Anglican bishop warns of dangers of advertising aimed at children

 A warning that advertising aimed at children was "in serious danger of producing a nation of fat and greedy children with thin and starving souls" has been made by the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Christopher Herbert. Speaking in a House of Lords debate on direct marketing to children, on Wednsay, the Bishop said that "his heart sank" when he learnt how much advertising was directed at children, and that much of it promoted food products high in sugar, salt and fat. The Bishop asked, "Why are we, as adults in Britain today, so lacking in moral courage that we do not wish to protect children from exploitative and commercial pressure? "Why are we so spiritually bereft as a nation that one third of parents provide a television set in the bedroom for the under-threes? I find that hauntingly sad." He also strongly criticised the marketing practice of referring to children as 'consumers.' He said, "The youngest child is no longer a miracle, a gift or a source of wonder but is simply regarded as a consumer. I find that morally degrading, because it assumes that the child is nothing more than a manipulatable and voracious computerised dustbin." The Bishop welcomed the debate about the issues prompted by marketing aimed at children. He said, "At heart, it is about whether, as a nation, we are prepared to submit to a definition of childhood that sees children simply as consumers. Or whether we have the courage to say that childhood needs protection from exploitation because only in that way can the spiritual needs and rights of children be given a place to grow and flourish. "We are in serious danger of producing a nation of fat and greedy children with thin and starving souls. Is that really the best that we, as adults, can do?" In December, Bishop Christopher spoke of children as the "hidden victims" of domestic violence, in a Lords' debate. He called on drinks companies to spend as much money on encouraging sensible drinking, as they did on their Christmas advertising campaigns. Source: ACN

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