Cameron condemns 'inappropriate sexualisation' of children

Conservative leader David Cameron today spoke out against the growing "inappropriate sexualisation" of children.

Unveiling a range of party measures aimed at giving children back their childhood, Mr Cameron told GMTV: "We all know as parents, I have got two young children and there will be many watching this programme, that you do your best as parents but there is a lot of pester power going on.



"What we are saying is that you can't cut children off from the commercial world, of course you can't, but we should be able to help parents more in terms of trying to make sure that our children get a childhood and that they are not subject to unnecessary and inappropriate commercialisation and sexualisation too young. This is what this should be about."



Mr Cameron outlined proposals for punitive measures against firms found flouting rules against targeting youngsters.

He said: "What we are saying is how can we help parents, so for instance, if a company is found guilty of inappropriate marketing to children, it shouldn't be able to bid for Government contracts for three years. I think that would be a significant deterrent.



"Also, parents when they complain, they are going to have a new way of complaining online and see what other parents are complaining about. I think that will help parents feel 'I am not alone in this, I am not being left on my own to bring up my children properly, other people are helping me'.



"The Lolita beds and the padded bras and the rest of it, in the end most of those products were withdrawn because of parental pressure, so let's help the parents to put that pressure on."



Questioned on whether he was acting too late, given that the Government said they had been working on the issue with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for two years, he said: "Not at all. I've been leader of the Conservative Party now for over four years. I made an early speech about this. Four years ago, I started talking about the problems of sexualisation of children.



"I welcome that the Government are looking at it, they have lots of reviews, but we do need some actions and what we are talking about today are some specific actions that we think will make a real difference in helping parents to bring up their children."





Mr Cameron answered "Of course" when asked by Emma Crosby about a newspaper report claiming he thought it was "not appropriate" for his daughter Nancy to listen to Lily Allen on his iPod and said: "No, listen to something else."

During the interview, he also touched upon speaking about his family in light of Gordon Brown's controversial televised interview with Piers Morgan.

He said: "I've always said, and I think I've been consistent about this over the last four years, that if you want to stand to be prime minister, you are asking people to make a big decision.

"I think you should open up and answer questions where you feel appropriate and let people have a look at you and your life and all the rest of it.

"I've always been quite comfortable in doing that. In the end, what matters is the substance, the policies, the things you are going to change in the country, but I think people do have a right to ask you questions and I've tried to be as open as I can."

He added: "All you can do in politics is do what you think is right. I've always just tried to make a judgment over the last four years about what questions to answer, about how much to open up, how much to let people see of your life...

"As I say, in the end you are asking a really big thing of people, saying trust me, trust my team to come and bring change to the country. All you can do is what you think is right, that's what I've always tried to do."

Commenting on the opinion poll lead of 9 per cent reported in The Sun, he said: "The politicians always say they don't look at the polls. Rubbish, we do look at them. I always want to be doing better. We've been at 40 per cent, 45 per cent, 35 per cent, all over the place.

"I think we are now getting into the final stages before the election, when people can really see there's a choice. Five more years of Gordon Brown or real change under the Conservatives with David Cameron and a new team leading the country."

He added: "We've got to win in every single part of the country, it is absolutely vital. Yes, for a long time the Conservatives were not making headway in the north of England. We are now.

"The last local elections we won places like Lancashire, which has been Labour for 30 years. I think the country is turning towards us but we still have some work to do."





Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "The commercialisation and sexualisation of children is an issue I raised in the Children's Plan two years ago when I became Children's Secretary and it's good to have David Cameron's support because this is something which concerns all parents and is not an issue for party politics.

"We have already acted to protect children from the irresponsible advertising of a wide range of products, including tough new rules restricting the advertising of unhealthy foods to children and the use of celebrities and cartoon characters to market them.



"We have been implementing the recommendations of Dr Tanya Byron's review of how to keep children safe on the internet.



"And in the coming days we will publish the results of a review by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos into the sexualisation of young people.



"Following the publication of the Buckingham review on commercialisation, the Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw and I last month met with the Advertising Standards Authority to discuss some of the issues raised in the Conservative Party document today, including protecting children from marketing online, and further details will be announced shortly.



"The Buckingham Report also makes clear that there is a need to strike the right balance: while there are risks and a need for appropriate safeguards, the commercial world and the media offers children great opportunities too.



"As the review said, the key thing is education, which is why we are making PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education), which includes issues around advertising and body image, a statutory part of the curriculum.



"We believe this should apply to all schools, including academies, and I hope we will have cross-party support for these measures in the House of Commons next Tuesday."

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