March 2010

CCFC and Disney: Thank You So Much for the Support; Children, Commercialism, and Environmental Sustainability; CCFC Asks FCC to Help Parents Protect Children; Let’s Move – Will it Move the Food Industry?; New Research: Food Industry Self-Regulations Are Not Working; Truth and Consequences by Susan Linn, Ed.D.; Support CCFC

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CCFC and Disney: Thank You So Much for the Support

We’ve been so touched by your response to the news that we were forced to leave our home at the Judge Baker Children's Center in the aftermath of phone calls from Disney. Thanks so much for great blog posts, tweets, and heartfelt emails. (We haven’t been able to respond to each of you, but we read every one.) We were also happy to see, on the heels of the New York Times coverage of our ouster, this great editorial in our hometown paper, The Boston Globe.

We especially appreciate the special contributions many of you made to support our transition. Thanks to your generosity, we will be able to continue our important work reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers. For more on our forced departure -- and its implications for advocates for children -- please see "Truth and Consequences" by CCFC's Susan Linn below.

Children, Commercialism, and Environmental Sustainability

At CCFC, we are committed to raising awareness about the links between marketing to children, excessive consumerism, and environmental degradation. That’s one reason why we’re honoring Annie Leonard, creator of the Internet sensation The Story of Stuff, with the Fred Rogers Integrity Award at this year’s Consuming Kids summit.

In this month’s issue of Solutions, CCFC’s Susan Linn and Tim Kasser team up with Tom Crompton of the World Wildlife Federation to urge environmental organizations to recognize that “the same people who are going to have to demand change and adapt to lower levels of consumption are currently being told several hundred times or more per day on TV, on the Internet, and on their cell phones that consumption is the pathway to happiness, love, acceptance, and success.” You can read the whole article here.

CCFC Asks FCC to Help Parents Protect Children

In response to a Notice of Inquiry on the rapidly evolving children’s media landscape, CCFC filed comments urging the Federal Communications Commission to support parents in their efforts to protect children from harmful media and marketing. CCFC’s comments focused on three of our core concerns: The false and deceptive marketing of screen media for babies as educational; the widespread marketing of violent PG-13 movies to young children; and the excessive commercialism and privacy violations of many products marketed to parents as tools for children’s protection on the Internet. The comments were prepared by the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University and can be read here.

Let’s Move – Will it Move the Food Industry?

Last month, to great fanfare, First Lady Michele Obama launched the "Let’s Move" campaign to address childhood obesity. We asked CCFC Steering Committee member Michele Simon, author of Appetite for Profit, for her thoughts about the campaign so far. Here’s what she had to say:

So what's all the fuss over Michelle Obama's “Let's Move” campaign to end childhood obesity, and will it make a difference? Of course, it's too soon to know for sure (it just launched last month), but early signs indicate more talk than action and deafening silence on corporate marketing practices. Continue reading at Michele’s Appetite for Profit Blog . . .

New Research: Food Industry Self-Regulations Are Not Working

In 2008, many of the nation’s major food companies formed the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) in an effort to stave off government regulation. The CFBAI was supposed to improve the food environment for children by having companies adopt voluntary—and self-defined—guidelines for marketing food and beverages to children. We, and many other advocates, were understandably skeptical that self-regulation would end the barrage of junk food marketing aimed at children. Two recent studies demonstrate that these fears where well founded.

In December, research released by Children Now conclusively demonstrated that the food industry's self-regulation efforts have failed to significantly improve the nutritional quality of foods marketed to children.  And a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity finds that in-store promotions aimed at children – such as the use of licensed characters on packaging – are increasing dramatically. And the nutritional quality of the items marketed through these cross-promotions actually declined over the course of the three-year study. Is there anyone not on a food company payroll who honestly believes the food industry will shape up on its own?

Truth and Consequences by Susan Linn, Ed.D.

One essential component of moving on is to take stock of the past and wrestle with its meaning. While we can’t deny the personal toll of CCFC’s ouster from Judge Baker Children’s Center, our major concern now is the take away message for parents, advocacy groups, educators, public health professionals, and individual activists.

Throughout time, power brokers have used retaliation—and exploited fear of retaliation—to silence dissent and maintain the status quo. We've learned from other movements that change happens—and only happens—when people remain committed to telling the truth, and standing up for social justice, even in the face of powerful deterrents, and adverse consequences.

Representatives speaking for the Judge Baker Board have said that CCFC’s work—including simply speaking out publicly against exploitative corporate marketing practices—posed “too much risk” for the institution. We can’t let the assertion stand. First of all, we don’t believe that it’s true. But if it is true—that we live in a society in which corporations are so powerful that the protectors of children’s health must be silent about the commercialization of childhood or face reprisals—then we have to change that society.

That’s why we are committed to continuing to work through every legal means possible to stop the commercial exploitation of children. As one colleague commented on hearing about Disney’s calls to JBCC, “Well, it’s a sign that you’re having an impact.”

Thanks for all of the support—from old friends and new. We intend to keep on making a difference.

Support CCFC

We rely on you because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding. To make your tax-deductible donation please visit: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate.