Mothers’ Union call for support from Church of England to help end the commercialisation of childhood

Mothers’ Union today, Monday 13th July 2015, asked members of the General Synod of The Church of England to engage with the concerns parents are voicing over the impact of commercialisation on children and on the well-being of the family.

In a panel led debate chaired by Rt. Rev David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon, Mothers’ Union raised awareness of their Bye Buy Childhood campaign and called for help from the Lords Spiritual to raise recommendations in Parliament which have been drafted by Mothers’ Union as a result of their most recent research.

“Despite significant progress since our original research in 2010” said Rachel Aston, Social Policy Manager at Mothers’ Union, “we know that only 50% of parents feel equipped to manage the significant influence of advertising and the commercial world on their family. We want to ensure that parents are empowered to manage the impact of commercialisation, and that Government continues to ensure that regulation is working and that industry follows the spirit, as well as the letter of the law when marketing and selling to children.

"We also are concerned that nearly seven out of ten parents now agree advertising can be harmful to children, up from six in ten five years ago; and that only three in ten parents believe advertising aimed at children is well regulated

 The advertising industry was also represented at the event. Ian Barber, Director of Communications for the Advertising Association encouragingly said “When it comes to children’s well-being, everybody must be ready to play their part. The Mothers Union has inspired a positive debate in our sector and UK advertising is committed to ensuring that marketing to children continues to be responsible and appropriate.  Industry initiatives like Media Smart, created to help teachers and parents talk to children about advertising, are a great example of how we can make a real difference.”  

Parent Allie McClean, also on the panel, spoke from personal experience on how, even in a supportive partnership bringing up children to be resilient to the pressures of commercialisation and sexualisation takes dedication and constant need for support. For single parents, she outlined, the pressures must be enormous. Peer pressure, pester power and the need for guidance to handle the external pressures, is ongoing. She welcomed the news that Mothers’ Union’s guide for parents “Labelled for Life” will be reissued to cover emerging media later this year.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the Bishop of Chelsmford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Mike Hill and the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler were amongst those who attended the debate and gave their support. Bishop Paul Butler welcomed the report and called for its wider dissemination and support.  The full repot and engagement pack can be found here. The "Call to Action" given to those in the room can be found here