A six-month independent review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, which reports today, calls on businesses and media to play their part in ending the drift towards an increasingly sexualised ‘wallpaper’ that surrounds children.
Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of Mothers’ Union, who led the independent review, has listened to parents’ concerns about the barriers they face in bringing up their children. They are particularly unhappy with the increasingly sexualised culture surrounding their children, which they feel they have no control over. They singled out sexually explicit music videos, outdoor adverts that contain sexualised images, and the amount of sexual content in family programmes on TV.
Reg Bailey’s recommendations are based on parents’ concerns and are intended to support them, make sure their views are taken more seriously by businesses and broadcasters, and help children understand the potential dangers they face. They will put control back in the hands of families.
The recommendations include:
Providing parents with one single website to make it easier to complain about any programme, advert, product or service.
Putting age restrictions on music videos to prevent children buying sexually explicit videos and guide broadcasters over when to show them.
Covering up sexualised images on the front pages of magazines and newspapers so they are not in easy sight of children.
Making it easier for parents to block adult and age-restricted material from the internet by giving every customer a choice at the point of purchase over whether they want adult content on their home internet, laptops or smart phones.
Retailers offering age-appropriate clothes for children – the retail industry should sign up to the British Retail Consortium’s new guidelines which checks and challenges the design, buying, display and marketing of clothes, products and services for children.
Restricting outdoor adverts containing sexualised imagery where large numbers of children are likely to see them, for example near schools, nurseries and playgrounds.
Giving greater weight to the views of parents in the regulation of pre-watershed TV, rather than viewers as a whole, about what is suitable for children to watch.
Banning the employment of children under 16 as brand ambassadors and in peer-to-peer marketing, and improving parents’ awareness of advertising and marketing techniques aimed at children.