Newnham Family Forum 2018: ‘Sex, Sex & More Sex’: Sexualisation and Young People

In 2018 the focus of the Newnham Family Forum was Sexualisation, particularly in relation to young people. This is a highly relevant topic at the moment, as we negotiate the new challenges of social media, internet advertising, web pornography and more with our children, grandchildren, students and dependents. Both young women and young men are affected by these issues, and College is proud to support the Roll Committee in hosting discussions that directly engage with topics that are at the heart of life in the twenty-first century.

The audience heard from three experts in the field: the second Children’s Commissioner for England, Professor Maggie Atkinson; Dr Linda Papadopoulos, who conducted an independent review of Sexualisation of Young People for the Home Office and Natasha Devon MBE, a writer & activist, who tours schools and colleges throughout the UK, delivering talks as well as conducting research on mental health, body image, gender and social equality.

In the afternoon the speakers and the Roll Committee organisers, Victoria Hunter (NC 1996) and Hannah Plews (NC 1995), formed a panel and took questions from the audience. It was a highly thought-provoking and affirming discussion, with both issues and possible avenues for positive change and empowerment considered in an open and productive way.

You can listen to podcasts of the morning’s talks below:

Professor Maggie Atkinson (NC 1975): Professor Atkinson discussed the inquiries into child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation that were undertaken during and following her tenure as Children’s Commissioner for England. She considered the findings and the ways in which they have changed policies and institutional thinking before focussing on the role of parents and family members in keeping children safe from harm.


Dr Linda Papadopoulos: Dr Papadopoulos focused on the impact of sexualisation on the ways in which we see ourselves and the world. She began by considering her 2010 Home Office review on the effects of sexualisation of young people and how the situation has changed since, with a particular focus on video games and advertising.


Natasha Devon MBE: Ms Devon spoke on the role of social media and porn, considering the ways in which digital presentations of sexuality are shaping the attitudes of a generation. She particularly noted the strength of messaging in advertising, and gave some fascinating breakdowns of popular adverts. The first video Natasha references can be seen here, and the second can be seen here.