New powers for parents to curb explicit images in the media

Parents will gain new powers to protect children from inappropriate images in the media, in plans unveiled yesterday.

Four of Britain’s biggest internet service providers, BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin Media, have agreed to make new customers choose between a connection with or without access to adult content as part of the set-up process, in a major move to help parents protect children from internet pornography.

The Government has introduced a series of measures in response to recommendations from an independent review ordered by the Prime Minister last year and published in June on the sexualisation of children.

Ban

Further measures include a ban on sexually suggestive billboard adverts, and stricter rules concerning billboards within 100 yards of schools, which will be regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Parents will also be able to lodge complaints about unsuitable content for children via a government-backed website, ParentPort, which will cover the entire media industry, including advertising, television and radio programmes, websites, newspapers and films.

The website has been jointly developed by the ASA, the Authority for Television On Demand, the BBC Trust, the British Board of Film Classification, Ofcom, the Press Complaints Commission and the Video Standards Council.

Pressure

The independent review, Letting Children be Children, conducted by Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of Mothers’ Union, warned that childhood was being wrecked by sexual images and content.

The Prime Minister welcomed the measures and said: “There is a growing tide of concern up and down the country among parents who, like me, are concerned about our children being exposed to inappropriate advertising and sexual imagery and growing up too early.”

Mr Bailey, commenting on ParentPort, said: “This will be one place where parents can make their voices heard and tell businesses and broadcasters if they feel they have overstepped the line in what is appropriate for children.

Parents

“Parents told me that they often didn’t know who to complain to or whether anything would be done as a result of their complaint. Parents are the best judges of what is acceptable for children so it’s important we all take their views more seriously.”

In June the Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed Mr Bailey’s report, and described it as a “giant step forward for protecting childhood and making Britain more family-friendly”.

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