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Government-backed report will recommend restrictions on billboard, television and retail sexualisation of children

By Matthew Barrett
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A report commissioned by David Cameron and written by Reg Bailey, the chief executive of the Mothers' Union charity, on the sexualisation and commercialisation of children, will be released on Monday. It is called "Let children be children", and support from Downing Street is said to be firm.

A recommendation on a new code for retailers of clothing will involve the British Retail Consortium advising retailers against selling suggestive clothes and swimwear for pre-teens. This recommendation in particular has gained the support of Mumsnet, the parenting and family issues website, which launched a similar campaign called "Let Girls Be Girls", last year. 

The Bailey report will mean the internet industry will have to make it easier for parents to block adult and age restricted material, and a single website will be created to make information on the different codes of regulation across the media, communications and retail industries more accessible, and to be able to complain about incidents of sexualisation.

According to the Guardian, the Bailey report says:

"some parts of the business world and sections of the media seem to have lost their connection to parents. We are living in an increasingly sexual and sexualised culture although it is far from clear how we arrived at this point. Many parents feel this culture is often inappropriate for their children and they want more power to say no".

This echoes what David Cameron said in Opposition, with his own experience as a parent of young children and the Camerons' struggle against sexualisation:

"You do your best as parents but there is a lot of pester power going on. You can't cut children off from the commercial world 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."

The report also deals with sexualised imagery in public places, and recommends that the Advertising Standards Authority should discourage billboards being placed near schools. It also recommends that "lad's mags" should be either moved to the top shelf or covered with plain "modesty sleeves".

16005241 The Bailey report will seek to make the watershed "real", as the Daily Mail reports today, clamping down on sexualised and violent images shown before 9pm and introduce cinema-style age certificates for music videos. Ofcom, the television industry's regulatory authority, will give greater weight to the views of parents, instead of general viewers, as to what is acceptable before the watershed. Ofcom will compile an annual report in order to ascertain the views and attitudes of parents.

The report is backed up by a promise from the government that if retailers, regulators like Ofcom and the entertainment industry do not voluntarily comply with the recommendations of the Bailey report within 18 months, the government will step in and introduce tougher regulations.


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