Bye buy childhood?
Is childhood getting shorter – are children encouraged to grow up more quickly and act and dress like mini-adults rather than children? Are children being over-exposed to sexual images on TV and the internet, and if so can they be protected? Should we trust retailers to stock appropriate clothes and other items for children, or do we need regulation to protect our kids?
As a researcher to Sir Alan Beith MP, I was asked to speak to the Mothers’ Union in Amble on this theme.
Commercialisation is using children as a marketing opportunity, and “training” them to be avid consumers as they grow up and have money to spend. Sexualisation is about children’s exposure to media with an inappropriate sexual content and selling inappropriate products.
Changes in access to the media mean it can be far harder to limit our children’s exposure to images and messages we might want to keep away from them. Most children now have TV in their bedrooms, and many have internet.
The Bailey Report on the commercialisation and sexualisation of children makes recommendations including a single point of contact for parents and others to complain about inappropriate media material, marketing and/or products. It also calls for music videos to be age rated, like films and tv shows, and for music channels on TV to follow the watershed guidelines on the timing of transmissions.
The Amble members of the Mothers’ Union welcomed the publication of the Bailey Report, which ties in with the MU Bye Buy Childhood campaign. It will be interesting to see what happens on Bailey’s recommendations and what practical changes emerge, and a further review is planned in six months’ time.
Sir Alan Beith MP and I would be very interested in readers’ views, and can be contacted at the Constituency Office, 54 Bondgate Within, Alnwick, NE66 1JD or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Clare Mills
Senior Researcher to Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP