'Let children be children'

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
June 06, 2011, 9:24 PM GMT+0

Three quarters of Britons agree that restrictions on what some deem ‘sexually inappropriate clothing’ for the under 12s should be introduced in one way or another, our poll has revealed.

When asked whether there should be restrictions on the manufacture, marketing and sale of certain types of clothing to children under 12, a strong majority advocated regulation of some kind, either from the Government or from retailers themselves.

The most popular course of action, gaining selection from nearly a third of Brits, was to introduce voluntary guidelines for retailers.

  • 28% believe that voluntary guidelines should be introduced for retails on the sale of inappropriate clothing to under 12s
  • 19% of people think that rules for retailers should be compulsory
  • 18% feel that an independent body should be set up to regulate and enforce rules regarding the clothing
  • 11% would like to see new legislation from the Government to ensure that ‘unsuitable’ clothing is not sold to minors
  • While just 16% of people deem it unnecessary to introduce any restrictions of any kind

Clothing crackdown

The poll comes as news was released today of a Government crackdown on the commercialisation and sexualisation of young people (pictured, left), which includes new rules on the sale of inappropriate clothing to under 12s. Under the new guidelines, retailers will be given 18 months with which to comply to rules restricting the sale of clothing judged to ‘sexualise children’, which many high-street shops themselves helped to compile. If any retailers refuse to comply in time, new Government legislature will be introduced to deal with the offending stores.

Last year, controversy over cut price clothing retailer Primark saw padded bikinis aimed at girls as young as seven (pictured, above) withdrawn from stores after widespread criticism. A number of other items, made for children and sold across the high-street, often bearing slogans such as ‘porn star’, have since caused consternation.

In 2010, online parental powerhouse Mumsnet responded to the long-running issue, launching a campaign called ‘Let Girls be Girls’, calling for an end to the sexualisation of female children, and asking ‘retailers to commit [to not selling] products which play upon, emphasise or exploit [children’s] sexuality’.

Similarly, in April this year, Channel 4 joined the cause, launching its own ‘Stop Pimping Our Kids’ programme, in a bid to protect children from premature sexualisation, while women’s magazine Psychologies’ ‘Put Porn in its Place’ campaign is also aimed at stopping the corrosive impact that sexualised behaviour and pornography can have on young people’s development and conception of relationships.