Parents, let your children be children
Hats – and saucy corsets – off to Mothers’ Union boss Reg Bailey.
Reg is not a name that I expected to see as the chief executive of this institution. But his report and recommendations about the commercialisation and sexualisation of children are suitably commonsense. He recognises that the sexualisation in particular of children is a genuine concern among mums and dads.
And he understands that we need help to protect our youngsters from inappropriate products, scenes and images, including unacceptably raunchy acts on supposed "family" shows like Britain’s Got Talent.
Under the changes proposed by Mr Bailey’s review, steamy pop videos would be restricted to older teenagers and later television slots and magazines featuring sexualised images covered up on shelves.
And all new home internet services, laptops or mobile phones would have the option to ban adult material.
Parents would also be given more say in the television watershed guidelines.
The review coincides with stricter guidance for shops selling children’s clothing.
In case you didn’t know, that includes padded bras for under-10s and lacy lingerie that is currently marketed to children. Sick.
Hollywood habits make the action plan more difficult, though.
One day Miley Cyrus is the wholesome star of the TV show Hannah Montana. Not to my taste, but something no parent would be uncomfortable with their child watching.
In the blink of an eye, though, the pin-up of the Western world’s tweenagers has "reinvented" herself to become the scantily-clad pin-up for leering young – and not so young – men.
Others – including Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera – have done the same, and played their part in making young, impressionable girls think that success is proportionate to the amount of flesh you display.
However, the biggest stumbling block on Reg’s road to reclaiming childhood for children lies closer to home. It’s the parents. Not all of them, clearly, but certainly a sizeable minority.
The same mums and dads who no doubt see a "pervert" lurking on every street corner are all too happy to send their children hurtling towards premature adulthood in knee-high boots and lashings of make-up.
The tasteless behaviour begins almost at birth.
No sooner are they out of the womb and given a wipe down than their spongy feet are forced into Adidas trainers. I’m only glad that parents have the good grace to keep back the boots until the child is walking.
Another essential stop on the rite (wrong?) of passage to premature adulthood is the ear piercing, which is always accompanied by the sound of a small child screaming and the parents shouting "shut up, Savannah, it looks lovely".
The poor girl is then smeared with more make-up than Barbara Cartland, and dolled up in revealing clothes and a pair of boots.
It is wrong, it is exploitative and it is abusive.
It happens because too many parents think that their children are toys, not people. They parade them like trophies, making their identity depend on the label on their clothes.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a legislative solution to the problem. So how about this? Let’s make the offenders walk the streets of their home town in unfashionable clothes until they confess and treat their children as children again.
posted on 14 June 2011 08:47 bySteve Downes