June 2013

Our 20K Match — Put Us Over the Top; Protecting Children’s Privacy; Keeping School Buses Ad-Free; The Dark Side of Marketing Healthy Food to Children; Libraries, Commercialism, and Intellectual Freedom; Thank MOM’s; Recommended Reading

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In this issue:

Our 20K Match — Put Us Over the Top

As our fiscal-year draws to a close, longtime supporter Jim Metrock has stepped up with a generous challenge: If we raise $20,000 by June 30th at midnight, Jim will match it. Thanks to the generosity of so many of you, we’re close to our goal. But we still need to raise another $3,500 to qualify for the match. While $20,000 is chump change to corporations that target children, like McDonald's and Disney, it will make all the difference to CCFC. We can’t afford to miss this opportunity.

Please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate to make your tax-deductible contribution today. To learn more about why Jim supports CCFC, click here.

Protecting Children’s Privacy

We’ve been working hard with allies in several states to stop school districts from helping corporations profit off of schoolchildren’s most sensitive and confidential information. inBloom, a Gates Foundation initiative, will store student information in a "data cloud” and share that information with for-profit corporations—with no guarantee that the information will be kept secure. inBloom is configured to collect extremely sensitive, personally identifiable student data, including student names, grades, test scores, detailed disciplinary, health and attendance records, race and ethnicity, economic and disability status.

The good news is that, in the face of a sustained parent outcry and extensive media coverage, four states have already pulled out. But five are still committed to develop and pilot-test the initiative. Let’s step up the pressure so that no child is exploited by inBloom’s data-collection scheme. Please visit our action pages for Massachusetts, Illinois, North Carolina, and Colorado to tell your state’s Department of Education to end its relationship with inBloom. If you live in New York State, please visit our coalition partner Class Size Matters to learn how you can protect your child’s privacy.

Keeping School Buses Ad-Free

Another legislative session, another round of victories for CCFC in our ongoing campaign around the country to stop state legislation that would allow advertising on school buses. Only four bills were introduced this year—in Florida, Missouri, Virginia, and West Virginia—and all four were defeated. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 13 consecutive school bus ad bills defeated since our efforts began in 2012. So don’t bet against us in 2014!

The Dark Side of Marketing Healthy Food to Children

Last week’s 7th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference was significantly enlivened by a debate on whether to market “healthier” food to children. Some food advocates have been pushing to put cartoon characters, like Dora the Explorer, on packages of reformulated processed food, as well as produce. But CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn and Michele Simon (president of Eat Drink Politics) take the position that pushing companies to market products like the less-sugary Scooby Doo Cereal actually harms children—and is an ineffective strategy in the struggle to improve children’s diets. Here’s why.

Libraries, Commercialism, and Intellectual Freedom

Like for most public institutions, the commercial pressures on libraries are increasing—from corporate funding to the increased presence of brand-licensed toys and books. Yet commercialism threatens an important function of libraries—preserving and promoting intellectual freedom. That’s why the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children' (ALSC) invited CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn to speak at the American Library Association’s meetings in Chicago this weekend.

Librarians may feel overwhelmed by pressures to commercialize their children’s room, but it’s heartening to know that many are resisting. One children’s librarian who took an effective stand is Sara Patalita, from the Georgetown Branch of the Allen County public library in Indiana, who eliminated media-linked toys, puzzles, and games from the library’s collections. When asked why she did it in an interview on the ALSC blog, Ms. Patalita gave a deceptively simple answer: “…I want children to be viewed primarily as consumers of information, not potential (paying) customers.”

Thank MOM’s

At CCFC, we often ask for your help in calling out companies that exploit children. But it’s just as important to support companies that do the right thing. Please join us in thanking MOM's Organic Market, a Baltimore and Washington area grocery store, for ridding its shelves of any and all products featuring cartoon characters. Scott Nash, MOM's founder and CEO, explained this unprecedented decision: “Marketing to children is wrong and should be illegal. Advertising is a shady game. It focuses on creating a shallow emotional attachment instead of pointing out the merits of a product. Unfortunately, it works—and young children are particularly susceptible.”

Let’s show other businesses how much support there is for companies that refuse to target children. We’ll share your thank you to MOM's with leading grocery chains around the country. If just a few chains follow the brave example of MOM's, we will change the equation for grocery manufacturers and make targeting children with cartoon-covered packaging unprofitable.

Recommended Reading

New Book: #lightwebdarkweb: Three Reasons to Reform Social media Be4 It Re-Forms Us - The multi-faceted Raffi Cavoukian—singer, songwriter, activist, director of The Centre for Child Honouring—takes on the Info Tech Industry’s exploitation of children in this highly readable, nuanced critique of new technologies. With a focus on children’s developmental needs, Lightweb Darkweb argues that society can optimize the benefits of the Internet only by acting to reduce its shadow of social, ecological, and health hazards.

And on the Web: