SIRC Media Watch Archive
Comment and Opinion – July 1999

A Stranger Danger A campaign launched by the NSPCC this week under the working title of " NSPCC warns of the risks to children this summer" seems to have spurred an unprecedented charge of scare mongering from much of the country's media. The society's ten-point plan advising almost obsessive parental vigilance has been charged with fuelling an exaggerated fear of harm.

Forbidden Fruit and restricted snacks A report published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has concluded that restricting children's access to certain foods actually increases their desire to obtain and consume those foods. SIRC's own research has identified this trend as the 'Forbidden-fruit effect', a common response to authoritarian warnings which increases the desire for the 'forbidden' substance or activity. In many cases, the constant stream of warnings, scares and bans leads to deliberate defiance which is exhibited most significantly among the young.

Warning: Belgian poultry could give you spots Along with the continuing GM issue, the Belgium food scare has dominated much of this month's media. Concerns began back in January when chicken farmers noticed a decline in the number of eggs that were hatching. The chicks from those that did hatch were experiencing a variety of neural disorders. Tests carried out on animal feed by the Dutch State Institute for Quality Control of Agricultural Products identified 1500 times the legal limit of dioxins in an 80-tonne batch of fat produced by the Verkest Company, which was subsequently passed on to 12 feed manufacturers. Widespread panic ensued.