Several high street stores have pledged to review their product lines after they were accused of stocking clothes that sexualised children.
The promise came after one popular high street chain, Primark, was forced to withdraw its padded bikinis for seven-year-olds last week after critics condemned the store for fuelling child sexualisation.
It emerged last week that stores including Next, Tammy, Tesco and Peacocks were also selling similar products.
Primark was also found to be stocking underwear aimed at young girls bearing the slogan: “You’ve scored”.
Simon Wolfson, Chief Executive of Next, said: “We will look into the issue. If anything needs changing, we will do it immediately.”
Peacocks made a similar pledge, with its boss Richard Kirk saying: “We have started checking every product to make sure everything is appropriate.”
Tesco, Tammy and Primark said products would be reviewed.
Primark’s decision to withdraw its padded bikinis for young girls was made after the Children’s Society slammed the high street chain for “premature sexualisation and unprincipled advertising”.
A child protection consultant who works to help victims of paedophilia said: “It never fails to amaze me just how many High Street household names are now prepared to exploit the disgusting ‘paedophile pound’.”
Parents warned that children were facing pressure to grow up too soon.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron, who branded the product “disgraceful” in a BBC Radio London Interview, said he was “delighted” the bikini had been withdrawn.
He said: “I am delighted they have taken the decision to withdraw this as we need a more responsible society and that means not just the Government playing its role but, as I said at the launch of my manifesto, all of us recognising we are in this together.
“Parents want to protect their children from the commercialisation and sexualisation that can take place in our society”, he added.
“Businesses have got to think of their responsibilities. I’m glad Primark has done this.”
Linda Papadopoulos, author of a recent Home Office report on the sexualisation of children, said: “It is shocking to think how many people would have been involved to get these products on the market. And how desensitised they must have been not to consider their impact.”
The bikini sets were on sale in Primark for just £4 until last Wednesday. They were bright pink with gold stars.
Primark apologised for “any offence caused” and said they would donate any profits from the sale of the bikinis to a children’s charity.
Jenny Stallard, deputy editor of Practical Parenting and Pregnancy magazine, said: “A padded bikini for seven-year-olds is too much at too young an age. No wonder girls are confused about their bodies and self image.”
Schoolgirls discuss pressure of sex
Penny Nicholls, director of children and young people at The Children’s Society, said: “We know from our research that commercial pressures towards premature sexualisation and unprincipled advertising are damaging children’s well-being.
“The evidence shows that adults feel children are more materialistic than in past generations, while children themselves feel under pressure to keep up with the latest trends.”