/ Parenting

It’s right to stop the sexualisation of kids

Child trying on high heels

High heels, sexy slogans and raunchy lyrics… just a few of the sexualised products children encounter every day. But the Bailey Review, out today, could help put the brakes on the speed at which children become adults.

Am I turning into a ‘prude’? Recently the husband and I have been complaining about some of the inappropriate things bombarded at the kids, particularly our daughter.

So I’m really glad that it’s come under the spotlight with the Bailey Review from the Mothers’ Union.

Are children growing up too quickly?

The report, to be published later today, looked into the commercialisation and sexualisation of children and covers the internet, clothes, television and advertising.

It’s expected to announce that children are being pushed into an adult world too soon, with retailers promising to stop selling items like high-heel shoes, underwired bras and sheer tops for children high up the agenda.

Some strong recommendations about advertising are also said to be backed by David Cameron. These include banning any billboard advertising with sexy imagery away from schools and ‘making it easier for parents to block adult and age-restricted material’ across all media. Plus, children will be stopped from being paid to promote products in schools or on social networking sites.

Girls being targeted the most

As I have one of each – a girl and a boy – I’ve seen the difference between the advertising that tries to entice the kids to extract cash from us. With boys it’s mainly sporty stuff but it’s really disappointing that the industry seems to think that girls are just in a rush to grow up.

The clothes are a real eye-opener. If you’re dragged around a shop looking for an outfit for a 10-year-old girl you will definitely come across slogans on T-shirts which are designed to be suggestive in a sexual nature.

Then there’s the music with songs telling you all sorts in lyrics. My daughter will happily sing along and, fortunately, doesn’t bother to interpret the message behind the words.

Let’s move forward positively

Now I’m not going to moan about the good old days, because I would not want to inflict one of my mother’s home-knitted scratchy jumpers on anyone and I do think it’s good to have more choice than just the kids’ department at C&A. But the industry should be a little more creative about the messages they use to try and market at young girls. We should all protect our children, not just parents, as surely it’s in all our interests.

I’m just not convinced that trying to squeeze very young girls into high-heels and inappropriate clothes is the right way forward so I would love the advertising industry to work a little harder. Let’s hope the recommendations from this report make it as far as the high street.


You’re not turning into a prude Jenny, you are 100% correct.

When little kids are cheering on prostitutes in the name of ‘liberalism’ something has to change. I remember South Park doing a fantastic parody of this situation with Paris Hilton as the main protagonist challenging Mr Slave to something that would probably get edited on here 🙂

Mandy says:
6 June 2011

I’m not sure how effective it will all be, given that we live in a world where the children’s mothers and teenage sisters are surrounded by pressure to conform to a particular way of being female which seems, depressingly, not to allow for much deviation. Music videos are just one reflection of this. How do you shield young children from the wider world around them? Just because they’re not walking around in padded bras at seven, doesn’t mean they’re not imbibing the messages.

Kate says:
6 June 2011

When my friends daughter started imitating Beyonce’s dancing, aged 4 some years ago, I knew there was cause for concern. It’s sometimes cute and funny, and of course Beyonce is a talented woman, but it’s not acceptable that children are inspired by sexual provocation at such a young age whilst we line the pockets of mass corporations – music and fashion. I completely support the proposed restriction of music videos -that are verging on the explicit- being played before bedtime.

I work as a designer for a large well known brand, particularly directed towards children’s product. It is (and always has been) strictly unacceptable for us to create clothing with age-inappropriate messages and slogans. If we receive complaints from mothers, we risk damaging our strength of core family values. Kids should be kids and it’s as simple as that.

I agree, Kate. I saw a little girl of about four clip-clopping around Convent Garden in high heels the others day and I was tempted to go and have words with the parents. It’s depressing that shops sell this stuff – but shocking that parents actually buy it. It’s good to hear that the brand you work for has strict morals on this issue.

Children's Food says:
6 June 2011

While the Children’s Food Campaign welcomes some of the recommendations of the report, such as prohibiting the use of children in peer-to-peer marketing and a consistent definition of children as those aged under 16, we’re concerned that an opportunity has been missed to tackle the incessant junk food marketing that children are exposed to. Childhood obesity in this country is at its highest level ever, and the UK has the unenviable title of the fattest country in Europe.

This review is meant to have taken into account the views of parents, who said that they wanted the barriers that stop them from being good parents to be removed. Research by the British Heart Foundation shows that over two-thirds of parents favour a 9pm watershed for junk food marketing, with only seven per cent opposed – yet food marketing doesn’t get a single mention in the report.

For more information, see http://www.sustainweb.org/news/bailey_review_missed_opportunity/

LAM says:
10 June 2011

Perhaps parents could learn to say no and mean it. Its not the junk food thats the problem its parents feeding it to children there’s something wrong with the world when advertising is blamed, please parents get a grip.

Too true LAM – look at the stupidity Jamie Oliver came up against, with parents feeding their kids junk food through the school gates. Unfortunately, many parents have swallowed the line that if they don’t buy what the marketing companies want them to, they are not giving their kids the best. You can’t get away from the truth that the best things can’t be bought, and what we most want is not necessarily what we need.