Journalists, child advocacy organizations, parents and psychologists have argued that the sexualization of girls is a broad and increasing problem and is harmful to girls.
The APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls was formed in response to these expressions of public concern.
APA has long been involved in issues related to the impact of media content on children.
In 2004, the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children produced a report examining broad issues related to advertising to children.
That report provided recommendations to restrict advertising that is primarily directed at young children and to include developmentally appropriate disclaimers in advertising, as well as recommendations regarding research, applied psychology, industry practices, media literacy, advertising and schools.
In 2005, APA adopted the policy resolution on *Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media (PDF, 89KB), which documented the negative impact of exposure to violent interactive media on children and youth and called for the reduction of violence in these media.
These resolutions and reports addressed how violent media and advertising affect children and youth, but they did not address sexualization.
But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them.
Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualization by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.Virtually every media form studied provides ample evidence of the sexualization of women, including television, music videos, music lyrics, movies, magazines, sports media, video games, the Internet and advertising (e.g., Gow, 1996; Grauerholz & King, 1997; Krassas, Blauwkamp,& Wesselink, 2001, 2003; Lin, 1997; Plous & Neptune, 1997; Vincent, 1989; Ward, 1995).Some studies have examined forms of media that are especially popular with children and adolescents, such as video games and teen-focused magazines.The APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls was tasked with examining the psychological theory, research and clinical experience addressing the sexualization of girls via media and other cultural messages, including the prevalence of these messages and their impact on girls and the role and impact of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.The task force was charged with producing a report, including recommendations for research, practice, education and training, policy and public awareness.This report examines and summarizes psychological theory, research and clinical experience addressing the sexualization of girls.