Review to tackle sexualisation of childhood

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Restrictions aimed at preventing sexualised products from being targeted at children are to be considered as part of a new Government review.

Children's minister Sarah Teather has asked Reg Bailey, chief executive of Christian charity the Mother's Union, to conduct the review to address parents' concerns that children are being pressured into growing up too quickly.

The review, to be published next May, will define what is meant by 'excessive commercialisation' and 'premature sexualisation', and investigate its impact. It will also identify what systems are in place for consumers to voice complaints and assess whether new measures are needed to keep businesses from selling children inappropriate products.

It follows media outrage after products such as pole dancing kits and push-up bras aimed at nine-year-olds were stocked by major retailers, including Tesco and Asda.

It will build on previous reviews conducted by Professor David Buckingham on the impact of the commercial world on children's well-being, by Dr Linda Papadopoulos on the sexualisation on young people, and by Professor Tanya Byron on child safety in a digital world.

Ms Teather said, 'By reviewing the 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 businesses to take their responsibilities as seriously as the best ones already do. I want this review to look at how we can equip parents to deal with the changing nature of marketing, advertising and other pressures aimed at children. I also want to see what more needs to be done to ensure that businesses play their part, too.'

Dr Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, 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.'

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