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The Tories explain how they will stop children being treated like adults

David Cameron Manchester arms stretched One of my favourite lines in David Cameron's conference speech last year was when he said:

"We’ve got to stop treating children like adults and adults like children.”

Today, as previewed last month, the party is explaining how it will try to tackle the first of the first of the issues raised by that soundbite, namely the the premature sexualisation and excessive commercialisation of childhood.

The main points are as follows:

  • Banning any marketing or advertising company in serious breach of rules governing marketing to children from bidding for government advertising contracts for three years;
  • Banning companies from using new peer-to-peer marketing techniques targeted at children, including the recruitment of children as ‘brand ambassadors’ on social networking sites;
  • Shutting the regulatory loophole which allows marketing through interactive games etc on corporate websites targeted at children;
  • Empowering headteachers and governors to ban advertising and vending machines in schools; 
  • Working to establish a new online system that gives people the power to see what others are complaining about, especially in regard to irresponsible products, marketing and other commercial activities targeted at children, making it easier for the public to mobilise social pressure quickly and effectively.

Mr Cameron outlined his motivations for the proposals on GMTV this morning when he said:

''We all know as parents - I have got two young children and there will be many watching this programme - that you do your best as parents but there is a lot of pester power going on.

''What we are saying is that you can't cut children off from the commercial world, of course you can't, but we should be able to help parents more in terms of trying to make sure that our children get a childhood and that they are not subject to unnecessary and inappropriate commercialisation and sexualisation too young. This is what this should be about.''

Clearly some of the measures above involve government action, but Mr Cameron emphasised that more anything else, it is social and parental pressure that can encourage responsibility and de-legitimise irresponsible behaviour (he cited the case of the Lolita bed) - hence it was vital that the government made it easier for parents to make their feelings known with a view to putting on that pressure.

Jonathan Isaby

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