Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood

I read the Letting Children Be Children report with interest, as it is something I believe in quite strongly, but I fear the report is misleading.

I agree wholeheartedly that sexualised clothing for children is wrong. I have seen young girls wearing clothing unsuitable for their age group. Asymmetric t-shirts with adult slogans, or the playboy bunny emblazoned on them. The report states "nearly nine out of 10 parents surveyed for this Review agreed with the statement that ‘these days children are under pressure to grow up too quickly’". I'd tend to agree, but I would also like to know who bought these t-shirts for their young daughter? Who allowed the child to wear the clothing? David Cameron won't allow his six year old daughter to listen to Lily Allen. Who bought her the CD then, Dave?

I agree that we need stronger ways of controlling what our children see, but parents need to take more responsibility. If my child wanted to watch a programme on television that I thought was unsuitable, I wouldn't allow my child to watch. If my child wanted to play violent computer games and they were not old enough (games are controlled by ESRB ratings), I simply would not allow it. I can't understand why a parent wouldn't want to be part of their child's life; why they wouldn't want to protect them from the horrible things out there, and help guide them when the time was right.

Point 14 in the report: "We are all living in an increasingly sexual and sexualised culture, although it is far from clear how we arrived at this point. Many parents feel that this culture is often inappropriate for their children. They want more power to say ‘no’. Some parts of the business world and sections of the media seem to have lost their connection to parents and this is compounded in some new media where there is limited regulation. Where regulation does exist, regulators need to connect better with parents and encourage businesses to comply with the ‘spirit of the regulation’." Parents, you do have the power to say no. If you do not wish your child to see inappropriate images on the internet, then sit with them, add parental controls, set up a PIN system. All are free and easy to do. If you do not wish your child to see an 18-rated film, do not let them, do not buy it for them, monitor their television. Some comments I have read on online forums about this, seem to imply that it is not the parents' responsibility, it is the Government's. I don't want a new regime of draconian measures against children's freedom to suddenly be imposed. Children should explore and learn and form opinions, but if you are concerned enough, then you will shield them from things that will harm them.

I love zombie films, the gorier the better, but I wouldn't have wanted my niece or nephews (when they were young) to watch the films I watch. They're horrific! That's why I love them, but I love my family more, and so want to protect them.

I am worried that this report will do more harm than good, and take the onus to protect childhood off parents and square it on the Government. I also worry that new draconian measures will be enforced. If there is to be a single website where parents can complain, just imagine who will do so. I don't think I'm being far-fetched when I say (and this is my blog so I can): members of Mumsnet and fundamentalist Christians. What will this do to the already shocking portrayals of LGBTQ people on television?


Xen Xen said...

I agree that parents need to step up, but we are all being programmed to believe it takes a village, but that the village is our society and government at hand. I strongly believe that if I don't want to see my daughter wearing something when she is 17, she shouldn't be wearing it when she is 7 and I will always feel this way, I think.

Thanks for the post, it is definitely a topic that gets too little attention.

Andrew Craig Williams said...

Thanks for your comment. I agree with you about the village idea, and while it is a lovely idea, it remains just that. Big Society as a concept is different from what Dave thinks it is.

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