Cartoon Films Give Kids Wrong Message About 'Stranger Danger'

by VR Sreeraman on  April 13, 2009 at 1:23 PM Child Health News   - G J E 4
 Cartoon Films Give Kids Wrong Message About 'Stranger Danger'
Classic Disney cartoon films like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Robin Hood are sending the wrong message to kids about how to deal with "stranger danger", say researchers.

According to researchers, the films contain scenes in which children receive "unwanted personal contact" or threatening approaches from adults, and that the victims fail to set a good example in the way they respond.

In one instance, the researchers found that the Pinocchio had been "groomed" by the adult characters Honest John and Gideon but that his response to the abuse resembled "victim blaming", The Telegraph reported.

The report, however, pinpointed that characters, like Mowgli, in the Jungle Book, and Alice, in Alice in Wonderland, are able to successfully handle to threats they face from adults.

It adds: "It is possible that viewing these scenes could influence children to believe that telling a trusted adult about a stranger's advances is unnecessary because the film characters model successful independence."

The study has been published in the journal Child Abuse, and was conducted by a team of psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists at Carleton University, in Canada.

The academics wrote that they were "surprised to find depictions of children being touched, usually by adults, contrary to the expressed desires of the child".

To reach the conclusion, researchers studied 47 animated feature length Disney films, released between 1937 and 2006.

In ten of them, they found examples of "unwanted personal contact" or scenes which show child characters in "risky situations".

Dr Wendy Hovdestad, the lead author, said: "The depictions of child and adolescent characters being grabbed and kissed against their will by adult characters is particularly problematic for the boy characters Wart (The Sword in the Stone), Flounder (The Little Mermaid), and Skippy (Robin Hood), because the context in the film is humorous.

"The treatment would probably be upsetting if it happened to a real child, and treating it as humorous is directly contradicting sexual safety education that teaches children that they get to decide who touches their bodies."

The report concludes: "The findings raise questions about potential impacts on child audiences. Is the unwanted contact and risky situation content appropriate viewing for children, given efforts to teach children sexual safety?"

A Disney spokeswoman said, "As we have not studied the report we are unable to comment."

Source: ANI

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