A television watchdog group is deeply troubled to find that underage girls on prime time broadcasts are more likely to be presented in sexually exploitative scenes than are adult women.
The new research from the Parents Television Council's (PTC) "4 Every Girl Campaign" also shows that such scenes are typically presented as humorous.
Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for PTC, tells OneNewsNow that out of 238 scripted episodes that aired during the study period, 150 episodes (63 percent) contained sexual content in scenes that were associated with females, and 33 percent of the episodes contained sexual content that rose to the level of sexual exploitation.
"What we are seeing is an increase in sort of the trivialization of issues like child molestation, rape, prostitution and sex slavery," Henson laments. "In fact, in many cases, the younger the child involved in the scenario, the more likely it was to be treated in a humorous manner."
Findings from the report reveal that sexual exploitation has become a common topic and a comedic topic on prime time television in shows airing as early as 7:00 Central time. Nearly 40 percent of the content in the present study was intended for purposes of humorous entertainment.
"These are shows that are animated, which makes them attractive to kids," the PTC communications director notes. "We know that kids are watching. They're treating a very grave and serious issue as something that is inconsequential."
PTC concludes that the prevalence of images that trivialize sexual exploitation can be interpreted as sanctioning the sexualization of women.
Holly Austin Smith, child trafficking survivor, advocate, author and speaker, stresses the importance of this research:
"Negative messages in the media, including the sexual objectification of women, create a climate which supports the tactics of sexual predators," she states. "Sex traffickers understand how these messages influence vulnerable children, and they are using it to their advantage."