Bye Buy Childhood

Parents concerned about the commercialisation of childhood


Parents remain concerned about the impact advertising and marketing are having, both directly and indirectly, on the lives of children and young people a new Report reveals.


Research published today by Mothers’ Union reveals that despite welcome attention since 2010, four in five (80%) parents in Britain are  concerned about the commercialisation of childhood, and a similar proportion (81%)  say that the media encourages their children to ask their parents to buy them things that they see advertised, indicating the potential impact of “Pester Power”.


The research, which was carried out by ComRes with over 1,000 parents in Great Britain in 2010 and 2013, also demonstrates that the proportion of parents who think advertising that can be seen by children is well regulated has decreased since the charity’s previous research in 2010. Just 30% of parents in Great Britain agree that advertising is well regulated in 2013, compared to two in five (39%) who said this in 2010.


Speaking as the research was published, Head of Faith & Policy and report author Lucinda Hasell said, “the subject of the commercialisation of children has received a lot of welcome attention in the last few years, but our research shows that parents are still concerned about this issue, and only half (51%) of those we spoke to felt equipped to manage the influence of advertising and the commercial world on their family.  Further steps need to be taken to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate advertising and marketing and that parents are empowered to manage the impact of the commercial world


Mothers’ Union will be continuing the Bye Buy Childhood campaign, and is calling on the Government to consider why parents are still concerned about the commercialisation of childhood. Through the report they make six recommendations to Government that they believe will ensure children and family life are not adversely impacted by commercialisation.


“We are calling on politicians to ensure that this important issue remains a priority for the next government” said Mrs Hasell “Nearly half of parents we spoke to (45%) felt that advertising treated children as adults and 68% felt that advertising seen by children can be harmful to them. It is important that industry adheres not simply to the letter of existing regulation, but also considers how to meet the spirit of the regulation. Parents need to have support in both this way and also in the resources and information available to them, to ensure that the childhood of their children is valued by society as a whole.”


Chief Executive of Mothers’ Union, Reg Bailey, whose own 14 recommendations to Government (Bailey Review 2011) have largely been met, agreed that more still needs to be done to maintain vigilance on the way commercialisation affects children. “We’re not looking to wrap children up in cotton wool. We want to say to parents, government, industry and all those who support children, that developing emotional resilience is a key part of enabling our children and young people to deal with the challenges and pressures they face as they engage with the commercial world. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t have to be an uphill struggle for parents – they too need to be provided with effective support. These recommendations are a vital step on the way.”


The qualitative research reveals that parents want to equip their children to be confident and ‘their own people’. Mothers’ Union ongoing campaign will work to ensure that parents, children and young people are educated, equipped and empowered to help create and increase resilience.




Media Enquiries:
Fiona Thomas

Mothers’ Union: 24 Tufton Street, London, SW1P 3RB

Tel: 020 7222 5533  direct line 020 7227 9734  mobile        44 (0)7824 374 275



Daniel McAllister: Head of Fundraising & Communications 020 7222 5533

and more for MU members

Mothers Union launch Bye Buy Childhood 2015

Over the past decade, Mothers Union has played a significant role in speaking out against the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood and in 2010 we launched our Bye Buy Childhood campaign. The campaign and it’s accompanying report sought to influence those who shape childhood – government, the commercial world, parents and the wider society; calling them to take a responsible attitude towards images and information that is geared towards children.

The Buy Bye Childhood 2015 report that we are launching today highlights new research findings, as well as the results of in-depth interviews with a number of parents and the six recommendations at the end of the report calls for continued support for and investment in the area of commercialisation of children from government.

We have been thrilled with the progress that has been made in tackling the issues raised in our 2010 report. However, our latest report demonstrates that there is still much to be done and we are aware that issues raised in the first report are still relevant to parents today.  The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said “I’ve supported Mothers’ Union’s Bye Buy Childhood campaign since it was launched in 2010 and I know just how thrilled Mothers’ Union  members have been to see the response from Government,  Industry and the Third Sector,  as they take measures to protect children. But it is right that Mothers’ Union continues to be vigilant on these issues, and encourages all of us to continue to play our part in not only ensuring that everyone adheres to government regulations, but also strives for best practice to support parents and children.”

We know how much our members have supported this campaign and how it was key to the successful outcomes of the 2010 report. To encourage further support this year we have produced an accompanying engagement pack which has been designed to enable all members to engage with the issues raised in the report and think about how they can join in with the campaigning activities.

The pack has sections designed to help people ‘pray’, ‘to enabled’ and ‘campaign’ there should be something for all members from those wanting to support through prayer, those needing extra support and guidance for their family and those who want to be empowered to actively campaign about the topic.  Remember we are always happy to hear from members about how they have supported the campaign