Last year, I was approached by a leading figure of the Lancashire Mothers’ Union, who lives in my Morecambe & Lunesdale constituency. This was my first introduction to the “Bye Buy to Childhood” campaign.
The campaign sought to challenge the commercialisation of children.
At that time, figures published by the Mothers’ Union suggested that nearly three-fifths of parents of children under 18 believed that advertising is harmful to them.
I decided to be the first MP to table an EDM on the issue. As a father of two sons, I am acutely aware of how influenced our young people are by advertising.
I began to research the marketing to and sexualisation of children and discovered that marketing to children has become an industry; in fact it has become big business worth ninety nine billion pounds. This is a huge industry.
Earlier this year the Prime Minister commissioned a report into the sexualisation of children, which was published this week by Mothers’ Union CEO Reg Bailey.
I welcome the report; it is thought provoking and I am certain will lead to much debate both in Parliament and among parents.
As a former songwriter, I have thought for some time that music videos are becoming too raunchy. I welcome the idea of placing age restrictions on pop music videos.
A number of other recommendations were made. Including “providing parents with one single website to make it easier to complain about any programme, advert, product or service.” I think such a website would be easy to set up and could be a vital tool for parents who believe that their children are being inappropriately marketed to.
The Prime Minister will summon retailers, advertisers, broadcasters, magazine editors, video games and music industry chiefs and regulators for a summit in October to discuss progress.