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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 720

Mr SIMPKINS (9:19 PM) —I welcome the opportunity to make a contribution tonight on this fine motion on the sexualisation of girls in the media. I have enjoyed being able to hear what the previous speakers have said, to make sure that I do not go over the same ground. As a father of two girls, aged 11 and seven, these are exactly the sorts of things that concern me. I am sure that I am like all parents, particularly all fathers, out there across country. You have to be on your guard the whole time. No matter where you go, there is the potential to encounter the sexualisation, the rapid onset of adult themes, that face young people, our children. You only need to be sitting in the car listening to commercial radio and you hear some of those abhorrent ads from Advanced Medical Institute, or whoever they are, about nasal delivery systems. It seems that you can hear those ads on the radio at whatever time of day you might happen to have your children in the car with you. We must always be on our guard against those things.

Fortunately, in the area where I usually have my kids in the car with me, we do not have the sorts of billboards that seem to be so prevalent in the major cities over here on the east coast. Some of the things that are up on those billboards I do not want to have to explain to them. I do not want my 11-year-old or, worse, my seven-year-old saying to me, ‘What does that mean?’ I do not want them to be asking those sorts of questions. We must be on guard against these sorts of images, these sorts of ideas. Also, particularly as legislators, we should give careful consideration to what is authorised.

Another problem area is Facebook. I have recently become aware that there are some very young children with Facebook profiles. Let us face it, there is quite a deal of adult conversation on social networking sites. As a parent, I regularly look over the shoulders of my kids when they are on the internet—when I am in town. They do not have a Facebook profile. I am very glad that they are more into horsy websites and things like that—pretty positive stuff or, at least, not harmful stuff. But it is important to keep an eye on that. It is also important to look at filters. Parents should invest in filters to make sure that, while they are not looking over their children’s shoulders, safety for their children is still available.

Some TV shows are also worth considering, particularly those after 7.30 or eight o’clock at night, such as Two and a Half Men. Really, these are not shows for children at all. We should not be letting our 10- and 11-year-olds look at this stuff. They do not even understand what the concepts are. I was at school one day last year for my daughter’s year 1 class, and one of the boys made a comment that I thought was somewhat offensive and obscene. I will not mention the boy’s name, but I said to him, ‘Do you want me to tell your mother that you said that?’ and he backed off immediately. He did not appear to know what he had actually said. Later, I heard from a sibling that they had been watching Two and a Half Men the night before. It just shows that being on guard is always required.

I would also like to mention another bane of my existence, and that is swearing. I am one of those people who think that if you want to swear in front of your kids, if you want to use the ‘F’ word or worse in front of your children, then you can expect nothing else but that they will use that language in the future. I think a lot of people inflict problems on their children by not showing a bit of self-control in that regard. The dangers are all around, and parents should stand up to the mark. At the same time, we should look at some of the things that we allow to be out there in front of them. I thank the member for Kingston for bringing this motion forward.