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Mothers' Union call Church of England to help end commercialisation of childhood

Posted on: July 16, 2015 11:58 AM
Social Policy Manager Rachel Aston presents the Mothers’ Union’s call to action to Church of England synod members.
Photo Credit: Mothers’ Union

[Mother’s Union] Mothers’ Union on Monday asked members of the General Synod of The Church of England to engage with the concerns parents are voicing over the impact of commercialisation on children and on the well-being of the family.

In a debate chaired by the Rt Revd David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon, Mothers’ Union raised awareness of their Bye Buy Childhood campaign and called for help from the Lords Spiritual to raise recommendations in Parliament which have been drafted by Mothers’ Union as a result of their most recent research.

“Despite significant progress since our original research in 2010” said Rachel Aston, Social Policy Manager at Mothers’ Union, “we know that only 50% of parents feel equipped to manage the significant influence of advertising and the commercial world on their family. We want to ensure that parents are empowered to manage the impact of commercialisation, and that Government continues to ensure that regulation is working and that industry follows the spirit, as well as the letter of the law when marketing and selling to children.”

“We also are concerned that nearly seven out of ten parents now agree advertising can be harmful to children, up from six in ten five years ago; and that only three in ten parents believe advertising aimed at children is well regulated.”

The advertising industry was also represented at the event. Ian Barber, Director of Communications for the Advertising Association encouragingly said “When it comes to children’s well-being, everybody must be ready to play their part. The Mother’s Union has inspired a positive debate in our sector and UK advertising is committed to ensuring that marketing to children continues to be responsible and appropriate.  Industry initiatives like Media Smart, created to help teachers and parents talk to children about advertising, are a great example of how we can make a real difference.” 

Photo Credit: Mothers' Union

Parent Allie McClean also on the panel spoke eloquently on how, even in a supportive partnership bringing up children to be resilient to the pressures of commercialisation and sexualisation takes dedication and constant need for support. For single parents, she outlined, the pressures must be enormous. Peer pressure, pester power and the need for guidance to handle the external pressures, is ongoing and she welcomed the news that Mothers’ Union’s guide for parents “Labelled for Life” will be reissued to cover emerging media later this year.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby; the Bishop of Colchester, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell; the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill; and the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler were amongst those who came to hear the debate and give support. Bishop Butler welcomed the report and called for its wider dissemination and support. 

Visit the Bye Bye Childhood campaign website to learn more.