Give parents more weight in controlling media standards, says UK report

 

British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken a lead in the
battle against the pornification of culture and the sexualisation of children. A review
he commissioned
has come up with recommendations that would give more weight
to parents’ concerns and encourage retailers and television and music
executives to protect children from sexual images.

Cameron is responding to rising concern among parents about
raunchy music videos which are easily accessed by children using the internet, sexual
imagery on billboards and inappropriate clothing and toys for children, such as
padded bras for girls under the age of 10 and suggestive t-shirt slogans.

The review, chaired by Reg Bailey of the Mother’s Union, was
published Monday under the title Letting
Children Be Children
and includes the following recommendations:


* Putting age restrictions on music videos to prevent children buying
sexually explicit videos, and to guide broadcasters over when to show them

* Putting so-called “lads' mags” on the top shelf, or covering up their
front covers

* When a consumer buys a smart phone, computer, video console -- or any
device connected to the internet -- they should be given the option the moment
they buy it, or first log on, allowing them to top out of receiving adult
content.

* Restricting outdoor adverts containing sexualised imagery where large
numbers of children are likely to see them, for example near schools, nurseries
and playgrounds

* Giving greater weight to the views of parents above the general public in
regulating pre-watershed TV. Ofcom, the regulator, will be in charge of
ensuring that the highly-sexualised dance routines of Rhianna and other pop
stars on the X-Factor before the watershed are not repeated

Parents are definitely troubled about the trend:


A survey of parents carried out as part of the Bailey review found that nine
out of 10 parents fear that children are under pressure to grow up too quickly.

Four of out 10 had seen products or images in public places which were
inappropriate for children due to their sexual content in the past three
months, and a similar number had been worried by items on television which they
considered inappropriate.

But few had done anything about it:


Only eight per cent had complained about inappropriate sexual content in
public.

Cameron says he doesn’t want to legislate on these things but is urging
companies to take parental and community concerns on board voluntarily. He will
meet retailers, advertisers and others in October to hear about their progress.


''We should not try to wrap children up in cotton wool or simply throw our
hands up and accept the world as it is,'' Mr Cameron wrote to Mr Bailey.
''Instead we should look to put the brakes on an unthinking drift towards ever
greater commercialisation and sexualisation.''

Many political leaders could gain kudos by following Cameron’s example.
Already groups in Australia are asking what their government will do about follow-up to a Senate inquiry there in
2008.

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