'Lad's mags' should be covered up, says review

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The Independent Online

Raunchy music videos featuring gyrating and scantily-clad pop stars such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga may soon have a minimum age rating attached, if recommendations made in a review into the sexualisation of children are carried out.

The review, which was commissioned by the Government, was launched amid concern in some quarters over the commercialisation and sexualisation of children in Britain. The author of the report, Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers' Union, said he hoped his review would help tear down the sexual "wallpaper" surrounding today's young people and give parents a stronger voice in regulation.

"Society has become increasingly full of sexualised imagery. This has created wallpaper to children's lives. Parents feel there is no escape and no clear space where children can be children," he said at the launch of the report yesterday.

The Bailey Review, which took place over a period of six months, took evidence from more than 2,000 parents and 500 young people as well as 120 separate organisations.

Other recommendations include the creation of a website to help parents complain about what campaigners have dubbed the "pornification" of children, the banning of suggestive billboards near schools, and steps to make it easier to block adult content on mobile phones.

The review called for an option to request adult material be barred from any new home internet service, laptop or mobile phone should also be introduced and parents given more say in the TV watershed guidelines. "Lad's magazines" should also be sold on the top shelf or have the images on the front covered by a "modesty sleeve".

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, welcomed the report, writing in a letter to Mr Bailey that the report represented "a giant step forward for protecting childhood and making Britain more family-friendly". Speaking at the launch of the review the children's minister Sarah Teather defended the proposals yesterday. She said: "Once we empower parents to be able to complain and air their views without being seen as a prude, I think you'll find appropriate things also sell."

The review comes a day after new guidelines were launched by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) in response to demands for restrictions on inappropriate children's clothing – including lingerie and push-up bras. The guidelines rule out slogans and imagery with "sexually suggestive, demeaning, derogative or political material, or phrasing that could be interpreted as such."

Justine Roberts, who co-founded the Mumsnet website, welcomed the review and new guidelines. "This is not about prudishness or hankering after some rose-tinted picture of childhood," she said. "It's about millions of parents – and many who aren't parents – knowing in their bones that there is something wrong with a society that tries to sell seven-year-old girls four-inch heels, or T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan 'Future Porn Star'."

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