Teen magazines Dolly and Girlfriend have collaborated to defend their sex-related content, insisting they are providing readers important information they want and need.
The magazines publishers' ACP Magazines, which publishes Dolly, and Pacific Magazines, which publishes Girlfriend, made a joint submission at a federal government inquiry in Sydney to reject suggestions that they should carry audience age recommendations.
The publishers said that there were important health reasons to ensure young people have access to responsible information on sexual development.
"Teenagers are always going to be aware and wanting to know more about these issues because that's the time their bodies are changing,'' News.com.au quoted Dolly editor Gemma Crisp as telling the Senate committee inquiry into the sexualisation of children in the media.
"They're becoming aware of the opposite sex. They're trying to work out who they are,'' she added.
Stephen Parry, Tasmanian Senator, expressed his concern for readers as young as 11 who were answering questions related to anal and oral sex.
Crisp said that it was hard to strike a balance between its entire readership, but the magazine had a responsibility to serve its audience regardless.
"We see it as a service. It's our responsibility to provide the correct information rather than them (readers) saying to their 15-year-old friend, 'my boyfriend wants me to do this, how do I deal with it?', she said.
"We do not create these questions. They are all 100 per cent reader generated. It's coming from the audience, rather than us supplying it to them as such,'' she added.
Nicole Sheffield, Pacific Magazines group publisher, said age recommendations on content were difficult because readers matured at different ages.
"For Girlfriend it does become really hard because it does depend on when they get their period, when they get their boobs, a lot of it is about their body - that is when they start to seek out this information and that is when we play an important role,'' she said.
Adrian Goss, ACP Magazines corporate counsel, said that printed age recommendations were an interesting idea, but could have the unintended outcome of making the titles more appealing to younger readers seeking more mature content.
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