Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Parents Bill of Rights

The Parents Bill of Rights: Putting Families Before Commercialism
by Gary Ruskin and Jonathan Rowe
WHEREAS, the nurturing of character and strong values in children is one of the most important functions of any society; WHEREAS, the primary responsibility for the upbringing of children resides in their parents; WHEREAS, an aggressive commercial culture has invaded the relationship between parents and children, and has impeded the ability of parents to guide the upbringing of their own children; WHEREAS, corporate marketers have sought increasingly to bypass parents, and speak directly to children in order to tempt them with the most sophisticated tools that advertising executives, market researchers and psychologists can devise; WHEREAS, these marketers tend to glorify materialism, addiction, hedonism, violence, and anti-social behaviour, all of which are abhorrent to most parents; WHEREAS, parents find themselves locked in constant battle with this pervasive influence, and are hard pressed to keep the commercial culture and its degraded values out of their children's lives; WHEREAS, the aim of this corporate marketing is to turn children into agents of corporations in the home, so that they will nag their parents for the things they see advertised, thus sowing strife, stress and misery in the family; WHEREAS, the products advertised generally are ones parents themselves would not choose for their children: violent and sexually suggestive entertainment, video games, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and junk food; WHEREAS, this aggressive commercial influence has contributed to an epidemic of marketing-related diseases in children, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, alcoholism, anorexia, and bulimia, while millions will eventually die from the marketing of tobacco; WHEREAS, corporations have latched onto the schools and compulsory school laws as a way to bypass parents and market their products and values to a captive audience of impressionable and trusting children; WHEREAS, these corporations ultimately are creatures of state law, and it is intolerable that they should use the rights and powers so granted for the purpose of undermining the authority of parents in these ways; THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Australian Parliament should right the balance between parents and corporations and restore to parents some measure of control over the commercial influences on their children, by enacting this Parents' Bill of Rights, including the following legislation: Leave Children Alone Act: Bans television advertising aimed at children under 12 years of age. Child Privacy Act: Restores to parents the ability to safeguard the privacy of their children. It gives parents the right to control any commercial use of personal information concerning their children, and the right to know precisely how such information is used. Children's Advertising Subsidy Revocation Act: It is intolerable that the federal government rewards corporations with tax write-offs for the money they spend on psychologists, market researchers, ad agencies, and media in their campaigns to instill their values in our children. This act eliminates all tax subsidies and deductions for advertising aimed at children under 12 years of age. Advertising to Children Accountability Act: This act helps parents affix individual responsibility for attempts to subject their children to commercial influence. It requires corporations to disclose who created each of their advertisements and who did the market research for each ad directed at children under 12 years of age. Commercial-Free Schools Act: Corporations have turned the public schools into advertising free-for-all zones. This act prohibits corporations from using the schools and compulsory school laws to bypass parents and pitch their products to impressionable schoolchildren. Product Placement Disclosure Act: This law gives parents more information with which to monitor the influences that prey upon their children through the media. Specifically, it requires corporations to disclose, on packaging and at the outset, any and all product placements on television and videos, and in movies, video games, and books. This prevents advertisers from sneaking ads into media that parents assume to be ad-free. Child Harm Disclosure Act: Parents have a right to know of any significant health effects of products they might purchase for their children. This act creates a legal duty for corporations to publicly disclose all information suggesting that their product(s) could substantially harm the health of children. Fairness Doctrine for Parents: This act provides parents with the opportunity to talk back to the media and the advertisers. It makes the Fairness Doctrine apply to all advertising to children under 12 years of age, providing parents and community with response time on broadcast TV and radio for advertising to children. Children's Food Labelling Act: Parents have a right to information about the food that corporations push upon their children. This act requires fast food restaurant chains to label contents of food and provide basic nutritional information about it.

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