Mothers' Union believes that children should be valued as children, not consumers. Yet marketers target children's natural inexperience in order to reach the household purse. Giving children the message that they are what they own, rather than valuing them for who they are, can negatively affect their wellbeing.
Mothers' Union launched the Bye Buy Childhood campaign in 2010 to challenge the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. We spoke to MPs, petitioned the Prime Minister and carried out awareness raising across the UK & Ireland. Shortly after the launch, Mothers' Union Chief Executive, Reg Bailey, was commissioned by the Government, to carry out an independent review into the issue.
Since then, we have seen significant action taken by Parliament, industry and regulators to ensure that marketing and goods aimed at children are appropriate; to protect and build resilience within children as they engage with the commercial world; to support parents and carers in managing the impact of the commercial world; and to change the commercialised and sexualised landscape of modern life.
However, following further research, Mothers' Union has found that the commercialisation of childhood is still a reality. Four out of five parents report being concerned about the commercialisation of childhood and 86% about the sexualisation of childhood. And whilst their concerns have increased, many parents lack confidence in dealing with the issue, with only half (51%) of parents feeling equipped to manage the influence of advertising and the commercial world on their family.
Our Bye Buy Childhood 2015 report presents our research findings, along with the results of in-depth interviews with a number of parents, and outlines new recommendations to Government.
- Parliament should continue to address the impact of the commercial world on children. It is important that this issue continues to receive cross-party support.
- Existing practices should be monitored and scrutinised to ensure that existing regulation is working.
- Government and regulators should strengthen wording in the regulation of marketing and selling in relation to children so that it is harder to comply with the letter while avoiding the spirit of regulation.
- Government should review whether current sanctions offer sufficient disincentive and, with the regulatory bodies, consider stiffer penalties after a certain number of complaints have been upheld.
- Government should put in place incentives, measures and funding to increase parental engagement, with the energy that was shown with the introduction of ‘active choice’, in line with recommendation ten of the Bailey Review; and invest in long term monitoring and evaluation of such measures, including the numbers of parents reached and the impact on parental awareness and understanding.
- Government should evaluate the media literacy resources aimed at children and whether they have developed greater resilience in children, in line with recommendation 11 of the Bailey Review; and provide the long term necessary investment to do so.
Alongside the report we have produced an engagement pack for Mothers' Union members, and other supporters of the campaign, to get involved. Join us in making a difference to the lives of children and young people!
Bye Buy Childhood continues to speak out on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood - join us to make a difference to the lives of children and young people.
You can contact us at Bye Buy Childhood, Mothers' Union, Mary Sumner House, 24 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3RB; on 020 7222 5533; or at firstname.lastname@example.org