Delegates were alarmed at the extent to which the premature sexualisation of children is taking place in Australia.
Author and campaigner Maggie Hamilton told the delegates that sexualisation of children is now a serious concern, not only for parents and families, but for communities right across Australia:
1. young children are continually being exposed to inappropriate, hyper-sexualised advertising on clothing, billboards, TV, internet, video-games, and in music;
2. girls are portrayed as sexual at younger ages, and pressured to conform to a ‘thin, hot, sexy’ norm;
3. the effects of sexualising children has seen a rise in self-destructive behaviours such as eating disorders and self-harm, along with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
Delegates voted to take action to better protect the rights of young children:
We, as representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia, gathered at the national quinquennial meetings of the Australian Union Conference (8th September 2010) choose to do all we can to bring an end to inappropriate marketing to young children.
1. we support all current community efforts that seek to provide tighter regulation of age-appropriate material to any children under the age of twelve;
2. we call upon community, civil and religious leaders, as well as local, state and federal legislative and regulatory personnel to ensure all efforts are made to end the sexualisation of children;
3. we call upon the Advertising Standards Board to make the necessary changes to standards of practice in media that will better protect the rights of young children;
4. we recommend that the Australian Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists research and produce specialised resources that will assist parents and teachers to deal more effectively with issues regarding the sexualisation of children.
Maggie Hamilton, who attended the Seventh-day Adventist meetings as a guest, has worked in public and private sectors, has held senior roles in book publishing and with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and as advisor to the Australian prime minister and cabinet.