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AMA ads anger over sexualisation of kids

The Australian Medical Association has called on the government to crack down on ads that sexualise children, saying such images and messages are damaging children's health.

AMA president Steve Hambleton said self-regulation of the advertising industry was clearly not working and called on the government to step in and enforce regulations.

Dr Hambleton said there was strong evidence that premature sexualisation was likely to damage child health and development, particularly in the areas of body image and sexual health.

He said the association's call was prompted by last week's Age article on ads that sexualise pre-teens. He said while the AMA rarely spoke out on social issues, it had spoken publicly as this issue was affecting children's health

"Social media is spreading these images further and we're seeing various health problems with kids, things like eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression."

Dr Hambleton said there had been renewed debate in the media and the community recently, sparked by ads which featured young children in images and with messages that were "disturbing and sexually exploitative".


He gave the example of the ad for the perfume Lola, which references the controversial novel Lolita and was banned in the UK but approved here.

Dr Hambleton also said the government had failed to act on some of the recommendations from a 2008 inquiry into The Sexualisation of Children in the Contemporary Media, including the call for a follow-up inquiry 18 months later.

"We urge the government to start a new inquiry with a view to introducing tougher measures, including legislation, to protect the health of our children by protecting them from sexualised and other inappropriate images."

Chief Executive of the Australian Association of National Advertisers, Scott McClellan, said the issue of children and advertising had been well canvassed in last year's review into outdoor advertising and the recent classifications review.

Mr McClellan said while there had been some recommendations for improvement, which the AANA was looking at, the overall conclusion from the reviews was that self-regulation was working.

He said the AANA had also recently started a review of its advertising to children code and would be calling for public comment.

"We have an effective system, the cost of which is borne by advertisers, not the tax payer, and the AMA should inform itself of the work already done in this area."

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