Why do we let our children watch this vile, sexist and explicit nonsense?

'We are desperate to stop violation of children yet do nothing about those sexualising their lives'

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What a sordid popular culture we are creating for our children and ourselves. We worry endlessly about whether future generations will inherit fish-filled blue seas and old oak trees, but where is the concern about all those other aspects of a good and fulfilling life - restraint, intimacy, privacy, delicacy and respect - which are being stamped on and crushed to extinction by the hooligans (advertisers, pop music moguls, fashion designers, broadcasters) who ruthlessly manipulate the appetites and desires of the population, including young and defenceless children?

What a sordid popular culture we are creating for our children and ourselves. We worry endlessly about whether future generations will inherit fish-filled blue seas and old oak trees, but where is the concern about all those other aspects of a good and fulfilling life - restraint, intimacy, privacy, delicacy and respect - which are being stamped on and crushed to extinction by the hooligans (advertisers, pop music moguls, fashion designers, broadcasters) who ruthlessly manipulate the appetites and desires of the population, including young and defenceless children?

Of course as soon as you ask this question, libertarians cry foul and accuse you of being a) censorious b) a right-wing fascist c) Mary Whitehouse d) an old fogey e) humourless f) a Victorian prude g) in my case, a Muslim fundamentalist or h) politically correct, that most effective of labels which stifles all dissent.

More of us need to stand up and challenge this offensive barrage and question what is being done to our society in the name of freedom and a laugh. We should follow the example of those who have been promoting Green issues. They too were mocked, derided, marginalised, accused of being Luddites. Yet somehow through the weight of their arguments and the power of conviction they have altered the terms of the debate and made environmental issues matter to the majority of British people.

And yet those of us who fear the growing contamination that passes for entertainment and culture remain fearfully silent, murmuring only to each other that we don't like what is going on. I hate living in a world where nobody minds that Game For A Laugh bimbettes such as Denise Van Outen have shows ( Something For The Weekend) where women and men stand behind boards and display breasts and scrotums through cut-out holes. Try explaining to three seven-year-olds (as I had to do) why these people were naked. And whatever biased research is thrown up to "prove" that these anxieties are without foundation, as a mother I know that things have got worse in the past 20 years.

My son and daughter were born 16 years apart. Both were taught when they were four that on weekends they had to look after themselves until half-past nine so the adults could catch up on sleep. They watched children's programmes, read, played, drank fruit juice and ate cereal bars. In the case of my son, the programmes were Sesame Street and the like. It was only two weeks ago when I woke up with a headache early on a Saturday that I saw what my daughter had been watching, and I was truly horrified at my own ignorance of what the various channels now put on in these early morning slots.

Let me tell you, if you are worried about sex and bad behaviour affecting children, you should control their 9am viewing instead of fretting about the 9pm watershed.

Lowri Turner, the presenter of the BBC2 series The Lipstick Years, says quite rightly that, "Children's presenters are the last bastion of pure TV totty. They... present cartoons with a pout and a giggle worthy of the game-show sidekicks of the Seventies. This is a hugely exaggerated form of sexism that exists only in this part of television and it is getting worse." To make matters worse, a number of these children's presenters are choosing to further their careers by posing nude in magazines such as Loaded, sharing with us the reasons why pierced nipples are such a turn-on.

Floella Benjamin, one-time presenter of children's programmes, who now does some invaluable work with children's charities, is also very concerned about these developments. She is researching the effects of children's television on young people as they grow up, and says that there is an oppressive air of sex that hangs over all children's shows.

The programme-makers create a carefully planned honey trap. Cartoons and harmless fun are laced through the shows so that very young children can't tear themselves away, and have to watch the other corrupting garbage. When I tell my daughter she can't watch teenage programmes, she, only seven, says: "But it has cartoons mummy, it's not for grown-ups."

One such programme is BBC1's FBi, which I suppose the Americans would call a combo. You get the spicy, seemingly brain-free presenters, hip-thrusting boy and raunchy girl bands and Rugrats. I got my daughter to turn it off after some young woman presenter began shaking her breasts. She was wearing a halter-neck top and hipster pedal-pushers. This is by no means the worst there is on offer. ITV's SM:TV Live (note that these yoof programmes no longer use normal titles. They are obviously trying to emulate Chris Evan's horribly popular adult equivalent, TFI Friday) is even worse and more enticing because the dreaded Pokémon is threaded through the hour and half of sex, babble and rock'n'roll.

And now we have research showing that radio is going the same way. A new report by the Radio Authority and the Broadcasting Standards Commission criticised Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox, who took over the morning show from Zoe Ball, for making several lewd comments about the physical attributes of a television presenter. When handing over to Simon Mayo at 9 o'clock she said: "Morning, Simon. How big is your penis, then?" Ball herself was censured for crude language and comments about sex and booze.

It is quite bizarre that we are so desperate to stop the sexual violation of children by paedophiles, yet we do nothing about those who are sexualising the lives and dreams of children and infants and generally polluting the social environment. Even shops such as Marks & Spencer have been forced to crawl with the lowest of the low and create garments for five-year-olds which make them look like tarts. Do we even stop to think how this then encourages abusers to convince themselves that it is OK to have sex with a four-year-old?

Things connect, and while I understand why so many people today are verbalising their outrage at criminals who do what they do to little children, I cannot understand why no one feels it is just as important to protest loudly against television and radio stations, ad agencies and others who are also destroying children.

y.alibhai-brown@independent.co.uk

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