Parents Television Council Launches Site with Study on Sexualization of Teen Girls

I was privileged to be part of a conference call this morning with Tim Winter, PTC president, Dr. L. Monique Ward, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, and member of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, Nicole Clark, director of the documentary film Cover Girl Culture and former Elite International fashion model, Jeff McIntyre, director of national policy, Children Now and chair of the Children’s Media Policy Coalition, and Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the Parents Television Council, along with reporters for the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter and yours truly, among others, were made aware of this organization's call to action with a new study released today, Tinseltown's New Target: A study of Teen Female Sexualization on Primetime TV, to control the sexualization of teen girls 12 to 17 years old in the media. 

Nicole Clark drove the point home with impassioned statements fueled by her deep personal emotions about this collaborative effort to protect the innocence and shortened childhood of our children, especially girls,  from the media's obsession with them. “Why can't the media be on our side?” she asked trying to hold back tears. The former model will be on CNN tomorrow at 7:40am.

PTC president Winter will be on ABC “Good Morning America Thursday, between 8-8:30 to discuss the findings of the study and the launch of a new website dedicated to issues of sexualization of teens.

If you are one of the many concerned parents who has started to second guessss your judgment about the age-inappropriate content delivered to your home through the overwhelming number of offensive television shows directed at your teens, you are not alone! Armed with the information in this new report, adults can take action to “instigate change”.

PTC Study: Sexualized Teen Girls Are Tinseltown's New Target

LOS ANGELES (December 15, 2010) – In a new report, the Parents Television Council™details the nature and extent of Hollywood's obsession with sexualizing teen girls. The PTC report, Tinseltown’s New Target: A study of Teen Female Sexualization on Primetime TV, is based on a content analysis of the most popular primetime broadcast shows among 12 to 17-year-olds during the 2009-2010 TV season. To view PTC's full report, visit:

PTC found that when underage female characters appear on screen: more sexual content is depicted; the teen girls show next to no negative response to being sexualized; more sexual incidents occur outside of any form of a committed relationship; and there is less accuracy in the TV content rating.

 “The results from this report show Tinseltown's eagerness to not only objectify and fetishize young girls, but to sexualize them in such a way that real teens are led to believe their sole value comes from their sexuality. This report is less about the shocking numbers that detail the sickness of early sexualization in our entertainment culture and more about the generation of young girls who are being told how society expects them to behave,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“Storylines on the most popular shows among teens are sending the message to our daughters that being sexualized isn't just acceptable, it should be sought after. It is outrageous that TV executives have made it their business to profit off of programs that depict teen girls blissfully being sexualized by casual partners and only showing disapproval for being sexualized five percent of the time.

“The TV networks really stick it to families by leaving off the 'S' descriptor to warn them about this type of sexual content a shocking 75 percent of the time. But parents and the PTC aren't just asking for more warning, we are asking the entertainment industry to take immediate steps to reverse this trend.

“It will take action from parents, actors themselves, and advertisers who pay for TV content – not to mention awareness on the part of the public and our elected representatives – to instigate change. Combining the pervasiveness of teen sexualization with the well-documented research on the consequences – everything from body dissatisfaction to depression – should be more than enough.

“To any parent of a pre-teen or teenage girl, the harm of sexualized imagery is readily apparent. We cannot allow our daughters, not to mention boys and adult men, to accept the message that women should be valued only for their sex appeal – even if it seems every magazine cover, billboard, movie, and television program convey that message,” Winter concluded.

Nielsen data was used to identify the top 25 shows for ages 12 to 17. Analysts focused on scripted, primetime broadcast programming on the top 25 list which aired during the first two weeks of the November 2009 sweeps period (October 29, 2009 – November 11, 2009) and the May 2010 sweeps period (April 29, 2010 – May 12, 2010). The data was reviewed based on numerous different factors ranging from the genre of the program to the gender of the initiator and the participant‟ attitude toward the sexualizing incident.

Major Findings:

.Underage female characters are shown participating in a higher percentage of sexual depictions compared to adults (47% and 29% respectively).

.Only 5% of the underage female characters communicated any form of dislike for being sexualized (excluding scenes depicting healthy sexuality).

.Out of all the sexualized female characters depicted in the underage and young adult category for the entire database, 86% were presented as only being of high school age.

.Seventy-five percent of shows that included sexualized underage female characters were shows that did not have an “S” descriptor to warn parents about the sexual content.

.Based upon a definition established by the American Psychological Association of “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” sexuality, the study findings show that 93% of the sexual incidents involving underage female characters occurred within a context that qualified as “unhealthy.”

.The data revealed that 98% of the sexual incidents involving underage female characters occurred outside of any form of a committed relationship.

.The data show that 73% of the underage sexualized incidents were presented in a humorous manner or as a punch line to a joke.

To view additional web content including images, video examples and the full study, visit PTC‟s female sexualization website at The Parents Television Council® (®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members and 56 chapters across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC™also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.

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