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Mobilising efforts to combat over-sexualisation of children and child 'sexting'

The Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development is seeking to mobilise parliaments, governments, media, families and professionals in the advertising, education and child-minding sectors against the over-sexualisation of children.

"The over-sexualisation of children, meaning their sexualisation in a manner that is not age-appropriate, is expressed in various ways in the media, in advertising and in commercial products. Following the behavioural examples of adults and peers, children tend to accept sexualised images and messages as a norm they will try to comply with. This may affect their self-consciousness, self-esteem, well-being, equal opportunities, school results, social status and development and even their health and safety", explains the rapporteur Valeriu Ghiletchi (Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD).

The Committee is particularly worried by "sexting" - the sharing of sexually explicit images via the Internet and smartphones – which has swept through Europe’s schools, often leading to significant psychological trauma.

"Children across Europe naively become involved in such activities, with nude photos finding their way into the public sphere in many cases, very often against the will of the person depicted. Some countries even report an increasing number of teenagers willing to prostitute themselves, either to pay for cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs or beauty and fashion products, or even to fund their studies", emphasises the report.

In a draft resolution adopted today, the Committee voiced its grave concern over this phenomenon and called on public authorities to adopt legislative measures to put limits on the inappropriate sexualised depiction of children in the media and advertising sectors. It also urged implementation of policies and programmes to prevent over-sexualisation, and in particular the setting up of supervisory institutions and procedures, as well as measures aimed at empowering children to say no to inappropriate and dangerous behaviour.