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The gender neglect and textual abuse of children in the print media

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In recent years the relationship between the media and child abuse has been subjected to closer scrutiny. Research at Monash University into the media portrayal of child abuse has led the researchers to examine the language used by the print media to represent both children who have been abused or neglected and the offences committed against them. This paper presents two findings from this research. The analysis firstly found that a child who has been abused or neglected may be objectified in print media language even when the child’s gender is previously identified. Secondly, the analysis found that the language used to describe the sexual abuse of children may serve to reduce the seriousness of offences. These phenomena, termed ‘gender neglect’ and ‘textual abuse’, are highlighted by examples from UK and Australian print media. The authors argue that ‘critical language awareness’ is important for children, just as it has been identified in research that examines the representation of women in print media. Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Keywords: child abuse; gender; language; media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Child Abuse and Family Violence Research Unit, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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