In the Name of ‘Childhood Innocence’: A Discursive Exploration of the Moral Panic Associated with Childhood and Sexuality

Kerry Robinson

Abstract

 This article critically examines moral panic as a political strategy in maintaining the hegemony of the nuclear family, the sanctity of hetereosexual relationships and the heteronormative social order. It focuses on the moral panic associated with children and sexuality, particularly that which is manifested around non-heterosexual subjectivities. The discussion is based on media representations of the moral panic associated with the Play School saga, The Tillman Child Care Centre / Learn to Include booklets and the We’re Here resource. It explores the hegemonic discourses around childhood innocence, sexuality and the construction of the homosexual as ‘folk devil’ and shows how these discourses are mobilised by conservative politicians and moral entrepreneurs to strategically instigate a moral panic at critical points in time.

Keywords

Moral panic; Play School; homophobia; childhood; pre-school

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