Watchdog drew only one complaint over teen mags

By Alyson Fixter 

The Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel received only one complaint about the content of teen mags last year, according to its latest report, while the Government and members of the public are increasingly accepting the importance of titles like Sugar, Bliss and CosmoGIRL!.

The one complaint received last year related to Hachette Filipacchi’s Sugar magazine, which published an article about a 13-year-old Zambian girl who was forced into prostitution by her family, but did not explicitly state that underage prostitution was illegal in the UK.

The watchdog, a self-policing organisation run by the PPA, said the magazine had breached its code, but added that "the general tone of the article warned of the emotional and physical horrors of prostitution; the article clearly set out the dangers of unprotected sex; and also the positive impact of charities which enable people to regain control of their lives."

The body received two complaints about the magazines in 2004 and two the year before.

Overall, according to the report, teenage magazines are raising awareness of their usefulness as a source for safe sex advice by fighting for improved sex education in schools.

In the past year, TMAP has also fended off legislation in Scotland that could have led to the imprisonment of agony aunts, and teen mags have been recommended as teaching aids within lessons on sex and relationships by the Government’s curriculum authority.

Chairwoman Fleur Fisher said: "It is a tribute to the work of teenage magazines and TMAP that we have had only one complaint over last year.

"The Government has recognised that teenage magazines have a specific role in providing information on health and personal relationships in a relevant, attractive and readily accessible format to support young people in their journey through adolescence.

"While it is still difficult in the 21st century for young people to find confidential sources of advice and support, the teenage magazine industry will continue to fill part of that gap."

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