Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls

At the recommendation of the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP) and with the approval of the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI) and the Board of Directors, APA’s Council of Representatives established the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls in February 2005. The Council charged the task force as follows:

The Task Force will examine and summarize the best psychological theory, research, and clinical experience addressing the sexualization of girls via media and other cultural messages, including the prevalence of these messages and their impact on girls, and include attention to the role and impact of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.The Task Force will produce a report, including recommendations for research, practice, education and training, policy, and public awareness.

APA has long been involved in issues related to the impact of media content on children. In 1994,APA adopted a policy resolution on violence in mass media, which updated and expanded an earlier resolution on televised violence. In 2004, the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children produced a report examining broad issues related to advertising to children.That report provided recommendations to restrict advertising that is primarily directed at young children and to include developmentally appropriate disclaimers in advertising. The report also included recommendations regarding research, applied psychology, industry practices, media literacy, advertising, and schools.The sexualization of girls in advertising was outside the scope of that report, however, and the issue was therefore not addressed. In 2005,APA adopted the policy resolution on violence in video games and interactive media, which documented the negative impact of exposure to violent interactive media on children and youth and called for the reduction of violence in these media.

These resolutions and reports addressed how violent media and advertising affect children and youth, but they did not address the issue of sexualization. BAPPI appointed six psychologists plus a public member to the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls: Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD (Chair); Rebecca L. Collins, PhD; Sharon Lamb, EdD;Tomi-Ann Roberts, PhD; Deborah L.Tolman, EdD; L. Monique Ward, PhD; and Jeanne Blake (Public Member, Blake Works, Inc.). Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, served as liaison from the Board of Directors. Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, and Louise B. Silverstein, PhD, served as liaisons from CWP.

Read the full report here

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