Thursday, 18 February 2010

Conservative Protection for Children

I was particularly pleased to see David Cameron's announcement today on Conservative plans to help families protect children from premature sexualisation and excessive commercialisation.

The measures are designed to crack down on irresponsible marketing practices and products targeted at children.

"I want to make Britain the most family-friendly country in the world", Cameron said. "A key part of helping families and mending our broken society is making sure that business is responsible in how it markets and advertises products to children".

The proposals launched today include:

* Banning the most manipulative marketing techniques aimed at young people
* Strengthening the regulatory framework
* Giving people the power to make complaints
* Banning irresponsible companies from winning future government contracts.

Cameron emphasised that "social pressure" is the best way to combat irresponsible behaviour and encourage responsibility, saying that the Conservatives would "make it easier for parents to mobilise against campaigns and products that they think are inappropriate".

But, he added, the Government still has an important role too. "A Conservative Government would take the tough action needed to help families and build a society in which we stop treating children as adults", he said.

This is an issue that I have been concerned with for some time, particularly when you see kids in inappropriate t-shirts that they either do not or should not understand the meaning of, and the media. In a discussion about this issue with David Cameron last year, I raised the importance of responsibility of the press. It is aboslutely vital that the responsibility agenda (which I fully support) embraces all areas, and particularly the press.

It would be ideal for this to happen voluntarily through people and parent power, and through the offering of carrots but it is important that there are potential sanctions or sticks there for companies that choose not to behave responsibly.

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