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We want to see an immediate end to all advertising aimed at children of primary school age and younger.
As a society we are broadly agreed that we should protect our children from the worst of the adult world. Teachers, child minders and pretty much all those who wish to work with children are heavily vetted to ensure that they’re both safe and qualified to be trusted with their care.
Yet we have sleepwalked into a situation where the advertising industry, worth £12Bn a year in the UK alone, is allowed to turn techniques designed to manipulate adult emotions and desires onto children as young as two or three. It is iniquitous; it is plain wrong.
Almost all children under 11 depend on their parents for money. So advertising makes heavy use of ‘pester power’ – enlisting children to make demands of their parents – because it is more effective than targeting parents directly.
Yet that is exactly what a civilised society should require advertisers to do – to sell to parents, not to little children. When young children are learning about the cost of material things, and about managing small quantities of money, they should be free to do so without the pressures put on them by advertising.
As things stand we are in danger of turning out generation after generation of young consumers rather than young citizens, people who define themselves more by what they buy and the objects they display rather than by what they can contribute to the society in which they live.
Rather than raise children obsessed with stuff let’s free them to channel their energies into forming friendships, discovering their talents, exploring our extraordinary world and unleashing their imaginations; things that cost little but whose value is immeasurable.
Bans on advertising aimed at young children are already working in places such as Sweden, Quebec and Greece. It’s time for a similar ban here.
Jonathan Kent, writer, broadcaster, co-Founder ‘Leave Our Kids Alone’
Rupert Read, Chair of Green House, co-Founder ‘Leave Our Kids Alone’
Bel Mooney, writer and Daily Mail columnist
Susie Orbach, author
George Monbiot, author, journalist and campaigner
Oliver James, Psychologist, author
Martin Kirk, Global Campaigns Director, The Rules
Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party of England and Wales
Caroline Lucas MP
Dr Ian Gibson, former MP
John Hilary, Executive Director of WAR ON WANT
Tony Juniper, sustainability advisor and writer
Ed Gillespie, Co-Director, Futerra
George Marshall, Climate Outreach and Information Network
Neal Lawson, Chair of Compass
Linda Jack, Chair of Liberal Left.
Baroness Ruth Lister, Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University
Tom Crompton, author, ‘Common Cause’
Adrian Ramsay, Green Party Home Affairs spokesman
Dr Richard House, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, Uni of Winchester
Professor Michael M. Patte, Bloomsburg University
Dr. David Whitebread, University of Cambridge
Dr Teresa Belton, Uni of East Anglia School of Education & Lifelong Learning
Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood
Professor Andrew Samuels, Essex University
Professor Guy Claxton, author and educationalist
Susanna Abse, CEO, Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships
Tanith Carey, author, Where Has My Little Girl Gone? How to Protect Your Daughter From Growing Up Too Soon.
Dr Jennifer Gidley, President, World Futures Studies Federation
Professor Kevin J. Brehony, Froebel Professor of Early Childhood Studies,
Froebel College, Roehampton University
Rev Paul Nicolson, Taxpayers Against Poverty
Dr Lindsay Peer CBE, Psychologist
Claude Knights FRSA, Director of Kidscape
Sue Gerhardt, author and psychotherapist
Greg Brooks, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Sheffield
Fiona Danks, co-author of Going Wild books
Patrick Holford, author and founder of Food for the Brain Foundation
Paul Cooper, National Projects Director, National Children’s Football Alliance
Fiona Carnie, educationalist and writer
Linda Pound, early years consultant
Dr Maria Robinson, Educational Consultant
Dr Gillian Proctor, Clinical Psychologist and author
Prof. Iain McGilchrist, author, The Master and his emissary
Dr Robert Snell, psychotherapist & Kim Crewe, Head of Therapeutic Services, The Dialogue Centre
Sami Timimi, Director of Medical Education, Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation NHS Trust
Dr. Maria Robinson, early years adviser
Dr. Lindsay Peer, CBE
Sir Tim Brighouse, former Schools Commissioner for London
Pippa Smith, Co Chairman, Safermedia
Miranda Suit, Co Chairman, Safermedia
Colin Richards, Emeritus Professor, University of Cumbria
Prof Del Loewenthal, University of Roehampton
Saci Lloyd, author of The Carbon Diaries and Momentum
Dr Bronwen Rees, Director of Centre for Transformational Management Practice, Anglia Ruskin University
Martin Large, author, lecturer, Stroud Common Wealth
Christopher Clouder, International Director, Alliance for Childhood