Protections urged for children in 'sexualised' Britain

6th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain should consider putting age ratings on music videos to protect children from raunchy images that may force them to grow up too soon, a government-commissioned report said Monday.

Amid widespread concern about the commercialisation and sexualisation of children, the report also called for greater powers for parents to block products, television shows and Internet content they think is inappropriate.

It urged advertisers and publishers to move sexualised images out of the sight of children, whether from newspaper front pages or billboards located near schools, and asked shops to stop selling 'sexy' children's clothes.

"Society has become increasingly full of sexualised imagery," said report author Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Christian family charity Mothers' Union.

"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 welcomed the recommendations, in particular for a one-stop website where parents could complain about inappropriate adverts, products, services or television programmes, to which regulators would be forced to respond.

He urged regulators and businesses to act and report back to him in October, adding in an open letter to Bailey: "We should not to try and wrap children up in cotton wool or simply throw our hands up and accept the world as it is.

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

To coincide with the report, the British Retail Consortium industry body published new guidelines urging its members to avoid selling clothes made with revealing fabrics and cuts or suggestive logos, or underwear that could be seen as too grown-up or 'sexy', such as underwired, padded or black bras.

Cameron has condemned retailers in the past for selling padded bras for seven- and eight-year-olds, and has the support of the mainstream conservative press, which has long lamented what it sees as the loss of innocence among British children.

When his Conservative-Liberal Democrat government took office in May 2010, the two coalition partners vowed to make British society "more family-friendly".

© 2011 AFP

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