Media has a role to play in curbing violence against girls


I’m sad and sickened by news that a wacko with a sexual fantasy targeted high school girls, “traumatized and assaulted” his hostages and killed a 16-year old.

Normal dads will no doubt bear the brunt of paranoid profiling on campus for awhile, as this guy’s mug stayed posted on CNN Int’l all day. The focus? His attack was ‘sexual in nature’, wreaking havoc on teens and singling out girls as his prey.

Sadly, this carries a twisted element of American Beauty meets Columbine with a tonality befitting a “made for tv movie.”

Some shlump agent is already on the phone securing rights, as frenzied reporters thrust microphones into the faces of terrorized girls for “reactions.”

If news outlets pump up coverage on the sicko’s sexual side it gives pedophiles a drooling point, fresh new ideas and a cycle that continues to put even our youngest K-5 girls at risk.

I’m not saying snuff the story, I’m saying there’s an opportunity for a bigger dialogue about media messaging beyond girls as tabloid fodder.

We all know “sex sells” but let’s look at building awareness over coinage, education over exploitation, and own up to the role sensationalism and titillation plays in triggering further violence against women.

For more tips consult: “Toolkit to end violence against girls and women” from the NCJRS, National Criminal Justice Reference Service.

What the Mass Media Can Do

Refuse to justify, glamorize, sanitize, sensationalize or normalize violence.

Establish industry task forces to respond to concerns raised about children and media violence. (e.g. monitor advertising that targets children or explore the consequences of portraying violence against women & girls in music/videos)

Encourage collaboration to prevent digital media crimes, including child sexual exploitation, the distribution of child pornography, and cyberstalking.

Donate air time to organizations that oppose violence, specifically violence against girls & women. Reinforce via online resources.

Work with advocates, parents, and researchers in the fields of sexual assault and domestic violence to promote music, music videos, and music Web sites that reflect values consistent with ending violence against women and girls.

Develop story lines, images, characters, programs, and products that promote healthy attitudes toward women, masculinity, relationships, and sexuality.

Employ the power of the media, entertainment, and advertising industries to prevent teen violence, and support efforts to reduce children’s exposure to media violence.

Demonstrate that portraying violence in the news, advertisements, entertainment and sports programs, children’s programming, and other areas has a negative impact.

Teach other media pros by integrating training about violence against women into trade conferences, continuing education courses, newsletters, and other educational outlets.

Focus prevention messages on girls and boys in high school, middle school, and earlier to influence attitudes and behaviors.

Select nonviolent male and female role models to endorse products and present nonviolent, non-aggressive images and messages when targeting children in programming or advertising.

Develop culturally relevant public awareness campaigns on violence against women, targeting populations not typically reached through general outreach. Use tailored language and messengers advocating prevention across wide cross-cultural mediums.

Provide the full context of violence-related news events such as crimes of self-defense by women to inform the public about the relationship between crimes and violence against women.

Increase the capacity of state and local law enforcement and criminal justice systems to investigate and prosecute Internet crimes more effectively.

Above all, media must stop glamorizing, romanticizing and sexualizing content under the auspices of violence prevention!!

We need to recognize that mass media is critical in communicating a responsible voice to curb violence against girls and women. As it is, hyper-sexualized environs have created a minefield that even young K-5 elementary girls are faced with dodging daily.

G-string bikinis and thongs in size 6X, provocative poses and boy-toy messages didn’t just get there on their own. Media and marketing created a tween porn, pole-dancer dynamic…..Yet industry titans continue to skate on the responsibility front, regardless of infiltrating pre-pubescent pop culture.

Children’s mental AND physical lives are at stake as our society spawns lascivious lech nutcases determined to act out their twisted fantasies on our youth.

Former school shootings have provoked outrage and awareness, even making an interconnected leap linking media violence and video games…so just maybe…

MAYBE the Bailey, Colorado story will prompt examination of the violence, over-sexualized imagery, and clear and present danger we’re producing for our girls.



  1. Hi,

    The article is enlightening. It just shows that we have to make a begining somewhere to stop the wrong image of women being portrayed. It is not just about that. It is about protecting our girls and making them stronger and better people.

  2. Agree with you both…and as child advocacy parents/peers we need to let out a rebel yell when we see content directed to tweens/teens with trickle down impact on soul erosion and violent messages…Here’s a letter one of my colleagues just wrote me about our outrage re: the new movie coming out called “Choke” with a girls’ legs dangling out of a mouth in the silhouette promo…eesh. The Banner is on MySpace, home to most 8th graders these days…dang it’s toxic!

    “Amy—I just saw the ad for Choke, new movie, on myspace.I was disgusted.I am friends with ceo and co founder chris dewolfe. I shot him an email. If you dont have an account with myspace make one. If you do log on and check it out the pix of the girl in the guys mouth with legs kicking boiled my blood. Then the raunchy trailer that any kid can access as long as they put in they are 18 is just way too much sex..
    its just wrong for that to be on a site for teens. wow. I am so upset with Myspace…I used to defend them to parents… used properly its a fun place but if this is their idea how to drum up new money etc.. I’m outta there!”

    Followed by Dr. Jenn For Girls’ crusade directly to the founder,

    “Amy, Chris Dewolfe wrote back to me that he will look into the matter. I feel confident that he will. That feels good. I don’t think they want the bad press and I would like to think this just slipped by them. Chris and his wife Laurie seem to be on “our side.” Have emailed laurie a few times. –Jenn”

    If you don’t know of Jenn’s site, here it is, readers:

    She’s doing great work on this issue and many more!!!

    Thanks for your comments, gang…keep up the efforts!

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