British Prime Minister David Cameron has backed proposals in a new report that says children should be protected from exposure to sexual imagery.
Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of Mothers’ Union, has led a six-month independent review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. He calls on businesses and broadcasters to play their part and protect children from the “wallpaper of sexual images that surround children”.
Music videos of a sexual nature should be restricted to late hours of television, according to the report entitled ‘Letting Children Be Children’. It also suggests that magazines with sexually provocative images should be covered up on shops’ shelves. Other proposals include giving advertising billboards and music videos age-appropriate ratings in the same way that films are, and making it easier for parents to block internet and mobile phone pornography.
Most major British retailers have already signed up to guidelines under which they cannot sell inappropriate or ‘sexy’ clothing to pre-teens. These may include padded or underwired bras, T-shirts with sexually suggestive slogans and see-through ‘sheer’ blouses for small girls.
Cameron said he agreed with the “central approach” set out by the report but did not indicate readiness to introduce legislation to tackle its findings. Instead he noted that some of the recommendations are for regulators and businesses, and that he would “invite retailers, advertisers, broadcasters, magazine editors, video games manufacturers, music producers, internet and phone companies, regulators and all other interested parties” to a meeting in October where they can report back how they have acted according to the recommendations of the report.
Bailey’s review took evidence from more than 2,000 parents and 500 young people as well as 120 separate organisations.
Cameron said he wanted a progress report by October on the development of a website that sets out “simply and clearly what parents can do if they feel a programme, advertisement, product or service is inappropriate for their children.”
Another point on which Cameron agreed with the report was the employment of young children for big companies’ marketing strategies. In a past Daily Telegraph article it was found that around 300,000 children, some as young as five, had been recruited by companies including Mattel, Nintendo and Coca-Cola. In many cases they were made ‘brand ambassadors’ and given ‘points’ if they talked positively about new products on social networking websites.
By Ali Sheikholeslami