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CYFS, CYFS, wherefore art thou CYFS on this one?

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on February 26, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH New Zealand

February 25th, 2007 by cyfswatchnz

Toddler T-shirt outrage

Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 25 February 2007

Fashion house World has been accused of marketing children as “little sexual beings” and grooming them for sexual predators with a T-shirt featuring the slogan “Future Porn Star”.

The T-shirt has outraged anti- child abuse campaigners Stop Demand and comes as a new American report says the rising tide of “raunch culture” is starting to affect young girls.

But World designer Francis Hooper is defending the T-shirt saying, “As a fashion designer I’m being humorous and irreverent”.

Stop Demand spokewoman Denise Ritchie said the slogan was irresponsible and it was time World grew up.

She said parents should realise that a lot of “creepy” men found such images arousing.

“There are these sorts of creepy individuals in the community and they will be looking at young children wearing these T-shirts, thinking of these sorts of images.”

Hooper said if people wanted to take offence he could not stop them but they should look at the T-shirts in context of the whole print line which included the slogans “Parents are Boring” and “I have Issues”.

“That one is, of course, the most risque and naughty,” Hooper said. “It’s an adult purchase for children.”

He said the $45 T-shirts were not necessarily to be worn, but more of a joke gift an auntie would give their niece or nephew.

He said World had sold about three of the T-shirts and “you can say Francis admits it was a dud”.

The T-shirt faux-pas comes as an American Psychological Association report warns the rising tide of so called “raunch culture” is starting to affect young girls, leading them to become obsessed with how they look at increasingly young ages.

Girls are bombarded through a variety of media – from raunchy music videos to Bratz dolls, to girl magazines – that what matters is how “hot” they look, says the report. The result is that little girls and young women want revealing clothes and accessories that make them “sexy”.

“The consequences of the sexualisation of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development,” says Dr Eileen Zurbriggen, chair of the APA Task Force.

Clinical psychologist and clinical manager at Auckland Sexual Abuse Help Kathryn McPhillips said the T-shirt was not harmless fun.

She said the joke, if there was one, was for adults and not the child wearing the shirt, who would not get it.

It almost invited adults to see the child sexually, she said. Fashion designers saw their role as one of pushing boundaries, but they were often unaware of the harm they were doing when they took part in the growing trend to sexualise children.

They were not psychologists but it would help if they occasionally consulted one, she said.

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