Critique: Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls (2007)

Arnold Veraa, PhD*

ABSTRACT: This review assesses the evidence this report quotes in support of its conclusion that the sexualization of “girls” is widespread and that it has damaging consequences.  It was found that the report relies heavily and inappropriately on adolescent and adult data to support this contention.  No direct evidence was detected in this report that supports the claims that “girls” may suffer from self-image problems, eating disorders, depression or an inability to develop a healthy sexuality as a result of “sexualization”.

The Report and its Summary Conclusions:

    Following a recommendation by the American Psychological Association’s “Committee on Women in Psychology” a Task Force was established in February 2005 to report on the sexualization of girls.

    This Task Force reported in 2007 and reached the conclusions, in brief, that the sexualization of girls leads to undermining persons’ emotional and self-image, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression in girls and women and has negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

The Report’s Definition of “Sexualization” (page 2):

    The report identifies sexualization as occurring when a person’s value is estimated on the basis of their sexual appeal or attractiveness, or when persons are “sexually objectified” (made into a “thing” for others’ sexual gratification).

    The report advises inappropriately imposed sexuality is particularly relevant to children's sexualization, as they are then imbued with adult sexuality which is forced, rather than chosen by them.

    Particular examples mentioned in the Introduction (page 2) are infants or elementary school age girls being subjected by toy manufacturers to dolls featuring miniskirts and thigh-high boots, clothing stores selling thongs marked “eye candy” or “wink wink,” and beauty pageants in which they wear makeup, false eyelashes, and hair extensions and are encouraged to act flirtatiously onstage.

    Other examples mentioned concern girls wearing T-shirts that say “flirt,” or instructions given by magazines for preadolescent girls on ways to look sexy.  As well, we are asked to think of ads that portray women as little girls.

    The report thus encourages the reader to think the content is indeed going to be about “girls” (as the authors use the term in the title and in the Introduction) in this age range rather than about adolescents or adults. It is important to keep this in mind.

A Troublesome Definition:

    The authors’ use of the term is vexatious in that a purported community problem – sexualization of girls – is only identified in relation to the moral attitudes and perceptions of the principal feminist psychologist authors and reviewers (33 in all, of whom one is apparently a male) and some of the references they chose to quote.

    The authors make no attempt to put child sexualization into a societal perspective.  Until results of comprehensive community prevalence research about attitudes, prevalence and possible effects about child sexualization are available, opinions and attitudes expressed about the topic can only be those of the proponents and cannot be generalized from.

    Given the nature of the topic, which is essentially one of moral or attitudinal preferences towards the expression of childhood sexuality, such an open-ended definition invites discord and is likely to be divisive in relation to personal beliefs or ideological opinions held.

    It seems contentious to claim, on behalf of a professional association, that a “girl sexualization problem” exists without demonstrating a community consensus about the issue, and some agreement among psychologists, and allied professions, that we indeed have such a concern. The report does not supply such assurance.

The Report’s use of “Girls”:

    We must acknowledge the term “girl” can be equivocal.  Colloquially, it might refer to children, adolescents, or adult women.  Even in professional literature, adolescents are often referred to as “girls” and both children and adolescents might be ambiguously lumped together as “girls”.

    However, in the context of this report it is evident what it means by “girls” and that is that they are of the infant and childhood variety as outlined in the Introduction (page 2).  (The perception that the report is about children, rather than about adolescents or adults, appears to have contributed to its appeal).

    The report thus confirms accepted psychological nomenclature: Infants are those of about two to five and children are those of about six to twelve years; the appropriate age range for girls.  It is generally accepted in literature that young persons above this age are referred to as adolescents, and, after seventeen or eighteen, are considered as adults.

    One of the most frustrating aspects of this report is its tendency to confound age ranges in an effort to find support for the notion that girls are adversely affected by being sexualised.  (This does not appear to be the effect of possible confusion about age ranges in the literature quoted in the report).

    Frequently, the authors obliquely quote evidence as relevant to girls when it is only derived from data pertinent to adolescents or adults.  Authors repeatedly attempt to associate girls with the experiences of adolescents and women by using such phrases as “girls and teens,” and “girls and young women.”

    Three quotes from the report illustrate this disturbing trend to link girls or children with adolescents or adults which confound any meaningful information about girls, the purported subject of the report:

“… The recent and global proliferation of Web sites of all kinds that may be of interest to girls makes it difficult to assess the sexualization of girls and women.  Lambiase (2003) examined the sexualization of girls and women on one specific type of Web site that targets and attracts girls and teens …” (page 11).

“… Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders; low self-esteem; depression or depressed mood …” (page 24).

“… If the idealized female sexual partner is a 15- or 16-year–old girl, male consumers may demand pornography featuring such girls and the opportunity to pay for sex with them.  A 2005 report noted a disturbing new trend in the recruitment of children into pornography: Pedophiles and “johns” look in online chat rooms for teens …” (page 35)

    This perplexing manner of writing, turning children into teens or adults to the report’s advantage, appears a way of avoiding the embarrassing conclusion the authors refuse to face: that they have been unable to provide valid evidence for the notion that “girls” are being sexualized en mass, and that sexualization, as they define it, produces negative effects.

    But let us review the evidence.

“Evidence for the Sexualization of Girls”: (page 5)

    Under this main heading, the report discusses evidence for the existence of the phenomenon of “girl sexualization.”  It does this under a number of topics ranging from cultural contributions (such as the media or music), advertising and products, to interpersonal and intrapsychic contributions.

    Under this heading, and in the Introduction, the authors mention some 239 references.  Of these, roughly 56% (133) refer to adults, approximately 27% (66) refer to adolescents or partly so, and 17% (40) may be said to relate to infants and children.

    The authors’ admission in the report, that much of the research reviewed concerns the sexualization of women seems more than confirmed.  The realization that only 17% of these references actually concern infants and children – the “girls” the report refers to in its introduction – is disappointing.

    More than a quarter of these 17% of references relate to newspaper articles or other popular media.  While such reports may appear insightful and informative to the populace, they do tend to rely on opinion and selected information.  Genuine research eschews such information.  However, this report accepts it and quotes such material as evidence for child sexualization.

    The remaining three quarters of these references quoted in favour of the existence of the sexualization of infants and children consists of sixteen articles in professional journals, nine books, and four articles in books.  While many of these references employ research (using a generous definition) none inform us as to what the American community actually conceives child sexualization to be, or what the extent of it may be.

    The authors themselves, however, make it quite clear what they think child sexualization entails.  They see it as the eroticization of little girls, their fetishization, and the exploitation of their innocence and vulnerability.  Portrayals of under-age nymphets and their non-threatening nature are seen to illustrate accessibilities and possibilities of seduction designed to fuel male desires, and pedophile tendencies in particular.  Authors advance the notion that such sexualization attempts are then deceivingly presented as natural, or as unremarkable in the media.

    Particular examples of premature sexualization of girls in these publications may refer to how dolls are dressed in sexually alluring clothing, how sexually provocative clothing for children is advertised (padded bras, thong panties, or revealing T shirts for example) and how children themselves are encouraged to pose in seductive and erotic ways in advertising, films and on the internet.

    Other examples of sexualization quoted may refer to how young girls are encouraged to wear make-up, perfumes or other beauty enhancements usually considered more appropriate for adolescents or women.  (See Appendix A for authors quoted by the report in these 17% of references).

    Such behaviors and practices however, can only be seen as supporting the authors theory of sexualization of girls if one happens to agree they actually constitute sexualized behaviours.  By the report’s own estimation, such practices seem reasonably widespread, and it may therefore be assumed that a sizeable portion of American children and adults do not share these authors’ apparent belief that such displays are immodest, indecent, or generally deviant and socially unacceptable.

    As the report presents no evidence drawn from community prevalence attitudinal research, no conclusion can be reached about girl sexualization being a significant problem or concern in society.

    The research quoted in these 17% of references also advises about ways gender differences are constructed in children, and how this may be reinforced and maintained.  We hear about sex typing in leisure activities, how friendship or popularity may play a role in the construction of girlhood, how girls may compete with each other, and how socialization experiences can heighten social power for boys.

    At best, such research is only remotely relevant to the topic at hand, which is to establish evidence for the existence of the sexualization of girls.

    In all, the report presents only quite limited evidence about the contention that certain behaviours, which the authors believe constitute ‘sexualization’, actually present a problem for a significant number of girls in American society.

    The views of those who might interpret such behaviors differently are not considered.  The opinions of the authors, and those of the selected references quoted, can thus not be generalised from, and the proposition that ‘girl sexualization’ is a significant social problem has therefore not been established.

“Consequences of the Sexualization of Girls”: (page 19)

    Under this main heading, the report discusses evidence for the negative effects of “girl sexualization”.  Some theories, and the impacts on girls’ health and well-being, sexuality, attitudes and beliefs, effects of sexual exploitation on girls, and the impact on others appear under subsequent subheadings.

    The authors state there are many “negative consequences” to such sexualization, and cite some 262 references in this section.  Of these, roughly 59% (155) refer to adults, approximately 26% (69) refer to adolescents or partly so, and 15% (38) may be said to relate to infants and children.

    It is, again, disconcerting to find in this report, which claims to be about “girls”, only 15% of the references actually refer to infants and children.

    Of these 15% quoted in favour of negative consequences of the sexualization of girls, 20 refer to articles in professional journals, six refer to books, five to articles in books, and two refer to reports. (The authors of these publications are presented in Appendix B).

    In this section of the report, where one expects to find evidence for the ill effects of the sexualization of girls, “theories” are first referred to (page 20).  Surprisingly few actually refer to infants and children, and those that do appear not to be particularly relevant to the topic under discussion.

    Some articles referred to discuss psychoanalytic theory in depth and others are philosophical in nature, or discuss therapeutic issues.  Others relevant to children refer to gender-stereotypical preferences, the origin and development of implicit attitudes, and how cognitive developmental factors may influence self-presentations, self-conscious emotions, self-recognition and self-awareness.

    Further articles about children discuss how girls and boys may develop differently, how body image and self-esteem may grow and evolve, how math and science participation may predict social expectancies and values, and how girls who focus less on appearance may perform better academically.

    While such discourse provides interesting theoretical perspectives, some of which is backed by research, it does not provide evidence for the “many negative consequences” this report claims exists about the sexualization of girls.

    The authors’ tendency to interpret theories as evidence (“objectification theory” being an obvious example), are inappropriate.  Theories may helpfully explain and interpret events and behaviours.  But, typically, they do not provide information about the prevalence or measured effects of a given phenomenon; in this case the possible existence and effects of the sexualization of girls (one research paper attempts to support the objectification theory in relation to adolescents).

    Under the heading “Cognitive and Physical Functioning” (page 22) five references relate to children.  They refer to analyses of physical movements, to lateral movements and how girls “throw” differently from boys, how physical activity is beneficial for girls, how math and science participation may predict social expectancies and values, and how girls who focus less on appearance may perform better academically.

    The discussion under the heading “Body Dissatisfaction and Appearance Anxiety” (page 23) mentions just one reference relevant to infants.  It is a theoretical thesis on self-conscious emotions, self-awareness and how embarrassment may arise after self-recognition develops.  This reference contains no evidence concerning the effects of sexualization.

    Under the heading “Mental Health” (page 24) the authors discuss eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression as undesirable effects of sexualization.  There are no references here that relate to infants or children, but the authors clearly infer that the findings are also applicable to “girls.”  The same applies to the heading “Physical Health” (page 25) which it is claimed may also suffer from sexualization.

    The report even manages not to mention any references about infants and children when it claims, under the heading “Sexuality”, that “ … the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop healthy sexuality …” (page 26).  For those who believe child sexualization is a problem this is an issue that would concern them most.  Yet, the authors quote no more than six references concerning adolescents, and 23 references concerning adults to support their view that “girls” are at risk in this way.

    Under the heading “Attitudes and Beliefs” (page 27) the authors seek to provide evidence for the notion that the media sexualizes girls, and that they are adversely affected by viewing such exposures.  Again, they provide no statistical support for their belief such practices affect infants and children and no references concerning this age range are provided.

    The discussion about the impact of girls’ sexualization continues with the heading “Effects of Sexual Exploitation on Girls” (p 28).  The authors state that childhood sexual abuse victimization is an extreme form of sexualization and that a review of its sequelae may be relevant to understanding the effects of child sexualization.

    This attempt to link child sexual abuse and child exploitation with sexualization is unfortunate.  The report quotes eight references in this section that refer to children and the adverse effects they may suffer as a result of child sexual abuse, but none of those suggest these are due to sexualization as this report defines it.

    It is quite inappropriate to suggest that the possible negative effects of sexualization concerning children, of which this report has not provided valid or reliable evidence, are in any way comparable to the effects children experience after sexual abuse or exploitation.

    This prompts the observation that this kind of rationalization is a feminist tactic of old.  Feminists in earlier decades employed similar means to increase awareness and seriousness of child sexual abuse by widening its definition.  “Father-daughter rape”, for instance, became common feminist folklore when “sexual abuse,” “sexual molestation” or “sexual assault” explained the adult-child sexual activity more accurately.  Particularly, since rape was found to be a rare occurrence in these circumstances.

    It appears current advocates of child sexualization are engaging in similar exaggerations and misjudgements.

    Continuing with the headings in this section that supposedly provide evidence for the ill effects of sexualization concerning “girls”, the heading “Boys and Men” (page 29) has only two references concerning children, and these are about boys, not girls.

    The heading “Women” (page 29) contains two references that concern children, but the first is about how marketing and merchandising may create female consuming subjects, and the second relates to an unreferenced author (Moore, 2003) advising that children of 11 or 12 years have achieved modelling success.  While these references could possibly provide limited support for the authors’ perception of sexualization, they do not provide evidence for its negative effects.

    Under “Impact on Society” (page 31) the report states “ … In addition to the serious consequences for girls that have been outlined previously …” (note the word “girls”) yet, we have just shown that the report has not presented any conclusive evidence for adverse effects concerning girl infants and children so far.  Such misleading comments appear with regularity in this report and are likely to lead the unsuspecting reader to believe reliable evidence has been presented when it has not.

    The report claims sexualization of girls is likely to have “numerous negative consequences for society”, and under the heading “Sexism” (page 31) we find the usual feminist concerns expressed about sex bias, sexist attitudes, sexual harassment, sex role stereotypes, and how the media may reinforce such attitudes by featuring women as sexual objects.

    While such sentiments may have widespread feminist acceptance, this claim seems unnecessarily ambitious when used as evidence for the long term adverse effects of child sexualization (as defined in the Introduction).  Confirmation would require substantial retrospective research which this report does not present.

    The report quotes one reference in this section relevant to children (about sexual portrayals of girls in advertising using four fashion ads).  While this reference argues firmly that sexualization may have implications for children’s psychological and physical well-being, it supplies no reliable evidence for this, or for the notion that child sexualization may have long term effects. (The relevant reference is Merskin, 2004).

    Discussion under the heading “Girls’ Educational Success and Achievement” (page 33) suggests that, as girls’ preoccupation with appearance ties up cognitive resources, this limits educational and occupational opportunities.  Possibly, it may for some, but the report does not provide evidence this is related to the sexualization of children; no references in this section relate to them.

    The same applies to “Sexual Harassment in School” (page 33).  There are no references about the possible ill effects of sexualization of infants and children or their harassment here, either.  Yet, the report claims it has evidence that “ … the sexualization of girls contributes to sexual harassment and coercion …” (page 33) with subsequent references only referring to adolescents and adults and no retrospective research being quoted.

    The last two headings in this report that attempt to provide evidence for the negative effects of girl sexualization are “Violence Against Girls” and “Sexual Exploitation”.  (Interestingly, the report already had an earlier heading in this section called “Effects of Sexual Exploitation on Girls” (page 28).  A reader may query this emphasis).

    Under the heading “Violence Against Girls” (page 34) the report discusses the possible relationship of sexist beliefs and media exposure with violence against women (as it did under “Sexism”, page 31).  It quotes one study as having used “children” to support this proposition, but the findings of this particular research can more appropriately be considered as relevant to adolescents (boys and girls 11-16 ).

    Even then, the research can not be interpreted as proposing that girl sexualization actually promotes violence against them.  The suggestion that it might is quite inappropriate and seems yet another example of the authors’ emotive over-generalisations.

    The last heading, “Sexual Exploitation”, (page 34) also provides no evidence for any possible adverse effects of girl sexualization.  There are two references that relate to children; the first was already referred to above, and concerns sexual portrayal of girls in advertising.  This reference may provide a modicum of support for the existence of child sexualization (as the authors view it) in fashion advertisements but cannot be quoted as providing evidence for any measurable ill effects.

    The second reference is also about how children may be viewed as sexual objects in magazines.  However, since this paper found that only 1.5% of ads in five magazines depicted children sexually, this article may have been better left unquoted as this finding does not appear to provide support for the report’s contention that girl sexualised advertising is rife.  (The authors of this reference are O’Donohue et al, 1997).

    Thus, in all, under the major heading, “Consequences of the Sexualization of Girls”, which led us to believe it would provide evidence for the adverse effects of sexualization upon “girls”, the authors have presented none.

    The references that actually were about infants and children contained no evidence concerning the report’s main claims that “girls” may suffer from eating disorders, low self-esteem or depression, or that sexualization may have negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

    As the report presents no findings concerning large scale retrospective research, it also can not claim that possible effects adolescents and adults may experience today have their foundation in infancy or childhood.

    It is clear, by the suggestive discussion in this report, that the authors firmly believe that there ought to be adverse consequences of “sexualization” for girls.  However, they have comprehensively failed to provide evidence for this belief.

Report’s Rationalization for Using Adult Studies:

    While the report offers no apologies for its frequent misuse of the word “girls”, and the misleading connotations and misinterpretations this leads to, it does refer to the paucity of research on the sexualization of girls.  The report acknowledges that “ … much of the research reviewed in this report concerns the sexualization of women …”, (page 4) but rationalizes this as being appropriate by saying that this “research” is highly relevant to the sexualization of girls because of developmental and methodological “arguments”.

    The developmental “argument” revolves around the notion that girls develop their identities by modelling themselves on sexualized women who, themselves, have been influenced by sexualized images found in the media.  The report concludes that the sexualization of women is, therefore, highly relevant to the sexualization of girls.

    The methodological “argument” suggests that people develop particular perspectives after having been exposed to consistent themes over time.  Hence, a lifetime of exposure to sexualized images, the authors argue, is bound to affect young women.  How women feel about sexualization is therefore “entirely relevant” (page 4) to understanding how “girls” feel about, and respond to, sexualization today.

    These two over-generalisations are offered as a rationale for the extensive use of adolescent and adult material to explain the possible existence and effects of sexualization on “girls.”  Such a manner of analysis would be troublesome at the best of times, but this report does not even establish, as we have seen, that the American community as a whole perceives its girls to be sexualised, or that it may produce negative effects in the first place.

    The references concerning adolescents and adults were not reviewed in the same detail, but it appears that the findings quoted seem also unlikely to fairly reflect community attitudes, experiences and effects.  If that assumption has any validity, it is another reason to resist the temptation of assuming that adolescents and adults routinely influence girls adversely in matters concerning their sexual expression.

Concerning the Report’s “Recommendations”: (page 42)

    Below this heading, the report discusses recommendations under “Research”, “Practice”, “Education and Training”, “Public Policy” and “Public Awareness”.

    The authors give the impression that these recommendations are based on solid research and sound review of the literature about the sexualization of “girls”.  We have demonstrated, however, that this report has not presented valid and reliable evidence concerning the wholesale sexualization of “girls” and the alleged negative effects.

    The recommendations, therefore, present more as an ideological wish list, not necessarily inappropriate per se (particularly when issues of sex equality are considered) but based on values and attitudes concerning child sexuality others may not share.  The recommendations may be comforting for those who already “believe in the cause”, but as suggestions for further action based on reliable research go, they seem based on untested assumptions.

    Policy makers, practitioners, teachers, and also parents, might exercise caution in seeking to implement these recommendations, keeping in mind no valid evidence has been presented that “girls” (children) in general are adversely affected by “sexualization.”

    Differing opinions and attitudes about behaviors and practices these authors consider to be “sexualised” should be respected unless it can be conclusively demonstrated that they are harmful to girls (children).  The authors have not presented evidence they are.


This report’s attempt to present “girl sexualization” as a significant social problem has not succeeded.

    First, because the feminist psychologist authors have not demonstrated that their views about the expression of child sexuality are representative of American society, of psychologists, or those of other professions.  Relevant community prevalence research may not yet be available, but the writers do not even consider the possibility that others may not share their opinions, values and attitudes about “girl sexualization.”

    Second, the authors fail to provide valid and reliable evidence for the supposed problem.  Only fragmented research support is provided for the notion that girl sexualization is relevant or exists to a significant degree in the community (and that is dependent on what one believes “sexualization” to be), and no direct evidence is supplied that this may have negative effects on “girls” (children).  The report’s attempts to relate adolescent and adult findings to the reactions of children is untenable.

    This, together with the deceptive style of writing, makes this report unworthy to have been published on behalf of the American Psychological Association.


References judged to be broadly relevant to infants and children as mentioned under the headings “Introduction” and “Evidence for the Sexualization of Girls”:

Adler, P.A., Kless, S.J. & Adler, P. (1992) Socialization to gender roles: Popularity among elementary school boys and girls. Sociology of Education, 65, 169 – 187.

Brown, L.M. (2003) Girlfighting: Betrayal and rejection among girls. New York: New York University Press.

Brown, L.M. & Gilligan, C. (1992) Meeting at the crossroads: Women’s psychology and girls’ development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bussey, K. & Bandura, A. (1984) Influence of gender constancy and social power on sex-linked modeling. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1292-1302.

Cook, D.T. & Kaiser, S.B. (2004) Betwixt and between: Age ambiguity and the sexualization of the female consuming subject. Journal of Consumer Culture, 4, 203-227.

Friedrich, W.N., Fisher, J. L., Ditner, C.A., Acton, R., Berliner, L. & Butler, J. (2001). Child Sexual Behavior Inventory: Normative, psychiatric, and sexual abuse comparisons. Child Maltreatment, 6, 37-49. York: Wiley.

Kendall-Tackett, K.A., Williams, L.M., & Finkelhor, D. (1993). Impact of sexual abuse on children: A review and synthesis of recent empirical studies. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 164-180.

Lacroix, C. (2004). Images of animated others: The Orientalization of Disney’s cartoon heroines from the Little Mermaid to the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Popular Communication, 2, 213-229.

Lamb, S. (2002) The secret lives of girls: What good girls really do-Sex play, aggression, and their guilt. New York: Free Press.

Lamb, S. & Brown, L.M. (2006). Packaging girlhood: Rescuing our daughters from marketers’ schemes. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Letourneau, E.J., Schoenwald, S.K. & Sheidow, A.J. (2004). Children and adolescents with sexual behavior problems. Child Maltreatment, 9, 49-61.

Levin, D.E. (2005). So sexy, so soon: The sexualization of childhood. In S. Olfman (Ed). Childhood lost: How American culture is failing our kids (pp. 137-153). Westport, CT:Praeger Press.

Martin, K.A. (1998). Becoming a gendered body: Practices in preschools. American Sociological Review, 63, 494-511.

McHale, S.M., Crouter, A.C. & Tucker, C.J. (1999). Family context and gender role socialization in middle childhood: Comparing girls to boys and sisters to brothers. Child Development, 70, 990-1004.

Merskin, D. (2004). Reviving Lolita ? A media literacy examination of sexual portrayals of girls in fashion advertising. American Behavioral Scientist, 48, 119-129.

Merten, D.E. (2004). Securing her experience: Friendship versus popularity. Feminism and Psychology, 14, 361-365.

Nelson, A. (2000). The pink dragon is female: Halloween costumes and gender markers. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 137-144.

O’Donohue, W., Gold, S.R. & McKay, J.S. (1997). Children as sexual objects: Historical and gender trends in magazines. Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research & Treatment, 9, 291-301.

Paik, H. (2001). The history of children’s use of electronic media. In D.G. Singer & J.L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 7-27). Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage.

Roberts, D., Foehr, U. & Rideout, V. (2005). Generation M: Media in the lives of 8-18 year olds. Menio Park, C.A: Kaiser Family Foubndation.

Schor, J.B. (2004). Born to buy: The commercialized child and the new consumer culture. New York: Scribner.

Sutton-Smith, B. (1986). Toys as culture. New York: Gardner Press.

Tenenbaum, H.R. & Leaper, C. (2002) Are parents’ gender schemas related to their children’s gender-related congnition ? A meta-analysis. Developmental Psychology, 38, 615-630.

Thompson, T. & Zerbinos, E. (1997). Cartoons: Do children notice it’s a boy’s world ? Sex Roles, 37, 415-432.

Thorne, B. (1993). Gender play: Girls and boys in school. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Villimez, C., Eisenberg, N. & Carroll, J.L. (1986). Sex differences in the relation of children’s height and weight to academic performance and others’ attributions of competence. Sex Roles, 15, 667-681.

Zurbriggen, E.L. & Freyd, J.J. (2004). The link between child sexual abuse and risky sexual behavior: The role dissociative tendencies, information-processing effects, and consensual sex decision mechanisms. In L.J. Koenig, A. O’Leary, L.S. Doll, & W. Pequegnat (Eds.). From child sexual abuse to adult sexual risk: Trauma revictimization and intervention (pp. 117-134). Washinton, DC: American Psychological Association.


References judged to be broadly relevant to infants and children as mentioned under the heading “Consequences of the Sexualization of Girls”:

Atkin, C. (1982). Television advertising and socialization of consumer roles.  In D. Pearl (Ed.). Television and behavior: Ten years of scientific progress and implications for the eigthties (pp. 191-200). Rockville, MD: National Institute of Mental Health.

Baron, A.S. & Banaji, M.R. (2006). The development of implicit attitues: Evidence of race evaluations from ages 6 and 10 and adulthood. Psychological Science, 17, 53-58.

Borzekowski, D.L.G. & Robinson, T.N. (1999). Viewing the viewers: 10 video case studies of children’s television viewing behaviors. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 43, 506-528.

Brown, L.M. (1991). Telling a girl’s life: Self-authorization as a form of resistance. In C. Gilligan, A.G. Rogers, & D.L. Tolman (Eds.), Women, girls, and psychotherapy: Reframing resistance (pp. 71-86). New York: Harrington Park Press.

Browne, A. & Finkelhor, D. (1986). Impact of child sexual abuse: A review of the research. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 66-77.

Cook, D.T. & Kaiser, S.B. (2004) Betwixt and between: Age ambiguity and the sexualization of the female consuming subject. Journal of Consumer Culture, 4, 203-227.

Friedrich, W.N., Fisher, J.L., Ditner, C.A., Acton, R., Berliner, L. & Butler, J. (2001). Child Sexual Behavior Inventory: Normative, psychiatric, and sexual abuse comparisons. Child Maltreatment, 6, 37-49.

Greenberg, J. (2001). The ambiguity of seduction in the development of Freuds’s thinking. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 37, 417-426.

Harter, S. (1998). The development of self-representations. In W. Damon (Series Editor) & N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (5th ed., pp. 553-617. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Kendall-Tackett, K.A., Williams, L.M. & Finkelhor, D. (1993). Impact of sexual abuse on children: A review and synthesis of recent empirical studies. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 164-180.

Kindlon, D. & Thompson, M. (1999). Raising Cain: Protecting the emotional life of boys. New York: Ballantine Books.

Lewis, M. (2000). Self-conscious emotions: Embarrassment, pride, shame, and guilt. In M. Lewis & J.M. Haviland-Jones (Eds). Handbook of emotions (2nd ed., pp. 623-636). New York: Guilford Press.

Linn, S. (2005). The commercialization of childhood. In S. Olfman (Ed.), Childhood lost: How American culture is failing our kids (pp. 107-121). Westport, CT: Praeger Press.

Merskin, D. (2004). Reviving Lolita? A media literacy examination of sexual portrayals of girls in fashion advertising. American Behavioral Scientist, 48, 119-129.

Nadon, S.M., Koverola, C. & Schludermann, E.H. (1998). Antecedents to prostitution: Childhood victimization. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13, 206-221.

O’Donohue, W., Gold, S.R. & McKay, J.S. (1997). Children as sexual objects: Historical and gender trends in magazines. Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research & Treatment, 9, 291-301.

Paul, B. (2004). Testing the effects of exposure to virtual child pornography on viewer cognitions and attitudes toward deviant sexual behavior. Dissertation Abstracts International, 64(8A), 2693A.

Polce-Lynch, M., Myers, B.J. & Kilmartin, C.T. (1998). Gender and age patterns in emotional expression, body image and self-esteem: A qualitative analysis. Sex Roles, 38, 1025-1048.

Pollack, W. (1998). Real boys: Rescuing our sons from the myths of boyhood. New York: Random House.

President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. (1997). Physical activity and sport in the lives of girls: Executive summary. Washington, DC:U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Putnam, F.W. (1990). Disturbances of “self” in victims of childhood sexual abuse. In R. Kluft (Ed.), Incest-related syndromes of adult psychopathology (pp. 113-131). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Rachman, A.W.M., Kennedy, R. & Yard, M. (2005). The role of childhood sexual seduction in the development of an erotic transference: Perversion in the psychoanalytic situation. International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 14, 183-187.

Roberton, M .A. & Halverson, I.E. (1984). Developing children: Their changing movements. New York: Lea & Febiger.

Rutti, R. (1997, January 27). Putting gender into the equation: Single sex classes seem to add up. The Plain Dealer, p. 1B.

Scharff, J.S. & Scharff, D. E. (1994). Object relations therapy of physical and sexual trauma. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.

Shengold, L. (1989). Soul murder: The effects of childhood abuse and deprivation. New York: Ballantine Books.

Silbert, M.H. & Pines, A.M. (1981). Sexual child abuse as an antecedent to prostitution. Child Abuse & Neglect, 5, 407-411.

Silbert, M.H. & Pines, A.M. (1982). Entrance into prostitution. Youth and Society, 13, 471-500.

Simpkins, S.D., Davis-Kean, P.E. & Eccles, J.S. (2006). Math and science motivation: A longitudinal examination of the links between choices and beliefs. Developmental Psychology, 42, 70-83.

Smolak, L. & Murnen, S.K. (2002). A meta-analytic examination of the relationship between child sexual abuse and eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31, 136-150.

Strasburger, V.C. & Wilson, B.J. (2002). Children, adolescents and the media. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage.

Warin, J. (2000). The attainment of self-consistency through gender in young children. Sex Roles, 42,2009-231.

Young, I.M. (1980). Throwing like a girl: A phenomenology of feminine body comportment motility and spatiality. Human Studies, 3, 137-156.

Another reference mentioned in the present paper and also copied from the report is:

Lambiase, J. (2003). Sex–Online and in Internet advertising. In T. Reichert & J. Lambiase (Eds). Sex in advertising: Perspectives on the erotic appeal (pp. 247-269). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

A reference mentioned in the text of the report (page 30) but not in its “References” is:

Moore, 2003.

* Arnold Veraa is a former social worker and psychologist in child protective services, Melbourne.  [Back]

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