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Penny Booth: Real life realistic?

Date:7 JUN 2011

Penny BoothThere has been comment before on this website about the sexualisation of children (see here).

I am glad to see that after the report about the fourteen year old actress who is to play Juliet in a new version of Shakespeare iconic love story that there were comments about whether society reflects the sexualisation of children or merely encourages it to provide fodder for the consumer age.

Now, never one for spoiling anyone's fun, and cognizant of the possibility that I am just jealous, I still err on the side of thinking that it may not be a good idea that such a young girl ought to be taking all her clothes off in this new version - maybe not at fourteen. I remember (here it comes...) Zeffirelli's ‘Romeo and Juliet' and the seventeen year old Olivia Hussey (I cried buckets watching that film whilst in sixth form) and admire the 17 year old Claire Danes in ‘Romeo+Juliet' - but at least Danes was over 16, if not at the age of maturity.

Age appropriate actors are realistic and I am sure that the scenes will be done (in good old Kenny Everett style) ‘in the best possible taste', but it seems a pity to rely on the censor's decision on classification and the resultant financial considerations by the distributors to determine whether such a young person is to be seen naked on screen when it is not actually essential. It hardly sits well when on the news this evening we were treated to the result of the case of horrific abuse of pre-school and teenage girls by a very young man. As I said six months ago about making children grow up before they are ready:

"By encouraging an expectation of false adulthood, and all that it means, we heap expectation and then heavy responsibility upon them before they are ready for it.

"Bombarding youngsters with sexual imagery is revolting - it robs parents of money spent on useless, nay, damaging, items that add nothing to growing children, and, much worse, it robs children of childhood.

"Well, if some of this doesn't frighten the horses and the servants, it certainly frightens me. Our apprentice adults should be helped, not hindered - doing the latter is frankly obscene."

Long-distance commuting to work affects families, I see. What a surprise. It results in less time with the children and less time with the partner. Some thrive on that but most do not. I thought that the technological revolution was supposed to result in us spending less time at work per se? What happened to the three day week? The only one I recall happened in the 1970s as a result of strike action and reduced power supplies. We are supposed to have family-friendly policies at work now but not, according to the report of this Swedish study, for the high fliers whose career and finances benefit from a long commute to the perfect job only to find that their family life suffers. Just a minute - I thought Sweden was a hub of family-friendly welfare oriented approaches? Wrong again, it seems. Went the way of the paperless office, I suppose.

Penny sets the questions for Family Law journalCPD, a new way to gain CPD points by answering multiple choice questions based on the content of the journal.

She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool University Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law. Click here to follow Penny Booth on Twitter.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.

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