“A source of anxiety like never before”: unpacking the Irish print media sexualisation of children discourse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • University of Cork
  • Dublin City University


Drawing on a corpus of 21articles pertaining to the “sexualisation” of children in national Irish newspapers (2012-2014) and using tools provided by critical discourse analysis, culturally-specific discourses are “unpacked”(Egan & Hawkes, 2008) with the aim of identifying peculiarities in an Irish context but also similarities with the sexualisation of children discourses produced in other country contexts. The framing of sexualisation and its construction as a child protection problem are explored, as are its presumed negative effects on children and the required solutions. The gendered assumptions explicit and implicit in the discourses are discussed. The paper concludes with a discussion on how “sexualised childhood” and its binary opposite “innocent childhood”, were mobilised in the Irish print media in the service of agendas which celebrated and obviated features of Irish societal culture, past and present.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-113
JournalTeanga: The Journal of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2021


  • sexualisation, media, children, discourse