Say No 4 Kids

Another new feature?  You ask?

Yes! Another new feature! I reply

This time I’m taking my lead from Mahatma Gandhi with his famous quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” and starting a “Be-The-Change Monday!”

Each Monday I’ll  feature a cause that strikes a chord and let you know how you get your hose out!

If you’d like to suggest a cause for Be-The-Change Monday - send me a note here!

While I’m talking Mondays, don’t forget to cook meatless tonight and send in a pic of your meal.  You could win a copy of Jonathan Safran Foer’s highly acclaimed book “Eating Animals”.


An issue that is close to my heart and that has come to my attention is the placement of pornographic material in eye-shot of kids.

To be honest, the stuff offends me as well. I don’t want my son viewing women with mammoth breasts and come hither eyes while shopping with me for some milk. What kind of subliminal messages about women is this going to send him, and if I had a daughter, a whole other kettle of fish.

To be completely honest, what sort of message does it send to anyone about women? Anyway I’ll save my piece on it for another date. I’d like you to meet the crusader behind Say No 4 Kids Catherine Manning.

Who is Catherine Manning?

Founder of Say No 4 Kids and mother of four young children (aged 5 – 11 years), living in outer Melbourne,Victoria.
I worked in the television graphics industry before leaving to help my husband run a business, and start our beautiful family.  Over the past few years, I have also campaigned against the expansion of the Port of Hastings in Westernport on environmental, economic and social grounds.  I’m also involved in my local community as President of our township association.  You could say I’m a vocal advocate for community wellbeing!

What is Say No 4 Kids?

Say No 4 Kids is a campaign giving everyone the opportunity to sign a petition to remove highly sexualised adult material (pornorgraphy & so called ‘Lads Mags’) from the view and access of children in milk bars, service stations, newsagents..

Typical images on display Is there a specific reason you have decided to take this on? Was there a particular incident that triggered this?

Having read quite a few books about the increasing ‘pornification’ of our society over the years,  I was well aware of the negative impacts highly sexualised adult material can have on children before they’re old enough to put it into perspective.  Not to mention that children have rights too, and one of those is the right to not be exposed to material that may be injurous to his or her wellbeing.
The ‘trigger point’ for my campaign came last year when upon entering my local store, my four year old son was standing directly in front of soft porn magazines ‘People’ and ‘The Picture’ beside the icecream freezer and lolly counter.    I found it disturbing that not only were many adults being involuntarily exposed to highly sexualised material in everyday public places, but now our children were also being targetted – and I couldn’t believe that the law allowed it!

The response I got from the Classification Board to my subsequent letter, was that they are ‘reflecting community standards’.  That was like a red rag to a bull.  Sure that I wasn’t alone in how I was feeling, I decided to start a petition based campaign to give other parents and carers of children the opportunity to tell the board that they are out of touch, and that we wont tolerate this material being foisetered upon our (impressionable) kids!
It’s disturbing to me that some people place profits over the health and wellbeing of our children.

What sort of support do you have?

At the time of writing this I have almost 8,200 online signatures, and about 5,000 on paper. I am confident that this number will continue to grow as word continues to spread of the campaign.
I am also surrounded by very supportive family and friends, and have received many emails from people offering to help and giving me plenty of encouragement!

What has been the biggest obstacle you have come up against?

Up until last week, it was just trying to get a foothold in the mainstream media to get the word out about the campaign.
I’d had some ABC 774 and community radio coverage, along with a few local newspaper articles, but other than that I had just been slogging away, trying to distribute it as much as I could using my own resources and relying on word of mouth.

What needs to be achieved to achieve your mission?

The more signatories we have on the petition, the more likely we will achieve the desired outcome.  Therefore, once people have signed, they really need to keep the conversation going and encourage as many others as possible to get on board.

What has been the most misunderstood thing about your plight?

Whilst being eternally grateful for the story The Age (Melbourne) published about the campaign (which kickstarted the television media interest), the online poll question ‘Should soft porn be BANNED from milk bars…etc’, was misleading and caused many people to think that we just wanted to ban everything.  Had the question been ‘Should pornography be removed from children’s view and access…etc’, it would have been more accurate.  However it has sparked intense discussion, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise!

Another misconception from the ‘porn protectors’ is that I am a wowser, right wing religious freak, zealot, sexually dysfunctional, oh, and a bad parent for not being able to divert my children’s eyes or talk to them about sex. I’ve even been called ‘Un-Australian’!

I write about the tendency for objectors to play the man rather than the ball in my blog post ‘Say No 4 Kids Tackles its Knockers’.  I don’t really care to try to defend or justify myself.  At the end of the day, I just want those who agree with the petition to sign it.

What is one thing you’d like people to take away from our interview today?

I hope that after reading this people feel encouraged to have a look at and help make a difference.  Now it’s your turn to speak up, and demand that our government and responsible authorities are aware of, and reflect, true community standards.  I truly believe letting kids be kids will benefit all of us in the long run.

If this strikes a chord, please take part in be-the-change Monday and sign the petition Cheers

+ add a comment


  1. Posted 12 Apr at 1:53 am | Permalink

    Good onya Sharni – I’ll definitely be signing. I actually see my daughters staring at these mags when we’re in the shop, don’t know what’s going through their heads. It’s reminded me that I should actually start a discussion about it with them.

  2. Posted 12 Apr at 2:49 am | Permalink

    I signed the petition when I featured this story and issue on my blog, but I am so impressed that you have taken the ball and run with it Sharni!! Great interview, and lovely to hear from Catherine. Well done :)

    • Sharni
      Posted 12 Apr at 2:53 am | Permalink

      Thanks Quixy for planting it in my mind – I just had to take the ball :-)

  3. Posted 12 Apr at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Great idea for a Monday to get us all thinking, Sharni. My daughter is now 13, not sure if she even notices those mags as too interested in ones geared at her age. (although having said that some of the coverlines on Cosmo etc I may not be too keen to actually know that she knows what they’re talking about). Eldest son is almost 15 and he buys Tracks apparently for the surf posters (but have you seen what’s on the back of those posters?). Youngest son would probably announce something inappropriate, like, “Mum how come your boobies are not that big” except now I do my groceries online so no danger of bumping into said boobies when in checkout queue.

  4. Posted 12 Apr at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I agree with the concept of just letting kids be kids. Moving the lads mags? For sure. But you also have to move most of the mags that are available at the moment. Their covers are designed to shock and grab a readers attention. I remember buying Dolly when I was young and not even knowing young girls had issues until I read about them.

    My oldest daughter is 10 and I know girls her age are starting to talk about sex and boyfriends and I’m so happy that she’s Pokemon obsessed and not in that place yet. She’s not uninformed (we have 4 kids so she knows the basics!) but she’s not interested.

  5. I'm not concerned
    Posted 13 Apr at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I don’t really care if the ‘soft porn’ mags are being displayed at the counters in a shop rather then hidden in the back corner of the shop. I have 2 girls and even if I had boys I wouldn’t be concerned. They see a lot worse on music videos, you tube and even facebook and the likes. Raise your kids to respect their bodies and that all bodies of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and you shouldn’t really have a problem. Isn’t there far more important things to worry about regarding our kids??

    • Sharni
      Posted 13 Apr at 8:07 am | Permalink

      There are certainly mixed views on this, I guess a lot of it depends on your own tolerance of these mags and views on sex etc… some people are more liberal than others, while some have seen first hand the effects on body image, sexism etc that these kind of images can contribute to. Maybe the issues that you find far more important seem like nothing to others. Each to their own. Judging by the over 8000 signatures so far on this petition, it seems this issue is indeed an important one for many.

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