Approaches and Programs

Below we describe a wide array of approaches and programs addressing sexuality and the sexualization of girls. Some are small programs, others large, and some touch on the topic of sexualization only indirectly. Where evaluations have been conducted, we summarize findings. We invite you to add to our knowledge base by contributing information about programs, approaches or research in which you are involved. Share what you know.

Media and Technology Education
Internet Safety
Media Literacy
Online Tools

Sex Education
Peer-led sex education
Online sex education
Informal sex education

Girls’ Empowerment
Support groups
Adventure groups

Education and Advocacy
Community outreach
Parental education
Product and media protest
Policy work


Media and Technology

Internet Safety 

Organization: Umbrella, Inc. is a nonprofit in Vermont specializing in sexual and domestic violence programs.

What It Does: Conducts workshops with parents, service providers and girls that address the practical do’s and don’ts of surfing online, as well as where girls can find support if they encounter emails, websites or chats that make them uncomfortable.

Organization: Northeast Kingdom Youth Services is a nonprofit in Vermont offering youth and family services.

What It Does: Staff members go online with girls and view their MySpace and Facebook pages to point out vulnerabilities. While girls may think that removing their age and hometown from a profile is enough, staff will tell them, “Look, half your ‘friends’ are listed as 14 years old and are from the [local] school.” Staff forms agreements with girls to view their social networking pages regularly in order to discourage inappropriate content.

Organization: Cyberslammed is a new publication from Kay Stephens and Vini Nair.

What It Does: This award-winning series of workbooks addresses six different kinds of digital conflicts and teaches readers how to understand, prevent and respond to harmful online bullying. The website hosts blog posts by the authors as well as information about reclaiming one’s digital reputation by removing unwanted content. Authors have also created closed groups on Facebook that act as ‘compassion mobs’ — teens can visit the online group to get support in real time if they are experiencing cyberbullying.

Media Literacy 

Organization: Hardy Girls, Healthy Women is a nonprofit in Maine dedicated to the health and well-being of girls and women.

What It Does: Girls Coalition Groups include media literacy activities for middle-school-age girls using the “From Adversaries to Allies” curriculum (developed by founder Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D and Mary Madden, PhD). Groups meet weekly with an adult “muse” facilitator and engage participants in deconstructing media images and exploring negative or false messages behind them.

Organization: Umbrella, Inc. is a nonprofit in Vermont specializing in sexual and domestic violence programs.

What It Does: School-based Lunch Bunch groups for girls in 5th-6th and 7th-8th grades address media literacy as part of a unit on body image. After defining body image and what influences how girls feel about their bodies, the group looks at a series of magazine excerpts and discusses what messages are being sent about girls’ bodies and how they define themselves. The group then does an activity in which girls brainstorm all the positive things that their bodies do for them.

Organization: About Face in San Francisco offers women and girls tools to understand and resist harmful media messages that affect self-esteem and body image.

What It Does: Conducts media literacy workshops for young adults ages 13-30 years old that teach participants how to interpret media messages they see every day, how to understand the portrayal of gender, and how to resist negative messages about body image and identity. Website provides an online gallery of ‘winner’ and ‘offender’ ad campaigns, commercials, and images of women and girls in the media. Also currently developing a body image curriculum.

Organization: The Media Education Foundation in Massachusetts produces and distributes documentary films and other educational tools that promote critical thinking about the social, political and cultural impact of American mass media.

What It Does: Offers extensive resources for educators teaching media literacy, including handouts, study guides, film transcripts and books for purchase.

Organization: The National Association for Media Literacy Education is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to advancing the field of media literacy education in the U.S.

What It Does: Provides tools for educators and researchers including: tips about incorporating media literacy and critical thinking into existing curricula; core principals of media literacy education; code of best practices in fair use (i.e., guidelines around copyrighted materials in media literacy education); and the peer-reviewed Journal of Media Literacy Education. They also host an annual conference and run the Modern Media Makers camp that instructs young people in media creation.

Evaluation: A three-year study of middle school students in San Francisco showed that those participating in the Media Education, Arts and Literacy (or M.E.A.L.) program improved their understanding of how to become more media literate. However, students in this study were not found to be more skilled at analyzing media messages than their peers. Apparently, knowing that messages might be skewed is not enough for middle school youth to figure out how they might be skewed.

Organization: Common Sense Media is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide trustworthy information and tools about media to families, as well as to support digital literacy education.

What It Does: Offers detailed ratings and reviews of current media for parents and online educator training in the Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum (K-12). In addition to television and films, the organization provides reviews and discussion about video games, websites, music and mobile phone ‘apps.’ Also offers suggestions about positive, youth-friendly media.

Organization: The YWCA in Montreal, Canada works to improve the lives of women and girls by increasing skills, self-esteem and autonomy, encouraging personal growth and preventing violence.

What It Does: Produced two short documentaries: a film for (adult) youth educators that describes early sexualization and its effects; and a film for middle-school-age youth about sexual stereotypes and marketing strategies targeting young people. YWCA also offers sexualization training using the documentary films and offers downloadable workshop guides.

Organization: Miss Representation is a documentary film that explores the implications of media’s misrepresentations of women.

What It Does: The film debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and is touring the U.S. in educational and arts venues now. The associated action campaign includes a media literacy curriculum that is available to schools and a call to action that uses social media as a vehicle for change.

Gender & Media Research

Organization: The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media works to change female portrayals and gender stereotypes in children’s media and entertainment.

What It Does: Commissions research through the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism that addresses gender balance and stereotyping in film and television. Research guides stakeholders in becoming critical consumers and producers of media. Also conducts ‘See Jane’ workshops for media content creators, offers a new video learning series for children called ‘Guess Who?’ and hosts a biennial symposium.

Organization: PBS Frontline’s Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier series explores the impact of the digital world, technology consumption and the constant ‘connectivity’ of people living in the 21st century.

What It Does: As part of Digital Nation, Renee Hobbs from Media Education Lab developed a series of Digital Workshops for parents and educators. Online workshops for parents address protecting and empowering children in the digital sphere; educator workshops focus on the use of technology in learning.

Organization: Girls, Inc. is a national organization with a website portal designed for pre-teen and early adolescent girls that offers online educational and recreational opportunities.

What It Does: The site collects survey responses from girls and includes resources related to early sexualization, including online safety, knowing one’s body, and how to handle relationships with peers. The site, which requires a secure log-in and is moderated by adults, is easy to navigate with fun graphics and activities and provides a safe place for girls to connect with each other online.

Organization: Zoey’s Room was created by Platform Shoes Forum, an organization that develops digital platforms using cutting-edge, youth-friendly digital mediums.

What It Does: Site offers a “tech know” community where middle-school-age girls can explore interests in science, technology, engineering and math. In addition to featuring positive female role models that defy stereotypes, Zoey’s Room offers a secure forum for girls to blog, connect with their peers and ask questions about girls’ issues. Zoey’s Room is in the process of re-launching its site in partnership with the National Girls Collaborative Project.

Organization: I Am That Girl is a California nonprofit seeking to inspire confidence in girls and women through building community and creating healthy media.

What It Does: Offers a girl-driven online network of healthy media through its YouTube channel That Girl TV.

Sex Education


Organization: TEARS, Inc. (Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS) is a nonprofit in Alabama that provides intervention services to youth in schools, residential and commu­nity settings.

What It Does: The agency offers abstinence education to both middle school and high school girls using the Choosing The Best curriculum. TEARS, Inc. groups meet weekly, some­times using a workbook and other times watching videos that prompt discussion about real-life situations that girls face.

Evaluation: Although initial studies indicated that abstinence-only education did not significantly delay onset of sexual intercourse or increase youth’s knowledge of STI risks, a 2010 study showed more promising results. African-American middle school youth in the new study were significantly less likely to have ever had sex compared to youth in a comprehensive sex education group, and did use condoms at comparable rates to their peers when they were having sex (something critics focused concern on in the past). It’s important to note that successful abstinence programs included medically-accurate information and did not stress a ‘wait until marriage’ approach.

Comprehensive Sex Education

Organization: Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts works to protect and promote sexual and reproductive health and freedom of choice by providing clinical services, education and advocacy.

What It Does: Developed the Get Real curriculum, a three-year class taught to middle school students in nine lessons each. The goals of the program include promoting effective relationship skills, positive attitudes toward delaying sexual activity, and increased communication with parents about relationships and sexuality.

Evaluation: An initial evaluation of Get Real in five schools showed that after one year of the program students were 30 percent less likely to report becoming sexually active than their peers in control groups. These results, plus reviewer analysis of elements the curriculum shares with proven successful programs, earned Get Real ‘Promising Program’ status through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A formal impact study using four years’ worth of data is currently underway.

Organization: Children’s Aid Society is a New York-based nonprofit providing critical services to children and their families.

What It Does: Developed and operates the Carerra Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program that works with boys and girls age 10 through 21. The afterschool model takes a holistic approach, offering educational, vocational and recreational opportunities for youth, six days a week on a year-round basis. An in-school model starts in sixth grade. The program is grounded in seven age-appropriate components that are delivered to young people using positive youth development strategies.

Evaluation: Outcomes from multiple robust evaluations show the CAS-Carerra program is effective with urban youth.External, randomized control studies indicate that female participants are less likely to have become pregnant and/or have given birth than peers, and that male participants are more likely to access sexual and reproductive health services, gain employment, finish high school and enroll in college. Independent surveys also show decreases in alcohol and drug use, violence and other risky behaviors for program participants. The program has been replicated in multiple national sites.

Norwegian Models of Sex Education

Sex education in Norway has been mandatory and ‘comprehensive’ for many decades. Education begins in elementary school, with age-appropriate topics interwoven with school curricula.

What It Does: Information about family, relationships, societal rules and gender norms are addressed at young ages, progressing to education about HIV/AIDS, sexual identity, masturbation and abortion in the middle school years. The final year of sex education occurs when students are 13 years old, after which it shifts to health clinics located both in schools and in the community for older teens.

Peer-led Sex Education

Organization: Health Behavior Group’s SRE Project in the United Kingdom focuses on the effective delivery of sex and relationship education in secondary schools.

What It Does: Offers the Added Power and Understanding in Sex Education Program (or, Apause), used widely in England and Wales. The curriculum includes teacher-led factual instruction, as well as peer-led sections that focus on relationships, peer pressure and refusal skills. The goals of the peer-led units are to convince teens that not all their friends are having sex, and to practice skills for saying ‘no’ to unwanted sexual pressure.

Evaluation: A study of more than 8,000 teens in Britain indicates that peer-led sex education can positively impact young people’s knowledge of sexual health, acceptance of peer choices and the intention to delay sexual initiation. Girls participating in the program at age 13 were significantly less likely to have become pregnant or given birth by age 18 than their peers who received only teacher-led education; however, there were no significant differences in age of first unprotected sex, knowledge of contraceptives, or rates of STI’s and abortions. Despite mixed results, the majority of teens reported preferring peer-led approaches.

Online & Remote Sex Education

Organization: Answer is a national organization that promotes and provides comprehensive sex education to young people and the adults that teach them.

What It Does: Offers sex education by teens and for teens through the Sex, Etc. website, geared for youth age 15 or older. The site, which is moderated behind the scenes by adult health experts for accuracy and safety, addresses sex and relationships, pregnancy, STIs, birth control, sexual orientation and more. Health professionals address questions in public blogs and confidential chats. Teens read and comment on articles written by their peers (for example, how to talk to parents about sex) as well as comments posted by others. Also now offering training focused on Boys & Sex Education.

Organization: The Spanish Society for Family and Community Medicine is a family medical group in Spain.

What It Does: The Spanish medical group conducts office hours in Second Life, where physicians (represented by avatars themselves) meet with teens in a virtual clinic and answer questions about sexual health and alcohol and drug use. The health portal provides low pres­sure, anonymous access to medically accurate advice. Doctors are clear that online consultations are not a substitute for face-to-face care, but hope to reach a population that would otherwise go unserved.

Organization: The Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina supports communities in preventing adolescent pregnancy through advocacy, education and collaboration.

What It Does: Provides medically-accurate, nonjudgmental and confidential answers to sexual health questions submitted via text by teens age 14-19 years through the BrdsNBz Text Line. Qualified health educators provide personalized answers that do not advocate abortion or offer medical advice. Teens can also find out about available local resources and clinics.

Online Dating Violence Education

Organization: That’s Not Cool is a national public education campaign on teen dating violence that is sponsored and co-created by Futures Without Violence, the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, and the Advertising Council.

What It Does: That’s Not Cool addresses problems related to dating and technology through digital videos, games and interactive graphics that raise awareness about the new frontier of teen dating violence. The site offers ‘Call Out Cards’ teens can send in response to digital boundary violations, a chance to create encrypted avatars that ‘Have Your Say’ about digital dating abuse, practical tips for responding to peer pressure, and a ‘Talk it Out’ forum for peer support.

Evaluation: Little research has been done to determine how online interventions affect teens’ real-world sexual behavior. However, one study showed that emails from ‘Dr. Meg’ could successfully change how older youth act online. After receiving email messages about dangerous posts on their profiles, a significant proportion of young people deleted revealing information and increased use of site privacy settings.

Girls’ Empowerment

Support Groups

Organization: Umbrella, Inc. is a nonprofit in Vermont specializing in sexual and domestic violence programs.

What It Does: Staff facilitate in-school, weekly support groups for girls in 3rd through 8th grades. The Strong Girls Club for 8- to 12-year-olds is based on a curriculum of YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, originally designed for girls witnessing domestic violence. The group addresses self-esteem, healthy relationships, emotions and stress through hands-on activities that help girls recognize unique personal qualities and explore how they feel about themselves. Group also includes a Family Night to show parents or guardians what girls have been learning.

Organization: Community Bridges is a nonprofit in Maryland specializing in multicultural empowerment and leadership programs for girls.

What It Does: Facilitates Jump Start Girls program for diverse girls ages 8-15 years to build self-confidence and sense of self-expression through team-building exercises, academic support, and health and prevention activities. Activities include Young Artist Showcase featuring poetry and self-portraits of Latina girls, as well as Road to College campus tours. Also operates a mentoring program for 8th grade girls focused on dating safety, divorce, sexuality, body image, and relationships.

Organization: Girls Circle Association is a nonprofit in California that specializes in research-based models proven to increase girls’ self-efficacy, body image and social support.

What It Does: Runs structured, 8-12 week support groups for adolescent girls led by Girls Circle trained staff. The curriculum addresses healthy decisions, positive body image, and the expression of individuality using journaling, poetry writing, acting, role playing, drawing, working with clay, and dancing.

Evaluation: A 2007 study by Ceres Policy Research that involved 278 girls ages 10-18 years in nineteen cities indicates that participation in Girls Circles leads to statistically significant improvement in school attachment and self-efficacy, as well as significant decreases in self-harming behavior and rates of alcohol use. Additional studies indicate improvements in self-efficacy, body image and the ability to communicate with adults. A new study on gender-specific promising models commissioned by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in partnership with Cook County Probation in Chicago will be completed in 2014.

Empowerment Groups

Organization: The National Girls Collaborative Project works to connect girl-serving STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs across the United States to promote best practices and gender equity.

What It Does: Provides mini-grants to girl-serving programs that support a variety of activities, including (but not limited to): after-school science clubs; technology camps; in-school presentations by business professionals; and Rosie’s Girls day camps that teach girls trades like carpentry, welding, fire fighting and automotive repair.

Adventure Groups

Organization: Community Bridges is a nonprofit in Maryland specializing in multicultural empowerment and leadership programs for girls.

What It Does: Runs an outdoor adventure summer camp for elementary and middle school girls who have participated in other Community Bridges groups during the school year. The goal of the camp is to foster leadership, self-confidence and personal growth and learning through field trips, physical activities and outdoor experiences.

Evaluation: According to the organization’s own evaluation in 2008, 69 percent of participants reported improved communication, problem solving and conflict resolution skills.

Organization: The Women’s Wilderness Institute in Colorado offers wilderness experiences and outdoor adventures for women and teen girls.

What It Does: Leads 4-12 day wilderness excursions and outdoor adventures for adolescent girls with the goal of teaching self-sufficiency, confidence and personal strength. Adventures are available for all fitness and experience levels, including an advanced Leadership Course for young women ages 15-18 years. The organization offers scholarships and financial aid for girls to participate.

Evaluation: According to internal program evaluations, 90 percent of girls report improved self-esteem, self-efficacy or leadership abilities.

Organization: Hardy Girls Healthy Women in Maine is a nonprofit dedicated to the health and well-being of girls and women with a focus on relational and social contexts.

What It Does: Offers Adventure Girls team-building groups for girls in 2nd through 6th grades led by women volunteers with unusual and interesting personal resumes that includes things like kayaking, orienteering, rugby and dog-sledding. Do-it-yourself ‘Adventure Girls in a Box’ kits are available to communities wishing to replicate the program. Also offers a new webinar series, ‘Moving Beyond Mean Girls: Building Girls Coalition Groups.’

Evaluation: Initial evaluation, conducted by researchers at University of Maine, compared self-esteem and depression levels of participants versus a control group. Adventure Girls members were found to be more critical of media messages and stereotypes than their peers, and had slightly higher self-esteem and lower rates of depression; however, these results were not statistically significant. HGHW says it hopes to replicate the study in the future and explore how Adventure Girls impacts girls from different backgrounds.

Fitness Empowerment Groups

Organization: Girls on the Run is an international nonprofit that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running.

What It Does: Developed three 24-lesson curriculums for girls in 3rd through 8th grades that include experience-based, positive lessons woven into fitness training and workouts. Goals of the program are to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development. Volunteer-led groups culminate with 5K runs.

Evaluation: Recent evaluations show that participating girls experience statistically significant improvements in body image, eating attitudes and self-esteem; results also indicate that participants have a better sense of identity and increasingly active lifestyles.

Education and Advocacy

Training Workshops

Organization: The YWCA in Montreal, Canada works to improve the lives of women and girls by increasing skills, self-esteem and autonomy, encouraging personal growth and preventing violence.

What It Does: Offers three-day trainings to youth workers, parents and community members that take a systemic approach to understanding sexualization and the forces that shape the perception of sexuality. Workshops provide practical tools for combating sexualization through media literacy education with youth.

Organization: SPARK (Sexualization Protest: Action, Rebellion, Knowledge) is an activist movement that works to end the sexualization of girls and women in the media.

What It Does: Hosts the annual SPARK Summit that attracts approximately 500 people representing dozens of organizations to attend lectures on topics such as: media literacy, healthy sexuality, blogging, the underrepresentation of girls and women on television and in film, and the marketing of sexually charged products toward young girls. SPARK also organizes chapters in schools and assists with community outreach through its partner organizations.

Organization: Hardy Girls Healthy Women in Maine is a nonprofit dedicated to the health and well-being of girls and women with a focus on relational and social contexts.

What It Does: Conducts outreach to rural communities and facilitates needs assessments in small towns. The process includes input from adults and girls themselves, and can include documentary screenings followed by facilitated community-wide discussions.

Organization: The Montgomery County, Maryland chapter of the National Organization for Women is dedicated to education and activism for women’s rights.

What It Does: Produces a monthly newsletter, The Watchful Eye, as part of its Sexualization of Youth Project which disseminates research, news articles, and political briefs addressing the sexualization of youth. The goal of the project is to increase public awareness of the issue.

Parental Education

Organization: Planned Parenthood of Northern New England provides reproductive health care, sexuality education and advocacy services.

What It Does: Offers online tips and workshops, phone consultation and facilitated House Parties for parents regarding how to talk to kids about healthy sexuality. Also produces the Gulp! newsletter geared specifically for parents.

Organization: The State of Michigan developed a parent education workshop that encourages parents to be actively involved in their children’s sexual education.

What It Does: Talk Early, Talk Often is offered free-of-charge to parent groups in schools, communities and churches. The two-hour workshops are based on the premise that parents are primary educators for their children and that sexuality should be a regular topic of discussion throughout children’s lives. Parents are given the chance to practice answering difficult questions, find and use teachable moments and increase their confidence in the role they play in sexuality education with middle-school-age youth.

Organization: Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts works to protect and promote sexual and reproductive health and freedom of choice by providing clinical services, education and advocacy.

What It Does: Developed the Get Real curriculum for middle school students that includes homework assignments requiring parent involvement. Parents are given supplemental materials at the start of the program to help clarify their values around sexual activity, and then, following each lesson, students must discuss with their parents how the family’s values relate to a given topic. Also offers parent e-newsletter The Parent Buzz.

Evaluation: A small study of urban 6th graders that participated in Get Real and a related photo-voice project indicates that students do see parents and siblings as sources of sexual health information but that parents are not always prepared to engage in discussions. Initial evaluations of the Get Real program indicate the participants do delay initiating sexual behavior; additional evaluations are underway.

Organization: Health and Human Development is part of a global nonprofit that works to advance solutions to educational, health and economic problems, including reproductive health.

What It Does: Developed the Saving Sex for Later program that addresses parent confidence in talking with pre-teens about sex. The program includes three audio CDs with realistic scenes between parents and children around issues of sexuality; materials are mailed to parents over a six month period and are also available in Spanish. Parents benefit from listening to characters ap­proach difficult topics and can also use the CDs to start conversations with their children.

Evaluation: A randomized control trial that followed 850 NYC families with children in 5th and 6th grades indicates that parents who participate are more likely to talk with children about sex, have greater self-efficacy around addressing sexual health topics and have an increased sense that they can influence their children’s behavior. Children in participating families reported higher levels of family support, more family rules and fewer risk factors for early sexual behavior. Mailing materials directly to families is an approach that may work well for parents not easily engaged in educational settings due to scheduling or cultural conflicts.

Online Parental Education

Organization: Real Life, Real Talk is a nationwide social change effort initiated by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America with funding from the Ford Foundation.

What It Does: Real Life, Real Talk aims to educate and support parents while reframing sexuality as a component of healthy relationships. The website provides parents with Tools for Talking, conversation starters and a list that debunks typical excuses for avoiding talking to teens about sex. The site also contains links to research and pregnancy prevention organizations, as well as short videos presented by teens themselves that describe Teen Reality, or, what scenarios today’s teens face.  In addition, the Sex Ed for Parents program offers a 90-minute workshop that can be hosted at local schools or community sites.

Organization: Advocates for Youth is dedicated to helping young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.

What It Does: Offers an online Parents Sex Ed Center that includes advice on how to talk with children about healthy sexual development, factual information about reproductive health, access to expert parenting advice and tips for advocating for sex education in schools.

Organization: Common Sense Media is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide trustworthy information and tools about media to families, as well as to support digital literacy education.

What It Does: In addition to providing online reviews of a broad range of media, educator resources and advocacy tips, the website also offers research-based parenting advice on media use by age and topic (including a short video on girls and body image). The organization also offers a curriculum for educators called Parent Media and Technology Education.

Product and Media Protests

Organization: About Face in San Francisco offers women and girls tools to understand and resist harmful media messages that affect self-esteem and body image.

What It Does: Website provides an online gallery of ‘winner’ and ‘offender’ ad campaigns, commercials, and images of women and girls. Offers ideas for social action campaigns including the dressing room project that uses girl-positive decals on store dressing room mirrors, Yay! scales and tips for writing letters of protest to companies.

Organization: Media Watch is a nonprofit that uses education and action campaigns to challenge stereotypes and biases found in the media.

What It Does: Website offers an extensive gallery of media images that are considered racist, sexist or violent. Visitors can also sign up for monthly e-news Action Alerts that educate recipients about events and social action campaigns to protest corporate media and violence.

Organization: The Women and Girls Foundation of Pennsylvania promotes social change by addressing social inequality and raising awareness in the media, voters, legislature, and corporate and nonprofit decision makers about these inequities.

What It Does: Worked with a group of girls in Pittsburgh in 2005 that popularized the term ‘girlcott’ by campaigning to stop Abercrombie & Fitch’s sale of t-shirts they deemed offensive. Also runs the annual GirlGov program that allows Pennsylvania teens in 9th through 12th grades the opportunity to shadow legislators and learn about careers in government and philanthropy, as well as public policy issues impacting the region.

Organization: Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington, Vermont is a nonprofit agency providing services to homeless and at-risk youth and their families.

What It Does: Although not a formal organizational initiative, Spectrum’s Director Mark Redmond wrote letters to newspapers in 2008 to protest the Burton line of Love and Primo snowboards that depicted partially nude women and self-mutilation. He also decided to end the agency’s partnership with them indicating it was not in the best interests of the youth in his city at large. Public outcry did not lead to discontinuing the designs but did result in several ski mountains banning employees from riding the boards on mountains.

Policy Work & Action Campaigns

Organization: National Organization for Women is the largest organization of feminist activists in the U.S., working to promote equality and justice for all women.

What It Does: Organization passed a resolution vowing to disseminate research on the harm being done to girls by sexualization and to support all legislation that promotes ‘research, education and action to combat the sexualization of girls in media and more broadly in society.’ Runs the Love Your Body campaign which allows women and girls to submit original videos that talk about embracing their bodies and rejecting narrow beauty ideals, as well as offers suggestions for actions that can be taken locally.

Organization: Girls Scouts of the USA is part of an international girls organization that works to develop girls’ leadership potential, values and skills.

What It Does: Collaborated with two congresswomen in 2010 to introduce the Healthy Media for Youth Act. The bill would support the funding of media literacy programs for youth, promote research on the impact of media images on young people, and encourage the adoption of voluntary guidelines to promote healthier media images for young people. The act has now been referred to Committee by Congress. Organization has a Public Policy and Advocacy office and also created Troop Capitol Hill that engages members of Congress to address issues affecting girls and young women.

Organization: Vermont Works for Women assists women and girls in recognizing their full potential, and exploring, pursuing and excelling in work that leads to economic independence.

What It Does: Surveyed more than 210 low-income girls and young women, ages 15-25, in 28 communities across Vermont about school, work and the transition to adulthood. The resulting report, Enough Said, references national and best practices research and provides a qualitative look at the concerns of young women across the state, including: lack of financial literacy skills; fears about living independently; relational aggression among girls/young women; lack of supportive allies and networks; and limited expectations and opportunities for meaningful careers.

UK Policy Models

The United Kingdom’s Parliament enacted a ban on airbrushing enhancement for media materials that target children and continues to ban advertisements that breach the country’s Advertising Codes. Code violations are monitored and investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority, a non-governmental organization that works to end misleading, harmful or offensive advertising, including a recently banned cosmetics ad featuring Julia Roberts.