The head of the teenage magazine industry’s self-regulatory body has hit back at critics by pointing out that underage pregnancies are less frequent in Europe, where magazines are even more explicit than the UK’s.
Dr Fleur Fisher of the Teenage Magazine Arbitration Committee highlighted the findings after a BBC survey suggested most adults believe there should be tighter government control of the sexual content of TV and teenage magazines. Research showed that 86 per cent of the 1,000 adults surveyed wanted more censorship.
Fisher cited research by the US-based Alan Guttmacher Institute which linked high pregnancy rates with poor access to sex education. The UK’s record of having the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe showed British teenagers need quality information and guidance on sex, she said.
Fisher added that while most teenagers wished their parents were more willing to talk about sex, mutual embarrassment was a problem.
“These magazines are trusted by teenagers, they talk with them, rather than sermonise at them. As a result these magazines receive over half a million contacts a year. Teenagers like getting non-judgmental, anonymous advice as they struggle with the demands of growing up. They seem to find teen magazines’ light-hearted fun tone, allied with accurate information, a cheering beacon in the murky adult world of mixed messages,” she said.
There has been a growing backlash against teen magazines, most of which have suffered plummeting sales as well as criticism. However, the Government decided against putting an age stamp on them three months ago.
By Ruth Addicott