H.R. 4925 (111th): Healthy Media for Youth Act

111th Congress, 2009–2010. Text as of Mar 24, 2010 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4925

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 24, 2010

(for herself, Mrs. Capito, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, Mrs. Capps, and Ms. Linda T. Sánchez of California) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce

A BILL

To authorize grants to promote media literacy and youth empowerment programs, to authorize research on the role and impact of depictions of girls and women in the media, to provide for the establishment of a National Task Force on Girls and Women in the Media, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Healthy Media for Youth Act.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Grants to promote media literacy and youth empowerment programs.

Sec. 4. Research on the role and impact of girls and women in the media on youths’ development.

Sec. 5. National Task Force on Girls and Women in the Media.

Sec. 6. Limitation.

Sec. 7. Definitions.

Sec. 8. Authorization of appropriations.

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

Media has become an integral part of youths’ lives. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Study, Generation M² Media in Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds (2010), most 8- to 18-year-olds spend about 10 hours a day using just recreational media.

(2)

Girls feel pressure from the mainstream media to have an ideal body type, and only 34 percent of girls report being very satisfied with their bodies, according to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s, The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living (2006).

(3)

Sixty percent of teenage girls compare their bodies to fashion models and almost 90 percent of girls say the fashion industry places a lot of pressure on teenage girls to be thin, according to the Girl Scout Research Institute survey, Girls and Body Image (2010).

(4)

This same research finds that body dissatisfaction leads to unhealthy eating and dieting habits. More than half of girls (55 percent) admit they diet to lose weight, 42 percent of girls know someone their age who forced themselves to throw up after eating, 37 percent know someone who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, and 31 percent admit to starving themselves or refusing to eat as a strategy to lose weight.

(5)

Even young girls, 3rd through 5th grade, worry about their appearance (54 percent), and specifically their weight (37 percent) according to the Girls Inc. survey, The Supergirl Dilemma: Girls Grapple with the Mounting Pressure of Expectations (2006).

(6)

The American Psychological Association’s Report on the Sexualization of Girls (2007) found that three of the most common mental health problems among girls, eating disorders, depression or depressed mood, and low self-esteem, are linked to sexualization of girls and women in media.

(7)

According to the same report, frequent exposure to sexualized media images of girls can have negative consequences on their sexual health and avoidance of sexual risk including the dangerous, new phenomena known as sexting, which means sending an explicit message or photo over a cell phone.

(8)

The group AK Teens found that 30 percent of girls ages 9 to 15 have sent a sext. The Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy found that 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 19 have texted partially or completely nude pictures of themselves or someone they knew.

(9)

Competition over narrow beauty standards and attention from boys also damages girls’ friendships, according to the American Psychological Association report. Damaging girls’ friendships can have serious health consequences since their relationships are crucial to their social and emotional health, according to The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living (2006).

(10)

Sexualized messages and images of girls and women also negatively impact boys. These negative effects include boys’ developing unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of girls’ and women’s physical appearance, and may impair their ability to develop healthy relationships with girls and women, according to the American Psychological Association’s report.

(11)

Girls and women of color are disproportionately absent from mainstream media. The Girl Scout Research Institute survey, Girls and Body Image (2010), found that only 32 percent of African-American girls think the fashion industry does a good job of representing people of all races and ethnicities.

(12)

Women and girls continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles in the media. Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media reports that less than one in three speaking characters in children’s movies are female. One study found that only 10 percent of Sports Illustrated photographs were of women during a 3-year period, according to the American Psychological Association’s Report on the Sexualization of Girls (2007). Fifty-seven percent of music videos feature a woman portrayed exclusively as a decorative, sexual object.

(13)

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media found that the majority of female characters in children’s movies are praised for their appearance or physical beauty rather than their personality, intelligence, or other talents, and are often short-sighted and narrowly fixated on romantic relationships that lack substantial connections or courtships. Girls and boys watching children’s programming may vicariously learn that beauty is an essential part of being female and critical for gaining attention and acceptance.

(14)

Girls’ aspirations are limited as they begin to associate power, acceptance, and success with physical appearance rather than academic or extracurricular achievements, according to the American Psychological Association.

(15)

Violence against women continues to be prevalent throughout media. The Parents Television Council reports that between 2004 and 2009, violence against women and teenage girls has increased on television programming at a rate of 120 percent compared to the 2 percent increase of overall violence in television content.

(16)

The Parents Television Council warns that by depicting violence against women with increasing frequency on television, or as a trivial, even humorous matter, theses images may be contributing to an atmosphere in which young people view aggression and violence against women as normative, even acceptable.

(17)

Due to the alarming side effects of youths’ exposure to negative messages about girls and women in media, Congress supports efforts to ensure youth improve their media literacy skills and consume positive messages about girls and women in the media that promotes healthy and diverse body images, develops positive and active female role models, and portrays equal and healthy relationships between female and male characters.

3.

Grants to promote media literacy and youth empowerment programs

(a)

Media literacy

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall award grants to nonprofit organizations to provide for the establishment, operation, coordination, and evaluation of programs to increase the media literacy of girls and boys, including by—

(A)

educating youth on how to apply their critical thinking skills when consuming media images and messages;

(B)

promoting healthy, balanced, and positive media depictions of girls and women among youth; and

(C)

countering the perpetuation and damaging effects of narrow, restrictive gender roles, stereotypes, and expectations, including the sexualization of female children, adolescents, and adults.

(2)

Activities

Programs funded under this subsection may include—

(A)

education on analytical skills that promote autonomy and critical understanding of how girls and women are depicted in the media;

(B)

age-appropriate education about negative effects of the sexualization of female children, adolescents, and adults;

(C)

education about how traditional, restrictive gender roles can be perpetuated through media;

(D)

education about how depictions of girls and women in the media can negatively affect youths’ body image, their choice of role models, relationships among girls, and relationships and expectations between girls and boys;

(E)

education on how to use media to positively influence others and to affect healthier cultural norms and practices;

(F)

education of parents, educators, and other adults on how depictions of girls and women in the media impact youth; or

(G)

support for public or private partnerships that encourage businesses, advertisers, the entertainment industry, and other media content providers to promote media content that—

(i)

encourages healthy body images;

(ii)

develops positive and active female role models; and

(iii)

portrays equal and healthy relationships between female and male characters.

(3)

Report

The Secretary shall require each grant recipient under this subsection to submit to the Secretary a report for each grant period that—

(A)

describes how grant funds were used; and

(B)

evaluates the effectiveness of the program funded through the grant.

(b)

Youth empowerment

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall award grants to nonprofit organizations to provide for the establishment, operation, coordination, and evaluation of programs to support the empowerment of girls or boys in a variety of ways, including by—

(A)

encouraging youth empowerment through extracurricular activities and programs; and

(B)

supporting youth in a variety of ways that—

(i)

develop self-esteem, skills, and talents; and

(ii)

celebrate characteristics unrelated to sexual appeal or physical appearance.

(2)

Activities

Programs funds under this subsection may include—

(A)

assisting youth in critiquing and rejecting sexualizing and objectifying messages within society;

(B)

teaching youth how to create and use media that contribute to social change, especially in their communities;

(C)

building confidence and self-efficacy;

(D)

building leadership skills; or

(E)

facilitating connections between girls and women, and boys and men, as mentors.

(3)

Targeted projects

The Secretary shall ensure that funding under this subsection is targeted towards (but need not be exclusively restricted to) projects that are—

(A)

focused in urban, rural, and other underserved areas;

(B)

gender-specific;

(C)

focused on a variety of populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and representatives of several socioeconomic status groups;

(D)

culturally and linguistically appropriate for the populations being served; and

(E)

developed in collaboration with the long-term stakeholders.

(4)

Report

The Secretary shall require each grant recipient under this subsection to submit to the Secretary a report for each grant period that—

(A)

describes how grant funds were used; and

(B)

evaluates the effectiveness of the program funded through the grant.

(c)

Matching funds

In awarding grants under subsections (a) and (b), the Secretary may give priority to applicants who agree to provide matching contributions from non-Federal sources. Such contributions may be in cash or in kind, fairly evaluated, including equipment, training, curricula, or a preexisting evaluation framework.

(d)

Certain requirements

A grant may be made under subsection (a) or (b) only if the applicant involved agrees to the following:

(1)

Not more than 20 percent of the grant funds will be used for administration, accounting, reporting, and program oversight functions.

(2)

The grant will be used to supplement and not supplant funds from other sources for increasing the media literacy of, and empowering, youth.

(3)

The applicant will abide by any limitations deemed appropriate by the Secretary on any charges to individuals receiving services pursuant to the grant. As deemed appropriate by the Secretary, such limitations on charges may vary based on the financial circumstances of the individual receiving services.

(e)

Report

Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall prepare and submit to the appropriate committees of the Congress a report on the grants awarded under subsections (a) and (b), including—

(1)

a description of how the grant funds were used; and

(2)

an evaluation of the effectiveness of such grants.

4.

Research on the role and impact of girls and women in the media on youths’ development

(a)

In general

The Secretary, acting through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in coordination with the Director of the National Institutes of Health and the Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, shall review, synthesize, and conduct or support research on the role and impact of depictions of girls and women in the media on the psychological, sexual, physical, and interpersonal development of youth in the following areas:

(1)

How depictions of girls and women in the media affect youth in the following areas of childhood development:

(A)

Cognitive areas such as mental health, self-esteem, learning abilities, and problem solving skills.

(B)

Physical areas such as diet, nutrition, exercise, body image, substance abuse, and sleeping and eating routines.

(C)

Social behavioral areas such as relationships with peers, interactions with parents and family members, aggression, high-risk behaviors, sexual behavior and development, and positive social behaviors.

(2)

How depictions of girls and women in the media affect girls’ and boys’ perceptions in the following areas:

(A)

Girls’ perceptions and attitudes about girls’ and boys’ abilities, equity, appearances, and leadership potential.

(B)

Boys’ perceptions and attitudes about girls’ and boys’ abilities, equity, appearances, and leadership potential.

(3)

How the sexualization and objectification of girls and women in the media affects girls and boys.

(4)

The impact of depictions of girls and women in the media on youths’ academic performance.

(5)

The impact that depictions of girls and women in the media has on girls and boys of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and developmentally across age.

(6)

How factors such as format, length of exposure, age of youth, and nature of parental involvement impact youth.

(7)

How food marketing and obesity campaigns affect girls’ and boys’ body image, nutrition, and exercise, especially among eating-disordered youth populations.

(8)

Additional areas as designated by the Secretary.

(b)

No duplication

The Secretary shall ensure that research activities under this section do not duplicate other Federal research activities.

(c)

Reports

Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall prepare and submit to the appropriate committees of the Congress a report that—

(1)

synthesizes the results of—

(A)

research under this section; and

(B)

other related research by the private or public sector, including the Federal Government;

(2)

disaggregates such results by gender, race, and socioeconomic background;

(3)

includes a compendium of key existing research on the role and impact of depictions of girls and women in the media; and

(4)

outlines gaps in research on the role and impact of depictions of girl and women in the media and identifies areas where future research is needed.

5.

National Task Force on Girls and Women in the Media

(a)

Purposes

The Federal Communications Commission shall convene a task force, to be known as the National Task Force on Girls and Women in the Media, to develop voluntary steps and goals for promoting healthy and positive depictions of girls and women in the media for the benefit of all youth.

(b)

Membership

The Task Force shall include representatives of the media industry, nonprofit and youth-serving organizations, academia and research entities, psychologists and other child health professionals, Federal agencies, and any other public or private entity designated by the Federal Communications Commission.

(c)

Responsibilities

The Task Force shall identify—

(1)

concerns with how the media regulated by the Federal Communications Commission portrays girls and women;

(2)

the impact of negative depictions of girls and women on the development of youth; and

(3)

voluntary steps and goals that the public and private sectors can take to promote healthy and positive media depictions of girls and women for the benefit of all youth.

(d)

Initial meeting

The Federal Communications Commission shall ensure that the Task Force holds its first meeting not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(e)

Report

Not later than 12 months after the date of the first meeting of the Task Force, the Federal Communications Commission shall submit a report to Congress that contains—

(1)

the findings of the Task Force under subsection (c); and

(2)

recommendations for areas of improvement regarding depictions of girls and women in the media.

6.

Limitation

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the Secretary may not use amounts made available under this Act to conduct or support activities or programs that are duplicative of activities or programs already being carried out through the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Education.

7.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

The term media includes television programs, motion pictures, video games, music and music videos, the Internet, social media, digital video recorders, cell phones, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and other emerging technologies designed for communication, entertainment, education, or information.

(2)

The term Secretary means the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

(3)

The term sexualization refers to a circumstance when—

(A)

a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;

(B)

a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) and personal value with appearing, acting, and being sexy;

(C)

a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decisionmaking; or

(D)

sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

(4)

The term Task Force means the National Task Force on Girls and Women in the Media convened under section 5.

8.

Authorization of appropriations

For the purpose of carrying out sections 3 and 4, there is authorized to be appropriated, in addition to any other amounts available for such purpose, $40,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2015, of which—

(1)

$18,000,000 is for section 3(a);

(2)

$18,000,000 is for section 3(b); and

(3)

$4,000,000 is for section 4.