Someone Takes Responsibility

August 25, 2008

Children have an understanding of adults’ (or society’s) responsibility towards them.

We were driving in the city about two months ago (on our way home from my eldest daughter’s second performance on stage as an actress). Our four kids sat in the of back our ‘people mover’. In a lull in our conversation, the rain falling on the windscreen and the sound of the wipers on intermittent was all we could hear. Suddenly, Sally burst out with a display of indignation that was comical to her older sisters, “Kids can read that sign you know!”. 

We stopped at the traffic lights with the sign in full view. Although we all were laughing at Sally’s response, I noticed through the rear vision mirror that she had covered her eyes in an act of self censorship; her indignation aroused because of her awareness that the responsibility for censorship should not have fallen to her. 

Her outburst, although comical, gave me food for thought. Sally was visibly distressed. This fact sat uneasily with me and the seeds of a post were planted. I stretched my arm out of the window of the car and took the photo above in anticipation of writing about it one day. 

This morning I opened up my computer and scanned the online version of ‘The Age’ (our newspaper), as is my habit. On the front ‘page’ was the headline: Impotence Add Too Sexy to Stay Up.

The article explained that the Advertising Standards Board revised their earlier decision to allow the billboard in response to continuing complaints and community concern about the sexualisation of children. The justification for the about-face was summarised in the article in this way:

… the ASB determined that “the words ‘want longer lasting sex?’ were not medical or clinical in nature and were in fact a blatant message about a sexual act”.

With the offending sign no longer on display, there will be no need for Sally to avert her eyes. Thanks to the people who aired their concerns to the ASB.


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