Commercialisation or choice?
I have often said as a mum that I was glad I had a blue one rather than a pink one. This is in reference to being the mother of a son rather than a daughter and the pressures around them. Sarah Tether, the children’s minister has announced a review into the commercialization and sexualisation of childhood. It is to be led by Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers’ Union The purpose is to look at the way products are marketed and how children are being pressured into growing up too fast. Among the products mentioned at the launch are T-shirts with ‘Porn Star in the making’ or ‘Wag in training’ all aimed at the 5yr old plus age group, mainly girls.
Obviously, parents are entitled to buy whatever they like and bring their children up in anyway they choose providing they do not harm them. For schools, especially those across the primary age range this freedom can cause problems. Appropriateness is to some extent a matter of opinion. As far as dress is concerned many schools adopt a uniform to provide unity not only of look but of ethos. However, when it comes to ‘non-uniform’ days or discos and dances, the sky can be the limit on what the children wear!
On these occasions, where does the head teacher’s authority lie? Can they ban certain items like those mentioned above? Does fashion play a part in the moral compass of a society and if so what role does a school have in supporting it or not?
From a debate on Radio 5 it would seem that many parents struggle with ‘pester power’ and find items in their shopping baskets that perhaps they would not have chosen themselves. As long as these items are bought, shops will sell them but do schools have a place in the supply and demand cycle? Should schools help parents by banning certain things that in years past would have been the concern for children in their late teens? Apparently, one primary head teacher has banned hair extensions. We certainly had a restriction on piercings only allowing one stud in each ear.
A school provides a community with a focus. Different types of families will attend it and cover a wide range of views. There will be those who support the strappy tops and high heels. Others will want childhood to last as long as possible. What should the school’s approach be? Is it enough to use the curriculum to teach safety and choice or should there be a limit on what is acceptable?
Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.