Foreword from Mothers’ Union

Mothers’ Union is a worldwide organisation working to support family life through grassroots membership. We believe in the value of family, in its many forms, as a source of love and support for individuals and the basis for a caring community.

Our Bye Buy Childhood campaign was launched in 2010, highlighting our concerns that childhood has increasingly become a marketing opportunity; and that children are being targeted by and exposed to inappropriate sexualised media and marketing.

Mothers’ Union called on the Coalition Government, in 2010, to adhere to its promise to tackle the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood; and in particular to prohibit the targeting of sexualised media, marketing and products at children. Our campaign also sought to challenge industry and parents to look at their practice; and to support families in managing the commercial world.

The campaign has had a wide reach: 2,000 copies of the Bye Buy Childhood report were produced and distributed alongside 15,000 pledge cards for members and supporters of the campaign to lobby political representatives with. In March 2011, Mothers’ Union presented a 19,000 signature petition to the Prime Minister, calling on the Government to tackle the commercialisation and sexualisation of children.

Shortly after the launch of Bye Buy Childhood, Mothers’ Union’s Chief Executive, Reg Bailey, was invited by the Government to carry out an independent review of the issue, resulting in his 2011 report Letting Children Be Children (the ‘Bailey Review’).

In 2013/14, Mothers’ Union carried out an evaluation of the Bye Buy Childhood campaign, along with further quantitative and qualitative research (1), to ascertain whether parents feel things have changed since our previous research in 2010. Repeating the questions used in the 2010 research, we found an increase in parental concern about the commercialisation of childhood; suggesting greater awareness amongst parents and that change has not yet been fully accomplished.

Whilst the Bailey Review and other work has galvanised industry and regulator goodwill and action to better protect children and empower parents, the Government needs to continue engaging with this important topic to maintain the good work that has been done and steer the UK towards being a world leader on this issue.

We believe more than ever that children should be valued as children and not targeted as consumers.

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 (1) ComRes interviewed 1,081 parents in Britain online between the 4th and 11th November 2013, and 1,001 parents in Britain online between the 18th and 24th August 2010. Data were weighted to be representative of all British adults age 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at www.comres.co.uk. ComRes also conducted five depth in-home qualitative interviews with parents and their children in London in June 2014.