February 2009

Update: Putting the Book Back In Book Club; Shape Up Scholastic: A New Group on Facebook; Save the Date: CCFC's Next Consuming Kids Summit April 8-10, 2010; CCFC 2008 Summit Presentations Now on YouTube; News Roundup; Book Review:  The Sexualization of Childhood, edited by Sharna Olfman

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Update: Putting the Book Back In Book Club

Our campaign to get Scholastic to put the book back in book club is off to a great start.  Nearly 4,000 of you have already written to Scholastic and our concerns have been featured in newspapers across the US and Canada, including the New York Times.  With your help, CCFC has jump-started a national conversation (including this great editorial) about whether Scholastic is abusing its privileged position in schools by selling items other than books in classrooms. 

So far, however, Scholastic has refused to budge.  When asked about the videogames, toys, and trinkets that permeate Scholastic Book Clubs, a Scholastic executive told the Times:  “In a class of 24 kids, some of them will be turned on by a game, and it helps kids engage in the book club process.”  Her response is telling. She did not say that Scholastic’s goal was to get kids reading, but to “engage in the book club process.”  In other words, to get to children to buy something – anything – from the book club flyers.

We know that Scholastic listens to your concerns. Your letters and blog posts got the company to stop hawking the highly sexualized Bratz brand in schools.  So let's keep the pressure on.  Please tell Scholastic it's time to return to selling books - and only books - through their in-school book clubs, and let others know about our campaign.

Shape Up Scholastic: A New Group on Facebook

Over the years, we’ve received more complaints about Scholastic then any company.  That’s why we started Shape Up Scholastic, a new Facebook group where you can:

--Connect with other parents and educators who are frustrated by Scholastic’s offerings and in-school marketing.

--Share strategies for countering Scholastic’s commercialism and alternatives for getting low-cost books to students.

--Help us track and monitor Scholastic’s in-school commercial activities. 

So if you’re a member of Facebook, please join us at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=65142313178.  (And you’re not, you can always share your concerns about Scholastic or any other company by emailing us at ccfc<at>commercialfreechildhood.org.)

Save the Date: CCFC's Next Consuming Kids Summit April 8-10, 2010

Mark your 2010 calendars!  CCFC’s next Consuming Kids Summit will be held in Boston on April 8-10, 2010.  Since 2001, CCFC has been bringing together distinguished scholars, activists, parents, and educators to talk about how marketing undermines children’s health and wellbeing and what we can do about it.  Stay tuned for information about speakers, topics, and registration in the coming months.

CCFC 2008 Summit Presentations Now on YouTube

Speaking on CCFC’s summits, much of our 2008 sold-out event, Consuming Kids:  The Sexualization of Children and Other Commercial Calamities can now be viewed at CCFC’s YouTube channel.  Watch presentations by CCFC’s Susan Linn, Alvin F. Poussaint, Enola Aird, Joe Kelly, Allen Kanner, Tim Kasser, Diane Levin, Michele Simon and Josh Golin, not to mention Michael Brody, Sara Grimes and the inimitable Julie Gale from Australia at http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=9D3BCD07A6A7F2B7&page=1.

News Roundup

According to reports, President Obama will name Jon Leibowitz as the new head of the Federal Trade Commission, the federal agency charged with regulating advertising.  Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, predicts, "Leibowitz will help transform what has been a largely anemic regulatory watchdog during the Bush years into an agency that sees its first priority as consumer protection." We hope he’s right.  More at http://commercialfreechildhood.org/news/2009/02/obamatoname.html

Tween Brands, the largest clothing retailer forgirls 7-14, has installed an in-store video network at its Justice and Limited Too stores.  The Tween Network’s content is “a mix of fashion, photo shoots, music videos, and artists interviews” plus advertising from other brands such as Nickelodeon.   "We wanted to bring our brand to life within our store and create a destination for tweens and their moms with social content that gives the girls status," said Scott Bracale, president of Tween Brands Agency LLC.  Status? For 7-year-olds?   http://commercialfreechildhood.org/news/2009/02/tweenbrands.html

With schools’ budget woes intensifying during the economic crisis, some states are considering ads on school buses as a source of revenue.  But as this column in the Providence Journal notes, advertising in schools always comes with a significant cost.  http://commercialfreechildhood.org/news/2009/02/advertisingonschoolbus.html.

A new study has found that TV ratings do not accurately reflect the aggressive content of  shows popular among children.  Psychologists Doug Gentile and Jennifer Linder found higher levels of physical aggression in designated children's programs (rated TV-Y and TV-Y7) than among programs for general audiences (rated TV-G, TV-PG, etc.).  "Parents assume that higher ratings indicate more aggression, but the TV ratings don't measure what parents expect that they measure," said Gentile.  For more information about the study, please visit http://www.physorg.com/news154801488.html.

Book Review:  The Sexualization of Childhood, edited by Sharna Olfman

The sixth book in Sharna Olfman’s Childhood in America series, The Sexualization of Childhood is an important look at the consequences of immersing children in a sexualized world.  With chapters by leading experts in sociology, psychology and child development – including CCFC co-founders Susan Linn and Diane Levin – the book explores the ways in which children are being sexualized and the impact on their physical, psychological, and sexual development.  The books concludes with an important section on what we can do – as a society, as mental health professionals, and as parents – to protect children from developmentally inappropriate sexual experiences.  Highly recommended for anyone concerned about the alarming rise in children’s exposure to toxic ideas about sex and sexuality.

Support CCFC.  We rely on our members because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding. To make a tax-free contribution, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate.