Child abuse and neglect in the media

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See more resources on Child abuse and neglect in the media in the AIFS library catalogue

Children protection, politics and procrastination : the discourse of deferral.

Schulz P
Children Australia v. 43 no. 1 Mar 2018: 13-22
The Discourse of Child Protection and its ensuing political responses are discussed here following a 6 month analysis of media platforms in which child protection reforms were recommended following child abuse and neglect reports. The headlines, in social and other media were analysed to identify the significant aspects of reactions to horrifying tales, stories and reports of child deaths, injuries and other abuses. Clear evidence emerges of a disturbing discourse of deferral and political inaction that is only relieved when inquiries and Royal Commissions advocate strong and immediate changes. In addition, this study shows that lacunae (or what is missing in text or discourse) show that the voice of children is only heard after the event of horrific abuse and often relies on whistle-blowers or advocates. Despite the warnings and research of many distinguished child protection academics a cycle emerges which needs to reflect community desires to protect children via legislation and stronger regulations. Further, some inquiries have indicated stronger regulation and training of beleaguered child welfare staff.

Understanding the media's role in child abuse policy : framing and agenda setting in Australian policy.

Wearing M
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 43 Dec 2015: 53-65
This article considers how the media help reform child abuse policy in Australia, using the Agenda Setting and Policy Making Streams model.

Do abused children deserve investigative journalism? A case study.

Liddell M and Liddell M
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 43 Dec 2015: 17-28
This article argues that the media has a role in bringing to light cases of institutional abuse, based around a discussion of the case of English migrant children sent to Fairbridge Farm in New South Wales in the mid-20th century.

The perfect storm : politics, media and child welfare policy making.

Harrison C, Harries M and Liddiard M
Communities, Children and Families Australia v. 8 no. 2 Dec 2014: 29-45
This paper is the first of a series emerging from a study of the practice of policy creation when a child welfare event comes to the notice of the public as a scandal and engages the attention of politicians and the media. The daily newspaper 'The West Australian' reported extensively on the Coroner's finding into the death of an 1 month old toddler, Wade Scale, known to the child protection department. Debate and policy responses in the West Australian Parliament during the period of four months in 2006 are used as a case study to explore and identify the policy proposals that emerge out of a politicized landscape. The aim was the development of a theoretical framework and practical strategies to enable the public to have a more nuanced understanding of this complex issue and develop more supportive practice models for vulnerable families. The analysis identified specific policies dominated by a discourse of blame and regulation.

Australian print media framing of mandatory reporting.

Gillespie K, McCosker L, Lonne B and Marston G
Communities, Children and Families Australia v. 8 no. 2 Dec 2014: 13-28
Mandatory reporting is a key aspect of Australia's approach to protecting children and is incorporated into all jurisdictions' legislation, albeit in a variety of forms. In this article we examine all major newspaper's coverage of mandatory reporting during an 18-month period in 2008-2009, when high-profile tragedies and inquiries occurred and significant policy and reform agendas were being debated. Mass media utilise a variety of lenses to inform and shape public responses and attitudes to reported events. We use frame analysis to identify the ways in which stories were composed and presented, and how language portrayed this contested area of policy. The results indicate that within an overall portrayal of system failure and the need for reform, the coverage placed major responsibility on child protection agencies for the over-reporting, under-reporting, and overburdened system identified, along with the failure of mandatory reporting to reduce risk. The implications for ongoing reform are explored along with the need for robust research to inform debate about the merits of mandatory reporting.

The story of Baby P : setting the record straight

Jones R
Bristol, UK : Policy Press, 2014.
"In England in 2007 Peter Connelly, a 17 month old little boy - known initially in the media reporting as 'Baby P' - died following terrible neglect and abuse. Fifteen months later, his mother, her boyfriend and the boyfriend's brother were sent to prison. But media attention turned on those who worked to protect children, especially the social workers and their managers, who became the focus of the reporting and of the blame. Five years later they are still harassed by press reporters. This book tells what happened to 'Baby P', how the story was told and became focused on the social workers, its threatening consequences for those who work to protect children, and its considerable impact on the child protection system in England. This is the first book to draw together all evidence available on this high profile case and will make a unique and crucial contribution to the topic."

How do Australian print media representations of child abuse and neglect inform the public and system reform?

Lonne B and Gillespie K
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 38 no. 5 May 2014: 837-850
This article reviews how the print media present stories on child abuse in Australia, including incident details, story voice, victim and offender details, system or institution involvement, and links to wider issues of policy, children's rights, income support, mandatory reporting, or social or cultural risk factors. The article discusses the findings and the impact of this reporting on public knowledge and opinion.

Portrayals of child abuse scandals in the media in Australia and England : impacts on practice, policy, and systems.

Lonne B and Parton N
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 38 no. 5 May 2014: 822-836
This article critiques how the media in Australia and England have portrayed local child abuse scandals and child protection services, and the stakeholder and system issues involved. Positive or negative portrayals in the media have an impact on a broad range of aspects, from public trust and awareness, to the politicisation of child abuse, to child protection risk aversion and staff morale.

Family, courts and media discourses : the contested spaces of time, and the politics of the protection of children.

Schulz P
Children Australia v. 37 no. 4 Dec 2012: 142-150
This article, which is built on media discourse analysis, provides an insight into how public opinion on the work of courts has developed into a discourse of disapproval. The discourse of time is often used to evaluate the work of courts and tends to meet with disapproval when related to sentencing and when the Family Court fails to deliver equal parental access to children. The Family Court is also the subject of discourses of fear within the media, with stories often focusing on child abuse and horror stories of neglect designed to attract and recruit an audience to media outlets. In addition, the discourses facing the Family Court are now firmly tied to time as a major aspect of decision-making. Because of this contested view, child protection may be reduced to a secondary perspective. This paper recommends a change to discourses surrounding courts by all parties in order to facilitate better understanding.

The terms on which child abuse is made to matter : media representations of the Aurukun case.

Due C and Riggs D
Australian Feminist Studies v. 27 no. 71 Mar 2012: 3-18
This article reviews the media coverage of a child rape case from an Indigenous community. In 2007, not long after the Northern Territory Intervention was implemented, a case was heard regarding the gang rape of a 10-year old Indigenous girl in the remote community of Aurukun in Queensland. This article critiques the media representations of Indigenous communities and white authority, with reference also to the political context at the time.

Sex crime and the media : sex offending and the press in a divided society

Greer C
London : Routledge, 2012, c2003.
"Sex crime has become one of the most intense areas of public and political concern in recent decades. This book explores the complex influences that shape its construction in the press. Media representations give important cues as to how we should perceive the nature and extent of sex crime, how we should think and feel about it, how we should respond to it, and the measures that might be taken to reduce risk. Understanding the media construction of sex crime is central to understanding its meaning and place in our everyday lives. Unlike much of the existing research, this book explores the construction of sex crime at every stage of the news production process. It then locates the findings within a wider context of cultural, economic and political change in late modernity."

Are social marketing campaigns effective in preventing child abuse and neglect?

Horsfall B, Bromfield L and McDonald M
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2010.
Social marketing campaigns are a common strategy for raising awareness about social problems such as child abuse and neglect. However, questions have been raised about the role social marketing campaigns could play, and their potential efficacy in the prevention of child abuse and neglect and in supporting vulnerable children and families. In this NCPC issues paper, evidence for the impact of media-based social marketing campaigns related to child protection, parenting and child abuse prevention are examined.

The effectiveness of social marketing campaigns : the recent Adult Survivors of Child Abuse 'Father of the Bride' advertisement [Discussion section - Public education media campaigns]

Bromfield L
ACSSA Aware no. 24 2010: 18-19
This article is part of a discussion series focusing on public education media campaigns in the areas of childhood sexual abuse. In the article, the author reflects on the strategy of the recent 'Father of the Bride' media campaign, which was run in 2009 by the advocacy organisation Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA). The deliberately controversial campaign aimed to use shock tactics to address taboos and stigma surrounding the issues, and to generate discussion. The author considers her personal response to the advert, its intended aims, and concludes that there is a need for more research on strategies for effective social marketing for changing community attitudes.

What's wrong with the Adult Survivors of Child Abuse 'Father of the Bride' campaign? [Discussion section - Public education media campaigns]

Caro J
ACSSA Aware no. 24 2010: 17-18
This article is part of a discussion series focusing on public education media campaigns in the areas of childhood sexual abuse. In the article, the author reviews the recent 'Father of the Bride' media campaign, which was run in 2009 by the advocacy organisation Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA). The deliberately controversial campaign aimed to use shock tactics to address taboos and stigma surrounding the issues, and to generate discussion. However, the author argues that instead the campaign sends the wrong message to child abuse victims and the general public, and could cause additional harm.

Constructing a controversial media campaign [Discussion section - Public education media campaigns]

Kezelman C
ACSSA Aware no. 24 2010: 15-16
This article is part of a discussion series focusing on public education media campaigns in the areas of childhood sexual abuse. Despite the increased media coverage of child abuse stories, there is little community awareness of the long-term impacts of childhood sexual abuse. In response, the advocacy organisation Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) developed a confronting media campaign to address the taboos and stigma surrounding the issues, and to generate discussion. This article describes the development and development of their controversial 'Father of the Bride' media campaign, which ran in 2009.

Public education media campaigns [special section]

Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault
ACSSA Aware no. 24 2010: 14-15
This journal issue features a discussion series focusing on public education media campaigns in the areas of childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault prevention, with a focus on the recent - and controversial - 'Father of the Bride? campaign initiated by the Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA). This editorial highlights the issues involved, and introduces the featured articles.

Sexualisation of young people: review

Papadopoulos L
London : Home Office, 2010.
"The sexualisation of young people review has been conducted by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, as part of the [British] government's strategy to tackle violence against women and girls. The review looks at how sexualised images and messages may be affecting the development of children and young people and influencing cultural norms. It also examines the evidence for a link between sexualisation and violence."

One woman's activism : refusing to be silent.

Gale J
Tankard Reist, Melinda, ed. Getting real : challenging the sexualisation of girls. North Melbourne, Vic. : Spinifex Press, 2009. 9781876756758: 179-192
This chapter explains how the author became a campaigner against the sexualisation of children. Beginning from her objections as a parent to an offensive billboard in her neighbourhood, the author describes examples of her speaking out against potential harm to children, and calls for all people to not remain silent.

Getting real : challenging the sexualisation of girls

Tankard Reist M
North Melbourne, Vic. : Spinifex Press, 2009.
This book describes the sexualisation and objectification of girls and women in western culture. Chapters include: The Right of Children to be Children, by Noni Hazlehurst; The Pornification of Girlhood: We Haven't Come a Long Way Baby, by Melinda Tankard Reist; What Are the Risks of Premature Sexualisation for Children?, by Emma Rush; The Seduction of Girls: The Human Cost, by Maggie Hamilton; Sex on the Street: Outdoor Advertising and the Sexual Harassment of Women , by Lauren Rosewarne; The Psychological and Developmental Impact of Sexualisation on Children, by Louise Newman; Good is the New Bad: Rethinking Sexual Freedom , by Clive Hamilton; The Faking It Project: What Research Tells Us about Magazines in Young Women's Lives, by Selena Ewing; The Gaze that Dare Not Speak its Name: Bill Henson and Child Sexual Abuse Moral Panics, by Abigail Bray; Media Glamourising of Prostitution and Other Sexually Exploitative Cultural Practices that Harm Children, by Melissa Farley; The Harmful Medicalisation of Sexualised Girls, by Renate Klein; Sexualised and Trivialised: Making Equality Impossible, by Betty McLellan; How Girlhood Was Trashed and What We Can Do to Get it Back: A Father's View, by Steve Biddulph; Finding the Courage to Get Real, by Tania Andrusiak; and One Woman's Activism: Refusing to Be Silent, by Julie Gale.

Sensationalising sex offenders and sexual recidivism : impact of the Serious Sex Offender Monitoring Act 2005 on media reportage.

Ducat L, Thomas S and Blood W
Australian Psychologist v. 44 no. 3 Sep 2009 Child maltreatment special issue: 156-165
Differences in extent and nature of newspaper media reporting before and after the introduction of the Serious Sex Offender Monitoring Act 2005 in Victoria were investigated, critically exploring the interface between psychological, media and criminological disciplines. Forty-three news items before the Act and 90 after the Act were analysed using a thematic and discursive framework. A significant increase in the number of items was found after the Act but other discursive and thematic findings were mixed. Several indicators of sensationalism such as headline size, tone, and theme did not differ between time frames, while there was a significant increase in the incidence of case-based and high-profile case reporting after the introduction of the Act. Hence, although the discourse and frames within which serious sex offenders are reported has remained similar over time, the introduction of the Act has dramatically impacted on the frequency of reporting in such cases. The findings are congruent with the extant literature on the newsworthiness of child sexual offending, indicating a need for media outlets to be more responsible in their reporting, and for legislators to enact legislation based upon empirical evidence.

The sexualization of childhood

Olfman S
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2009.
"... Children begin formal education now in preschool, dress like adults, listen to the same music, play the same video games, explore the same Internet sites, and watch explicit depictions of sex and violence on TV and in movies. What is the impact of immersing children in a sexualized world? 'The Sexualization of Childhood' first explains the nature of healthy sexual development. It then explores the ways in which children are being sexualized, and the physical and psychological consequences. The book also looks at the lower and lower age at which girls are experiencing puberty, that reduction being fuelled by the pseudoestrogens in so many of our foods and products, as well as by obesity. Finally, it examines what we can do - legally politically, and as caregivers - to protect children from developmentally inappropriate sexual experiences."

Engaging the community in child protection programs : the experience of Newpin in Australia.

Mondy L and Mondy S
Mondy, Linda, ed. Mondy, Stephen, ed. Newpin : courage to change together : helping families achieve generational change. North Parramatta, NSW : UnitingCare Burnside, 2009. 9781920839277: 145-151
Newpin, a centre based intensive child protection and parent education intervention program for children under five years and their parents, has been operating in three disadvantaged areas of western Sydney and two sites in Tasmania and Victoria since the late 1990s. This chapter describes ways in which Newpin has set out to engage communities with regard to child protection issues. It discusses joint advocacy, the media and ethical issues.

Social work and child maltreatment intervention in Disney animated feature films, 1937-2006.

Hubka D, Tonmyr L and Hovdestad W
Australian Social Work v. 62 no. 1 Mar 2009: 99-112
The 45 Disney animated feature films produced between 1937 and 2006 were analysed for representations of child maltreatment and child maltreatment interventions according to criteria set out in the US National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect. Although there are 263 maltreated child characters in 30 of the 45 films, they seldom show formal interventionists at work. The types of resolutions and interventions to child maltreatment in the films were analysed and contrasted with the single depiction of a social worker. The actions of this character were assessed according to national codes of ethics and standards for social worker interventions and decision making. Implications are drawn for the profession of social work and the findings are discussed within the context of previously published analyses of media representations of social workers.

Child sexual abuse : media representations and government reactions

Davidson J
Milton Park England : Routledge-Cavendish, 2008.
"This book aims to critically evaluate the development of policy and legislative measures to control sex offenders. The last 15 years has seen increasing concern on the part of the government, criminal justice agencies, the media and the public, regarding child sexual abuse. This concern has been prompted by a series of events including cases inviting media attention and involving the abduction, sexual abuse and murder of young children. The response to this wave of child sexual abuse revelation has been to introduce increasingly punitive legislation regarding the punishment and control of sex offenders - the only group of offenders in British legal history to have their own act - both in custody and in the community. Against the backdrop of a crisis in public confidence regarding the behaviour of child protection professionals, it is argued here that legislation has developed in a reactionary way in response to media and public anxiety regarding the punishment and control of sex offenders, and the perceived threat of such offenders in the community."

Organised abuse and the politics of disbelief.

Salter M
Cunneen, Chris, ed. Salter, Michael, ed. Proceedings of the 2nd Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference : 19-20 June 2008, Sydney, Australia. Sydney, NSW : Crime and Justice Research Newtork, University of New South Wales, 2008. 9780646507378: 243-283
This paper examines public and media suspicion of cases of organised and ritual child abuse. It includes media reactions to high profile ritual child abuse cases in America, the backlash against child protection, the rise of false memory syndrome debates in Australia, and the social dynamics of memory, credibility and disbelief.

Moral panics over contemporary children and youth

Krinsky C
Farnham, England : Ashgate, 2008.

Beyond zero tolerance: key issues and future directions for family violence work in New Zealand.

Fanslow J
Wellington, NZ : Families Commission, 2005
This report provides an overview of New Zealand's responses to family violence and current trends in government and community initiatives. It discusses definitions of family violence, child abuse, elder abuse and intimate partner violence; incidence and prevalence of these types of violence; consequences of these types of violence; programs and service approaches to child abuse; deaths and hospitalisations from partner violence and elder abuse; risk factors for child abuse, elder abuse and partner violence; recognising diversity in perpetration of violence and differences in coping trajectories for 'targets of violence'; intervention and prevention efforts for partner violence, child abuse and elder abuse; health care interventions; school and employer based programs; gender; mass media campaigns; advocacy; legal responses to partner violence; arrest policies and alternative sanctions; interventions for batterers; coordinated community responses; co occurrence of child abuse and partner abuse; economic costs; a framework for violence prevention; and policy and research recommendations.

Child sexual abuse.

Healey J
Thirroul, NSW : Spinney Press, 2005
Current information about child sexual abuse from diverse sources including newspapers, magazines, websites, government reports and other organisations is collected in this publication. It is divided into two main sections: Victims of child sexual abuse and Child sex offenders. The following subtopics are covered: incidence and impact; myths; facts about sexual assault; sibling sexual abuse; rise in sex abuse between children; the link between pornography and young sex offenders; indicators of child sexual abuse; effects; reporting child sexual abuse; children and counselling; information for survivors; offender characteristics and modus operandi; paedophile database; the right to silence of the accused and abuse of children under five years; protecting your child; children stalked on the internet; child abusers abroad; child sexual abuse within the church; and why offenders abuse children.

The rapist's camouflage: 'child prostitution'.

Goddard C, De Bortoli L, Saunders B and Tucci J
Child Abuse Review v. 14 no. 4 Jul/Aug 2005 275-291
Is child prostitution more closely related to adult prostitution or to child sexual abuse? This article examines the social construction of the word 'prostitution' and the phenomenon of textual abuse, which refers to language that objectifies and exploits children. It presents results of a research study that analysed the contexts in which the phrase 'child prostitution' is used in print media and in major international government and non government documents.

Reframing public discourse on child abuse in Australia.

Foster A
Child Abuse Prevention Newsletter (Print) v. 13 no. 1 Summer 2005 14-16
The official 2004 figures for child abuse in Australia show that ten per cent of cases involved sexual abuse, eleven per cent experienced emotional maltreatment, 36 per cent concerned neglect and 43 per cent were due to physical abuse. This article points out that over the last year, child abuse reporting in the Australian media has had an overwhelming focus on child sexual abuse, and in particular on child pornography. Noting the media's ability to shape public discourse and consequently to influence government funding, the article stresses the need to focus attention on the aspects of child abuse that do the most collective harm; that is, physical abuse and neglect. It also underlines the importance of funding initiatives that address the causes rather than the manifestations of child abuse, arguing that the most effective child protection strategies are preventative solutions that deal with social disadvantage and marginalisation.
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