CARE welcomes review on sexualisation of childhood

Christian social policy charity CARE has welcomed the findings of a major review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of children.

The review, headed up by Mothers’ Union chief Reg Bailey, makes a number of recommendations aimed at tightening up regulations on sexualised media, marketing and retail.

They include putting age restrictions on raunchy music videos and banning sexy billboard ads near schools.

The Bailey Report also recommends an end to the sale of inappropriate clothing for children such as padded bras or T-shirts emblazoned with provocative slogans such as ‘porn star’.

Magazines and newspapers with sexualised images on the front page should be kept out of the sight of children and parents should be given the right to choose at the point of purchase whether they want adult content on their home internet, laptops or smart phones.

Broadcasters will also be under pressure to pay greater attention to the concerns of parents when it comes to what they air and when.

“Society has become increasingly full of sexualised imagery,” said Mr Bailey.

“This has created a wallpaper to children’s lives. Parents feel there is ‘no escape’ and no ‘clear space’ where children can be children.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has written to Mr Bailey expressing support for the review.

He said the report was a “giant step forward” in protecting childhood and making Britain more family friendly.

“We should not try and wrap children up in cotton wool or simply throw our hands up and accept the world as it is,” he said.

“Instead, we should look to put ‘the brakes on an unthinking drift towards ever greater commercialisation and sexualisation’.”

CARE called upon the government and industry to take the necessary steps to protect children’s innocence.

Chief executive of CARE, Nola Leach, said parents were worried and looking to government and business to “embrace big society values that protect the innocence of children into their business practices”.

CARE director of parliamentary affairs, Dan Boucher, said: “The time has now come for industry to have proper regard for child welfare and to put front and centre in their planning and creative process an appreciation that their products, goods and services might be seen or experienced by children. The psycho-geography of our communities, families and country - which include billboards, shop displays, the online environment and products themselves - need to prioritise protecting children.”

The publication of the report comes as retailers signed up to new good practice guidance for stores on the sale of children’s clothing launched by the British Retail Consortium today.

Director of public affairs at the consortium, Jane Bevis, said guidelines were needed to ensure that clothing on sale protected children’s “modesty”.

“These new guidelines provide extra reassurance for parents that these companies are just as concerned as they are about what their children wear,” she said.

“No responsible retailer wants to stock items which will upset their customers or that people don’t want to buy.”

Debenhams, Next and Marks & Spencer are among the retailers to have signed up to the guidance.