Sexualised products for children facing age curb plan

Children's Minister Sarah Teather says parents face a tidal wave of pressure from sexualised marketing to children.

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Retailers selling sexualised products aimed at children could face new restrictions under plans being considered by the government.

An inquiry to explore whether rules should prevent the marketing of items such as "Porn star" T-shirts or padded bras to children has been set up.

A code of conduct on "age appropriate" marketing and a new watchdog are among plans being considered by the review.

Children's Minister Sarah Teather said parents faced a tidal wave of pressure.

She said: "Parents often find themselves under a tidal wave of pressure, buffeted by immense pester power from their children for the latest product, craze or trend.

"I want this review to look at how we can equip parents to deal with the changing nature of marketing, advertising and other pressures that are aimed at their children."

She has asked the chief executive of Christian charity the Mothers' Union, Reg Bailey, to conduct the review, which will also look at the commercialisation of children.

Ms Teather told the BBC it was the cumulative impact of things like magazine images and unsuitable products marketed at young people that worried most people.

She said: "We have heard from parents about the impact of going into shops and seeing things that are unsuitable.

"If you are a mum and dad, trying to take your children Christmas shopping - it's a pretty hellish experience at the best of times - but when you are seeing all these images all the time it increases the pressure on families."

She added: "By reviewing commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood we want to better understand not only how we can help parents resist these things, but also how we encourage all businesses to take their responsibilities as seriously as the best ones already do."

'Lap-dancing kits'

She said it was difficult for parents to protect children because of the influence of music videos, displays in High Street shops and features in teen magazines and on websites.

Inquiry chief Mr Bailey is calling on parents to send him examples of products of concern.

He will also work with businesses, retailers and advertising firms to ensure that any recommendations he makes are plausible.

He said: "It's about the tone and the style of the way things are marketed to children. When you are so bombarded by marketing and sexualised imagery, it almost becomes wallpaper."

Start Quote

Confronting this issue is vital if we are to move closer to a family friendly society”

End Quote Katherine Rake Family and Parenting Institute

Other items which have been criticised include lap-dancing kits and Playboy-branded pencil cases.

In May, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to take action to protect children from "excessive commercialisation and premature sexualisation".

He said he was shocked to discover beds with a "Lolita" branding were being marketed towards six-year-olds.

Lolita is a novel, later adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie, in which a middle-aged man becomes sexually obsessed with a precocious 12-year-old girl.

The Family and Parenting Institute welcomed the inquiry and said parents were concerned that young children were experiencing "too much too young".

Chief executive Katherine Rake said: "Mothers and fathers regularly tell us that they don't want to see childhood disappearing.

"Confronting this issue is vital if we are to move closer to a family friendly society. We look forward to seeing progress made."

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