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Essay on The portrayal of young people in the media.

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This essay will look at the different ways in which young people are portrayed in the media. It will focus on how the idea of childhood innocence has been challenged by the media and rather than ‘little angels’ children are now seen as ‘little devils’ in the public eye. By looking at ‘The Bulger Case of 1993’ we can see where the idea of ‘little devils’ and children as evil beings began. It will examine why media stories of young people are focused much more on negative aspects such as crime and gang culture rather than positive ones. It will also look at how television programmes such as ‘Teen Mom’ and ‘Skins’ portray the youth of today and whether these programmes come across as a positive or negative portrayal of teenagers. The idea of a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ will also be examined and whether the way the media portrays children can be harmful to the construction of their identities and possibly lead to alienation.

In 1993, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, aged ten at the time, abused and murdered a two-year-old boy, James Bulger. There was media uproar about the case with the two boys being described as ‘evil’, ‘monsters’ and ‘freaks’ in the media (Franklin & Horwath 1998). There were many references to evil in the newspapers; with the telegraph stating that Thompson’s nickname was ‘Damien’ (from The Omen) and declaring that Venables birth date was Friday the 13th. The majority of society was united in the belief that these two boys were the epitome of evil and it was the media that nurtured this belief. ‘Newspaper reports were unequivocal in their denunciations of Thompson and Venables as inherently evil, prompted perhaps initially by Justice Morland’s description of the murder as an act of unparalleled ev...


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...-england-london-14450248> [Accessed 2nd January 2012]

Buckingham, D. (2000) After the Death of Childhood: Growing up in the age of electronic media. Great Britain, Polity Press.

Lakhani, N (2008) Nasty, Brutish and Short: The Horrific Life of Baby P. [Internet], UK, The Independent. Available from: [Accessed 2nd January 2012]

Baker, M (2010) Are Exams Really Getting Easier? [Internet], UK, BBC. Available from: [Accessed 2nd January 2012]

Clark, C, Ghosh, A, Green, E, Shariff,N. (n.d) Media Portrayal of Young People – impact and influences. [Internet], UK, Young Researcher Network. Available from: [Accessed 2nd January 2012]


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