Belfast Telegraph

Child groups welcome plan to stamp out sexualisation of young

By John Mulgrew and Connla Young

Child protection groups in Northern Ireland have given a broad welcome to government plans to clamp down on the sexualisation and commercialisation of children.

Prime Minister David Cameron has already backed plans for a new website to help campaigners highlight incidents of what they call the "pornification" of children.

The Tory leader has also backed moves to make it easier to block adult content on mobile phones, ban raunchy billboard posters near schools and bar children from being used to market certain products.

He added that he would summon retailers, advertisers, broadcasters, magazine editors, video games and music industry chiefs for a summit in October to discuss progress.

Linda McClure, Barnardo's NI Head of Operations, welcomed the "public debate that the Bailey Report has provoked".

She said "Through our research into bullying we know there is a real pressure on young people to grow up more quickly and that children and young people face many pressures and challenges.

"Young people need the tools to prepare them to form healthy, respectful and emotionally fulfilling relationships and any measures that help protect the innocence of childhood should be explored."

Under the changes proposed, steamy pop videos would be restricted to older teens and later television slots and magazines featuring sexualised images covered up on shelves.

An option to request adult material be barred from any new home internet service, laptop or mobile phone should also be introduced and parents given more say in the TV watershed guidelines.

However Children's Food Campaign co-ordinator Christine Haigh said the report did not go far enough to address the problem of children being "bombarded by messages encouraging them to eat the types of foods that contribute to ill health in later life".

"With a focus on the much-needed action required to tackle the sexualisation of children, other forms of commercialisation have been neglected, including junk food marketing that has proven negative effects on children's food choices, diets, and health," she said.

The report's author said he hoped the business community and broadcasters will take on more responsibility for helping protect families.

Mr Bailey said: "Regulators, businesses and broadcasters should do more to connect with parents - it's not enough for them to work out what is acceptable from what people complain about afterwards."

Background

The Bailey Review was commissioned by Reg Bailey, chief executive of Christian charity the Mothers' Union and concerns the sexualisation of children throughout the media and retail sectors. The review took evidence from more than 2,000 parents, 500 young people and 120 separate organisations. PM David Cameron has backed the proposals.

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