Leave Our Kids Alone

LOKA3Today, together with my friend Rupert Read I launched a campaign to end advertising targetting young children.  It started with a letter to the Daily Telegraph (below).

It’s called Leave Our Kids Alone and we’ve started a petition.  Please sign and share.

You can follow on twitter @LeaveRKidsAlone and we have a Facebook page too.  Thanks for your support.

Dear Sir/Madam

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.

Yours faithfully

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

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6 Responses to Leave Our Kids Alone

  1. Andy. says:

    Thanks for this post, and for initiating this campaign. I have certainly signed up. I trust it will be a step in allowing our children to enjoy a childhood free from the commercial pressures the adult world wants then to feel. Every success, Andy.

  2. jenni says:

    Heard you on Radio 4 this morning. My kids are nearly all grown up but I will certainly sign up for the sake of my grandchildren.

  3. Joyce Danbury says:

    Read about you in George Monbiot’s article in Tuesday’s Guardian. Hope you succeed .This is a pressure children can do without. Absolutely agree with your statement.

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