Review of recent literature for the Bailey Review of commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood

A Review by the Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre

This paper presents a rapid review of literature on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood to inform the work of the Bailey review team. It addresses the impact of commercialisation on children and their parents, particularly in relation to sexualisation, undue pressure on parents, risks and benefits. It focuses on literature published since 2008 since it builds on, rather than reproducing, reviews already done for the three government reports that predate the Bailey review:

Key issues and challenges in the published literature include evidence that:

• It is widely accepted that there has been an increasing sexualisation of society. However, the debate on 'premature sexualisation' of children is highly polarised.
• Both parents and children make nuanced decisions about what they consume, considering cost, educational value, peer group relations amongst other issues.
• There is evidence that children and adults understand sexualisation differently.
• Children may be less skilled at understanding new methods of advertising than more traditional television advertising.
• There is a need for more focused research literature on the extent of young people's exposure to alcohol consumption.