Reg Bailey Review

The Guardian carries a report on the findings of the forthcoming review on the sexualisation of children by Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers’ Union. This sounds like a creative and welcome set of proposals and marks quite a fundamental change from a debate dominated by the denials and hand wringing of the marketing industry of past years after the publication of Consumer Kids.

That tone of that debate matters, because although it is the response of Government rather than the proposals of the review that will define what now happens, this is an issue for us all. To find a way through that is good for children and their development, with early sexuality and gender roles so imprinted in the cultural environment in which they grow up, is a complex and multifaceted challenge. The point, at heart, is for children to value themselves more for who they are rather than how they are seen.

This can only be addressed through a common sense of purpose – a social policy that is not just about Government but about all involved in young people’s lives taking their share of responsibility.

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One thought on “Reg Bailey Review

  1. As Ed’s co-author of Consumer Kids I also welcome the Bailey Review which has taken forward many of the issues we flagged up a couple of years ago. We opened our book with the story of the practice of large corporations paying kids to sell to other kids (“peer-to-peer marketing” or “brand ambassadors”). This was one of the 3 areas of the Bailey Review that David Cameron picked out for special mention in his reply. Other welcome recommendations are the retailers code and the age rating for music videos.

    But what seems particularly important in this Review is the call for parents to be put back in the loop. The commercial world has fast moved online taking children with it but leaving many parents behind. Parents are left feeling out of touch with other parents and unsure how best to respond to commercial pressures. It reminds me of a concept called “false consensus.” An experiment was done in a football stadium where banner adverts for a range of brands were posted. Questionnaires with specatators after the match showed that they over estimated (by quite some margin) the size and strength of the brands advertised. In other words if you see something all around you and all the time you tend to think it’s bigger than it really is. So it is with types of children’s clothing and adverts for cool products. You see them so much you come to assume everyone else is buying them and you are the only one who is not.

    The Bailey Review calls for parents to be consulted about advertising and broadcasting and for there to be a single website for regulators which parents can easily access as well easy mechanisms for complaints. Let’s hope it lets parents get back in the driving seat where they have a more accurate picture about what’s going on.

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