A new study released by the Parents Television Council (PTC), a pro-family group that monitors cable and broadcast TV networks, demonstrates the increasing sexual exploitation of teen girls as characters on prime-time television programs. The study, part of PTC's “4 Every Girl” campaign, found that underage female characters are more likely to be presented in scenes that are sexually exploitative than are adult female characters, with the majority of those scenes presenting the exploited teens in a humorous manner.
Out of nearly 240 episodes the group looked at during the study period that extended from 2011-12, 63 percent (150 episodes) featured sexualized content in scenes that were associated with female characters, and 33 of the episodes included sexual content that researchers said was sexually exploitative.
However, the likelihood of the sexual exploitation being considered humorous increased to 43 percent when it involved underage female characters. According to the report, content that targeted underage girls and was presented as humorous included such things as child molestation, sex trafficking, sexual harassment, pornography, and disrobing.
“Sexually exploiting minors on TV — especially for laughs — is grotesquely irresponsible,” said PTC President Tim Winter. He said that “the frequency with which viewers are able to watch and laugh at these sexually exploitative situations supports the notion that entertainment media is creating an environment that encourages and even facilitates the sexualization of women. When we laugh about dead hookers, it becomes increasingly difficult to see the mistreatment of sex workers as a national civil and human rights issue. The same can be said for child molestation or sex trafficking.”
While the study found that adult female characters were more likely to engage in sexualized dialogue or activities in their scenes, the likelihood that a scene would include sexual exploitation was higher if the female characters were teen or pre-teen girls. Among the studies other findings:
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