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Shortland Street Aggravates NZ's Teen Problems

23 November 2000

Margaret Burgess
Culture and Heritage Spokesperson

Shortland Street Aggravates New Zealand’s Teen Problems

Robin Briant, former Medical Council chairwoman, is right to condemn Shortland Street for sending the wrong messages about doctors' behaviour. She notes that "staff and patients have affairs with monotonous regularity" in this soap opera, and "the consequences of this are never explored on screen."

But it's not only the doctor-patient relationship that's sending wrong messages to young viewers, it's the whole emphasis on sex that pervades this popular TV show. Is it any wonder that schoolchildren are rushing into sexual relationships when their favourite TV characters are doing so, night after night, in the nation's living-rooms?

The makers of Shortland Street assert it's a responsible programme that highlights ethical aspects of the doctor-patient relationship. But apart from medical ethics, how ethical is the behaviour portrayed? Cheating on spouses, multiple sexual partners, incestuous relationships - these are all contrary to normal, decent behaviour. With such over-sexed episodes fed as entertainment on a daily basis to impressionable young people, how can school sex education programmes hope to succeed in delaying the onset of sexual activity?

Programmes such as Shortland Street are aggravating the problems of sexual abuse, child sex and family breakdown that plague New Zealand by portraying casual sexual encounters as normal, daily behaviour. The importance of marriage and stable family life for the well-being of our children and young people is being trivialised by an unrealistic medical drama. Sex pulls in the viewers - but at what cost to our future generations?

Contact: Margaret Burgess on (06) 878 5638
Party Leader Graham Capill (021) 661 766

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