Spring 2003

Quote of the Month; Editorial: Easter Baskets and Hand Grenades; Take Action to Stop Violent Easter Baskets; SCEC Takes The Nation; Storming Washington DC; News from SCEC Member Organizations; Things we wish we didn’t know: Superhero Vitamins Redux; Join Us!

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SCEC NEWS ~ Spring 2003

SCEC News is a regular service for members and friends of the Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children coalition.   SCEC's mission is to stop commercial exploitation of children through action, advocacy, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children.  

IN THIS ISSUE

  • Quote of the Month

  • Editorial: Easter Baskets and Hand Grenades

  • Take Action to Stop Violent Easter Baskets

  • SCEC Takes The Nation

  • Storming Washington DC

  • News from SCEC Member Organizations 

  • Things we wish we didn’t know: Superhero Vitamins Redux

  • Join Us!

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.   It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’  Then there are those who see the need and respond.  I consider those people my heroes.”

Fred Rogers  1928-2003

EDITORIAL:  EASTER BASKETS AND HAND GRENADES

As Easter approaches and war looms, megastores such as Kmart and Walmart are selling Easter baskets for children laden with war toys. Included with the Skittles and Willy Wonka chocolates are military action figures toting AKA rifles, toy grenades, and a board sporting a human figure for target practice. Kmart’s Abigail Jacobs told the Village Voice: "It was meant to be a lighthearted and fun gift." http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0310/baard2.php

Mingling violent war toys with the chocolate bunnies and marshmallow eggs in Easter baskets may trigger fears linked to scary news items and contaminate family traditions, including the peaceful playfulness traditionally associated with Easter baskets. For religious Christians, celebrating the resurrection of the Prince of Peace with military toys is a desecration of their most important holiday.

TAKE ACTION TO STOP VIOLENT EASTER BASKETS

The following suggestions for action come from the Lion & Lamb Project (www.lionlamb.org) and the Parent Coaching Institute (www.thepci.com).

  1.   CONTACT RETAILERS:

Kmart:  1-866-245-6278 (press 1, then press 5)

Abigail Jacobs can be contacted directly at 415-229-9769 or via E-mail at Abigail@bluelight.com

Wal-Mart:  1-800-925-6278 (press 1, then press 4)

Rite Aid:  1-800-748-3243 (press 1, say 3 after the tone)

Genovese:  1-800-325-3737 (press 5)

THANK WALGREENS for pulling these baskets from their shelves:  Contact spokesperson Carol Hively at  847-914-2923 or E-mail: carol.hively@walgreens.com

2.  CONTACT RELIGIOUS LEADERS:

Print out a copy of the Village Voice article and ask your minister or priest to speak about this issue at an upcoming service. http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0310/baard2.php

3. CONTACT THE MEDIA

If you have a Wal-Mart, Kmart, Rite Aid or Genovese store in your community, contact the local media to express your concerns.

 SCEC TAKES THE NATION

A review of Alissa Quart’s book on marketing to teenagers, Branded, includes a significant discussion of SCEC and our 2002 summit,  Consuming Kids: Marketers’ Impact on Children’s Health. SCEC members Susan Linn and Tim Kasser are quoted extensively.

Rebecca Segall reports: “These activists [SCEC] make a strong case suggesting that children and teens don’t have such a developed sense of the world, which leaves them – in the minds of marketers – defined by and valued for their plasticity.” 

Rebecca Segall. “The New Product Placement.” The Nation, February 24, 2003, p. 30-33. You can read the full article at:  /media2/Nationarticle.htm

STORMING WASHINGTON DC

It’s not just the snow that’s been causing a flurry in Washington.  Last month, SCEC held a congressional staff briefing sponsored by Senators Lieberman and McCain on The Impact of Advertising and Marketing on Children's Health and Well-Being, For a list of speakers and a summary of their talks, go to: www.commercialexploitation.com/articles/congressional_briefing_program.htm

We held a round of follow up meetings to pursue a two part agenda: 

1.  We want Congress to authorize the FTC to use its subpoena power (as it did in the tobacco and media violence industries)  to conduct an investigation of marketing practices as they target children.

2.  We want legislation that will provide regulation of market research conducted on children similar to that imposed on academic and medical institutions conducting research with children. This would include protections such as informed consent, which would reveal both the purpose and the possible harms of the research, as well as regulation of cash incentives and the use of children to collect data from their peers.

SCEC has been invited to hold a briefing for the Congressional Children’s Caucus. This is a group of members of the House of Representatives particularly concerned about children. For more information on the briefing go to our website: www.commercialexploitation.com/articles/congressional_briefing.htm

NEWS FROM SCEC MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS

ALLIANCE FOR CHILDHOOD

The Alliance for Childhood's newest project is a two-part effort to focus  on the importance of play. One part promotes healthy play through the creation of "play days" in conjunction with TV Turn-off Week. They are starting in the Washington, DC, area this April 26 but hope this will develop into a national movement. The second part arises from their concern over the new focus on early print literacy for three- and four-year- olds in Head Start and other programs. Federal policy makers want impose a  strong emphasis on academic instruction, with programs evaluated by children's test results. This will almost surely drive play out of nursery schools, as it has been driven out of kindergartens, with their intense emphasis on academic instruction during the past 25 years.

CENTER FOR MEDIA EDUCATION

CME report explores the online world of teens in: TeenSites.com: A Field Guide to the New Digital Landscape This new report surveys the burgeoning new media culture directed

at-and in some cases created by-teens. TeenSites.com examines the uniquely interactive nature of the new media, and explores the ways in which teens are at once shaping and being shaped by the electronic culture that surrounds them. For the full report, go to: http://www.cme.org/teenstudy/index.html

CITIZENS' CAMPAIGN FOR COMMERCIAL-FREE SCHOOLS

The Citizens' Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools has 2 bills in the Washington state legislature.  Over 65 organizations support the effort to get junk food marketing and/or sales out of public schools.  CCCS also recently did a mock 'citizens' arrest' of the Coca-Cola Corporation for multiple violations of the Seattle policy prohibiting advertising on school vending machines.

THINGS WE WISH WE DIDN’T KNOW 

Superhero Vitamins Redux Sundown Kids, a brand of Rexall, Sundown, Inc., is releasing Marvel Superhero shaped vitamins, including Spider-Man, Hulk and Captain America. In 1976, pressured by the advocacy organization Action for Children's Television, the FTC prohibited the Hudson company from advertising Spiderman and other children's vitamins directly to kids. Here we go again! (Reported in Cynthia Turner's Cynopsis: Kids! 03/12/03 http://cynopsis.com/view_cynkids_text.cfm?ID=186)

JOIN SCEC

FOR INDIVIDUALS: With a minimum $25 tax deductible membership you receive:

  • A one year year SCEC membership

  • SCEC e-newsletter

  • Notification of events in your area

FOR ORGANIZATIONS:With a minimum $100 membership you receive:

  • All individual benefits

  • Organizational link from the SCEC webpage

  • Publicity for your events and activities

  • Opportunities to collaborate

SCEC Membership Fees:

$10            Student
$25            Individual
$50            Supporter
$100          Organization
$250          Advocate
$500          Activist
$1000        Stakeholder

Checks should be made out to:

SCEC/Judge Baker Children's Center

and sent to:

Barbara B. Sweeny / SCEC
Judge Baker Children's Center
3 Blackfan Circle, Boston, MA 02115

To make a credit card contribution, please contact Abigail Thomas at athomas@jbcc.harvard.edu