children in the process. Retailers had a great chance to regulate themselves but have failed. For instance, Tesco is signed up to the Mumsnet Lad’s mag campaign and will display lad’s mag’s behind other mag’s except when they don’t.  Similarly Co-op said, “The Daily Sport will be merchandised with the back page on display” except when it is not. Particular porn filled petrol stations will keep them at the top shelf, except when they point blank refuse and quote the lack of legislation as a defence. It is so hit and miss that some parents have taken to turning these mag’s and newspapers over. Seriously, do we have to do this along with the cradle cap and nappy rash.  We never signed up for voluntarily merchandising supermarket shelves when the kid was born but we did sign up to protect their minds.