It was fantastic last week to see clear action being taken by the Government – as promised – to implement some of the major recommendations of the Bailey Report, ‘Letting Children be Children’, which was published in June. The report described a landscape in which our children are bombarded by sexualised imagery, and content designed to tempt them into commercialism, and it set out a range of measures both to prepare children to understand and resist these temptations, and to help protect children from inappropriate material.
Chief amongst these proposals – which included a service for new internet subscribers where they must actively ‘opt in’ if they wish to access adult content, new guidelines on what can be displayed on billboards near schools, and a new app to allow parents to choose the times of day their children can use their phones, and whether or not they can use the internet – was a new website, ParentPort, which gathers together in a single site the links needed to complain to advertisers or parts of the media responsible for material which parents (or others) find offensive or inappropriate for children. It is not perfect – it is far from the ‘single-click’ solution which is the ideal in our world today – but it is an enormous advance, and a hugely encouraging step in the right direction. There is a sense of purpose about it; in using it, you will have the sense that your concerns are being noted, and that someone is listening to you.
It should be noted that this kind of result – a new service for parents – does not happen by accident; it happens because people – concerned parents and citizens – are prepared to stand up and be counted, make their case to their MPs, and garner support for the issues. Pressure groups such as Safermedia have worked tirelessly to draw attention to the subject, and Claire Perry MP has made it a major focus of her work. The work is far from done, however – now that the means to complain about inappropriate images, films etc are in place, we must actually use them to ensure that pressure is placed on advertisers and programme makers to step back from the seemingly endless drive towards more and more sexualised imagery, and greater and greater commercialisation. Only by using them will our voice be heard; only by speaking out will change happen.
So – remember ParentPort. And when you next feel uncomfortable about something you are watching on TV with your child, log on and make yourself heard.