« Previous | Main | Next »

Too Much Too Young - join in the debate

In Too Much Too Young, Panorama tackles the thorny subject of sexuality and children.

A generation ago the debate used to be about whether children could cope with sex education being taught in school.

Now concern rages over provocative clothing, suggestive dancing on prime time TV and easy access to pornography for youngsters.

The programme has found evidence that almost a quarter of children aged 9-16 have seen some form of pornography in the last year - through the internet, television, magazines or DVDs.

Perhaps more worrying is that of those, 41% of their parents believed that their children had not seen any porn images.

The sexualisation of our children has hit the headlines again recently - some groups claiming that even mainstream television shows are part of the problem, with digital rights campaigners arguing the debate has been hijacked by reactionary forces.

Sophie Raworth, a mother of three, goes behind the headlines to discover what images young people are being exposed to and asks what impact the sexualised world is having on our children.

Is Too Much Too Young putting them at risk?

We welcome your thoughts on the programme. Please leave this forum to leave a comment.


  • Comment number 1.

    Panorama welcomes your thoughts on the programme. Leave your comment on this forum.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hello. I understand a documentary will be taking place tonite, 10/01/2011. Called 'Too much, too young.' Some time ago I produced an accademic dissertation called 'Too much too young.' I was wondering when and where you got this information?? I feel as though my own work and time should be recognised!

  • Comment number 3.

     Not all girls will become controlled by these ‘sexual fashions’ though an increasing number may be. If we use Success Feelosophy here - the study (science and philosophy) of success - then it will be seen that the key factor to consider will be the development of the 8 skills we need to succeed and improve well being. The research shows that “Successful people have learnt the skills to overcome the difficulties they meet”.
    Our society needs to focus much more on helping our children develop the 8 skills we need to succeed to resist these temptations.
    1. Effective learning
    2. Communication - includes
    •Attention span and intensity of focus (‘in the zone’)
    • Verbal skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing)
    • Non-verbal skills (visual gestures, body language, touch)
    3. Cognitive (thought) skills
    4. Self awareness
    5. Managing feelings (delaying gratification)
    6. Motivation (includes resilience)
    7. Empathy
    8. Social skills

  • Comment number 4.

    Your programme appears to be a copy of my daughters dissertation - even down to the title. Didn't see her name in the credits unfortunately.

  • Comment number 5.

    At last the powers that be are thinking straight. Children under 13 are not mini adults, should not dress like they are out for a night on the town.
    As a grandmother of 9, the eldest being a 12 yr old grandaughter i am very concerned about the lack of childhood of our children. there is nothing to aspire to, colouring hair, painting nails, first bra, first pair of tights,first lipstick are all part of a 7yr olds life these days.
    I'm backing any one with the authority, to give children back their childhood and let becoming an adult happen gradually post puberty.

  • Comment number 6.

    In this program, Sophie emphasised the lack of any "research" on the impact of porn on this generation of boys. Do we need research when over 50% of children have 24 hour access to hard core porn?

    As a mother of two teenage boys - and a teenage girl (13 15 and 17) it is a shame that the effects that we are already seeing were not discussed more fully.

    The end of pubic hair is one... Anal rape is another.

    Looking at the contented expression of the father as he discussed the fact that his 14 year old son looks at porn - whilst the son showed anxiety as the porn he watches is seriously nasty those images are inside his head - but his father has no idea how bad it is, and is not protecting him.

    I was a juror on a rape trial two weeks ago, where the accused stopped having sex because the woman was not "enjoying it" (making a lot of noise/screaming enough)... Do we need research? Instant access to hardcore video is warping the minds of our boys. I am seriously concerned for those whose fathers are like the one in Panorama. Education is the answer - try looking up Gail Dines.

  • Comment number 7.

    I found the programme to be very interesting, as I seldom interact with youth, and lots of girls dress themselves in ways that I find rather provocative (as a 42-year old single male). Sophie seemed to be dealing with the concept / idea of children perhaps being exposed to things that were appropriate only for the 'adult life' (e.g. clothing or movies or internet images / websites with emphasis on sexual activity). Although I do believe that such lifestyle is inappropriate for children, I do not believe that great emphasis on sexual activity should be normal in 'adult life' either - in fact, perhaps such emphasis (or access to porn) may cause addiction and eventually even obsession or criminal action. I find that lust seems to be a very normal feature of modern Western culture (much more than a few decades ago or in Far Eastern countries). I believe that porn would be a strong factor in encouraging this, and provocative clothing and behaviour can have an effect too, while according to Christian principles, sex life is something that is to be enjoyed privately by husband and wife.
    I agreed with the comments about parents discussing with their children about it (e.g. clothes or porn), teaching them about long-term effects and knowing what they are doing.
    If Jack Straw's recent claim about some Pakistani men going for white women as 'easy meat' is accurate, I even wonder whether a factor could have been difference in lifestyle between Asian and white girls.

  • Comment number 8.

    Last night I happened to watch Panorama and this topic was very interesting. I'm glad to know that adults are understanding this problem and see that the innocence of children are lost...But whose to blame?

    Is it our liberal attitudes towards sex and glamour as overlooking our children's attitudes towards the glamourisation of adult life. Are we caught up in our own lives without providing children and informing them about the challenges of adult life? In short, are we being good role models ourselves?

    Are we turning a blind eye when our children watch WAG's and phony ' Big Brother celebrities as their role models when their antics can get to a point of no return.

    It's crucial to understand that children's mental makeup is high mouldable and they imitate adults . It is important for us to be a good role model for them and nurture their talents and skill sets in order to make them successful adults. I'm sure in no time they will be able to distinguish right from wrong.

  • Comment number 9.

    I found Too Much Too Young lacked any real bite about the consequences of a highly sexualised society. Current rape rates give a girl between a 1 in 3 chance of being raped (Home Office report 2006) or 1 in 2 if you take the figures of various victim support groups such as Havens or Rape Crisis. There are reams of reports showing a link between porn and violent attitudes/behaviour towards girls - which are then played out in our homes with a 42% rise in rape in London alone last year and a 43% rise in domestic violence during the same period. Monkey see, monkey do is not a feminist concept, it is a human feature which both the advertising and public relations industry is based on and vast numbers of boys and men masturbating to images of girls being hit, spat on, violently penetrated and choked til they're sick shows a society where the adult men are paying for and therefore commissioning increasingly sick acts against females that boys are then copying - as the boy in the film said. If you think this is ok - would you feel comfortable with kids watching material that showed white people hitting, punching, choking and shouting abuse at black people? Or are girls not human any longer?

  • Comment number 10.

    At the younger end of the scale the parents should be the ones buying the clothes and controlling what their kids have access to. Too often they rely on legislation rather than just saying 'no'.

    As for banning all porn on the internet, this is simply not possible due to the vast number of sites/torrents/etc. There are a large number of parental settings and programs which block inappropriate content and are able to stop kids giving out their details. Also, why is it so important for a 9 year old to have internet access in their bedroom in the first place?

    I'm 32 and when I was younger the 'all my friends are doing it' reasoning was not tolerated.

  • Comment number 11.

    I wonder why English parents allow their children to have computers in their bedrooms. In twenty years living in France I haven't met anyone who allows this and people are incredulous that any responsible parent would allow it. So why do English parents permit it? not doing so would remove many of the problems discussed on the Panorama programme. So are you anxious to placate your children or perhaps reluctant to engage with them or even have them around?

  • Comment number 12.

    As I feared when I watched Too Much too Young , it touched on some of the issues but left out the huge and more difficult to tackle issue that it started with i.e. sexualised images of women ( in particular) in advertising, media and music. This inundates us all every day, permeating our culture to such an extent we do not even quesiton it anymore. Yet these images are constantly being fed into young girls minds and their image of themselves to be sexual, provocative, fully made up and skimpily dressed. It affects how young girls feel they should dress and behave and how boys view them and how they expect them to behave.
    As a parent of young girls and working with young people I despair how we have allowed this to happen and how we can possibly think it is not damaging to young people and how they will develop into aduts and how they will form healthy relationships with each other.

    There could be a curfuw on music videos much like TV programmes with adult content being shown after 9pm ( though I question the adherence to this anymore with Eastenders) and the media could be more controlled in its use of sexualised images of women.

  • Comment number 13.

    A couple of years ago my mum came back from Japan with some 'Hello Kitty' knickers for my then three-year old daughter. They were really sensible thick cotton pants - much more suitable for someone who was not long out of potty training. It was only then that I realised that the only knickers available to buy for little girls are briefs - although recently I have seen some boxers around. It's not just imitation bras for young girls, all girls' underwear seems to be modelled on grown up women's designs instead of being appropriately designed for the age group. We have come to accept the skimpier briefs as normal, although if you compare them to the sensible pants you can see that they are sexier.

  • Comment number 14.

    I was really disappointed that this documentary failed to consider how if affected the genders differently. I don't think that exposing children to sexuality is bad per se; it is the completely biased view of sexuality that is the problem.

    Everywhere in the media women are represented as people who have no sexual desires of their own, and whose only sexual goal is to satisfy men. This image may result in girls feeling like they should repress their sexuality, while boys feel like they should be able to have sex whenever and with whoever they want. Many music videos that children can now watch on freeview will show images of women dancing erotically while men are able to retain their dignity. This is not the kind of message we should be sending out to young girls about how to achieve success. Many of these popstars then announce that they are celibate, which sends the message that you must act provocatively at all times, but actually having sex means you're a slut.

    If children are to be exposed to sexuality they should be exposed to women’s sexuality and homosexuality not just the current biased portrayal that suggests sexual desire is a concept applicable purely to heterosexual males.


More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

Latest contributors

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.