SCEC NEWS ~ Summer, 2004
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
Senator Harkin Introduces Historic Legislation to Protect
Children from Marketing
Recently, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
introduced the HeLP (Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention) Act.
This comprehensive healthcare bill includes several
important provisions to protect children from exploitative
If passed, the bill will reinstate the Federal Trade
Commission’s (FTC) rulemaking authority to issue
restrictions on advertising to children. In 1980, corporate
lobbyists persuaded Congress to rescind the FTC’s power to
regulate marketing to children. Since then, child-directed
marketing has escalated exponentially with virtually no
The bill also gives the Secretary of Agriculture the
authority to prohibit food marketing in schools that
participate in the federal School Lunch or Breakfast
programs. In recent years, there has been an explosion of
in-school marketing, including corporate-sponsored newscasts
and educational materials, advertisements in hallways,
cafeterias, and gymnasiums, and exclusive pouring rights
contracts with soda manufacturers.
In addition, the HeLP America Act will help protect children
from tobacco companies by giving the FDA the authority to
regulate tobacco ads and eliminating the tax deductibility
of tobacco marketing.
SCEC has endorsed this historic legislation and, in
conjunction with the media reform organization Free Press,
has launched a campaign to build support for it. Please urge
your Senators to take a stand for children and families by
supporting the HeLP America Act. Go to
Urge your Representatives to attend SCEC’s next
Congressional Briefing: Predatory Marketing: The Impact on
This Friday, July 16, the coalition to Stop Commercial
Exploitation of Children, in conjunction with the Children’s
Caucus, will host a Congressional breakfast briefing about
what Time Magazine calls “the burgeoning and increasingly
controversial business” of marketing directly to children.
The briefing will be be hosted by Dr. Alvin Poussaint of
Harvard Medical School and include panelists Enola Aird (the
Motherhood Project), Michael Brody (American Academy of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry), David Jernigan (Center on
Alcohol Marketing and Youth), Velma LaPoint (Howard
University) and Susan Linn (Judge Baker’s Children’s
Please call your Representative and urge them to attend this
important briefing. (The phone number for the Congressional
switchboard is 202-225-3121). And if you live in the DC
area, why not attend? The briefing will be held in Room B354
of the Rayburn Office Building from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.
Book Review: Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of
Childhood by Susan Linn
This new book from SCEC’s co-founder Susan Linn is a
comprehensive and unsparing look at the demographic
advertisers call "the kid market." Drawing on the latest
research and child development theory, Linn argues
forcefully that many problems facing children and families –
including childhood obesity, precocious sexuality, youth
violence, and excessive materialism – all share an important
contributing factor: the “marketing maelstrom” that targets
children every waking moment. Some of the most damning
evidence comes from the marketers themselves; when Linn goes
undercover at a marketing conference, she hears plenty about
market share and brand loyalty - but nothing about what’s
good for children.
A must-read for parents, educators, policymakers, and anyone
who cares about children, Consuming Kids is certain to
inspire a new wave of activism among those who wish to
reclaim childhood from commercial interests.
Daniel Hade and Karen Lewis Join the SCEC Steering Committee
SCEC is pleased to announce that two new members have joined
the coalition’s already star-studded Steering Committee:
Karen Lewis is the Program Director for
a non-profit organization that encourages children and
adults to watch much less TV in order to promote healthier
lives and communities. Ms. Lewis also spent years as an
activist in the tobacco wars, working to protect children
from cigarette marketing.
Daniel Hade is an associate professor of Language and
Literacy Education at the Pennsylvania State University. His
specialty is children's literature.
Public Believes Youth Marketing Harms Children:
Results from a New Online Survey
According to recent online survey, Americans are extremely
concerned about the practices of the youth marketing
industry. The survey of 978 adults, conducted by
psychologists Tim Kasser of Knox College and Susan Linn of
the Media Center of Judge Baker Children’s Center, with Dads
and Daughters, found that:
Most respondents (78%) believe that youth marketing harms
· 89 % believe marketing contributes to youth eating
unhealthy foods that cause obesity.
· 91 % believe that marketing contributes to children
nagging parents for things they want to buy.
· 90% believe that marketing contributes to youth being
· 93% believe the marketing industry contributes to children
being too materialistic.
An overwhelming majority (84%) think that the industry is
not doing a good job of keeping itself in check; in
addition, 74% think that the industry should be subject to
more government oversight.
"The people who responded to the survey don't hold a very
high opinion of companies that market to children," said Dr.
Kasser, noting that only 4% agree with the statement “the
current practices of the youth marketing industry are
ethical,” while almost 85% disagree.
In addition, most respondents favor restrictions on
marketing to children.
· 81% believe that schools should be commercial free zones.
· 80% believe that marketing to children eight and under
should be prohibited.
· 61% believe that marketing to children twelve and under
should be banned.
To view the complete report of the Knox
College/Judge Baker Children’s Center Survey, please click
Report from the Mother’s Council: Self-Regulation Isn’t
In related news, a recent report by SCEC coalition member
the Mothers' Council found “a glaring gap between what the
advertising industry says about self-regulation - and what
it actually does.” Of particular concern: The Children’s
Advertising Review Unit (CARU) – the cornerstone of the
industry’s self-regulation efforts – has only seven
full-time employees to monitor a $15 billion-a-year
industry; CARU’s principles are “routinely ignored by many
in the industry”; and CARU does not regulate many of the
techniques such as advergaming and in-school marketing that
are routinely used to target children.
“This report confirms what public opinion is telling us,”
said noted psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint, “When it comes to
marketing to children, self-regulation is not working. We
need to find a better way to protect our children.”
To read the complete report, please visit:
Name Your Coalition
We know. When we tell people about Stop Commercial
Exploitation of Children, they inevitably say, “It sounds
like you’re doing great work. But that name . . ..”
So the coalition to Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children
will soon become the coalition formerly known as Stop
Commercial Exploitation of Children. And the new name?
That’s where you come in. Please send us your suggestions to
firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31. And if the Steering
Committee selects your suggestion, you’ll get a signed copy
of Susan Linn’s Consuming Kids.
SCEC Quad Cities
A group of concerned citizens and parents in the Quad Cities
has formed an organization to address counter the commercial
exploitation of children on a local level. With already
nearly 40 members, SCEC-QC will work to raise public
awareness about the harms associated with marketing to
children and implement actions in the Iowa/Illinois area. If
live the Quad Cities and are interested in joining SCEC-QC,
please contact Kathy Bowman (563-359-6106;email@example.com)
or Joyce Wiley (309-797-5669;
firstname.lastname@example.org). And if you live anywhere and are
interested in meeting with other SCEC members in your area,
please let us know (email@example.com)
Members Speak: The Joy of Doing Something
By Becca Arnold, Citizens for Responsible Media (www.medialegislation.org)
As I sat listening to the California Assembly Committee on
Entertainment and Tourism discuss State Parks, I shifted
restlessly in my chair, knowing that the issue that had
brought me to Sacramento was next on the agenda. I had been
asked just that morning to testify. I had never even
attended a hearing – much less spoken at one! But the
legislation was desperately needed -- a proposal to require
parental permission for children to purchase violent video
games. A closet activist, I had spent most of the last four
years tracking violent media legislation around the United
States and posting it to my website; while only timidly and
occasionally publicizing my views aloud.
When this bill was introduced, I knew it had little chance
of passing. But I also knew that, pass or fail, the more
publicity around the bill, the more parents and elected
officials would be hearing that protecting our children from
emotional media abuse is government business. These seeds of
awareness would likely take years to flower, but they would
never flower at all unless someone started planting. So with
that conviction I opened my closet door and stepped out,
closed it firmly behind me, and very quickly learned how to
I write this article in the hopes of inspiring other closet
activists. I write to inspire you by letting you know that
my first lobby effort was invigorating, joyful, and – most
importantly – easy. Getting the bill passed was not easy –
in fact, it did not pass. But being a freshman lobbiest was
easy – and the minutes and hours I spent at it were
unarguably some of the most meaningful in my life. I’m
So here is what I did, for use as a primer by others:
1. I called the office of the legislator who introduced the
bill, and told the legislative aide that I was ready,
willing, and able to help in any way they could use me.
2. The aide gave me a list of supporters, and I telephoned
or emailed all of them asking them to publicize this bill to
their organizations, friends, and family. I wrote the email
“blurb” for them to make it as easy as possible, and sent a
link to my webpage where I put extra information about the
3. I kept contact with the aide, so that each time the bill
progressed (or regressed) I could decide which supporters to
re-contact with new email messages.
4. I heard of a preschool convention in my town, and set up
a table with information.
5. I chose to go to Sacramento to show support as the bill
was heard in Committee. I also chose to speak, but most of
the supporters did not..
And that’s it! Any small or large parcel of what I did is
what any concerned citizen could do! It was easy because the
gratitude of others accepted and encouraged even the
smallest and clumsiest effort a beginning lobbiest like
myself put forth. And next time I’ll know more and do more!
Back to the Committee meeting. On that April morning,
minutes after agreeing to speak, I sat looking at the group
of people a few rows up, hired by the entertainment
industry. I knew they had a presentation that was polished
to a fine sheen by dozens of other testimonies – testimonies
at states and cities whose noble attempts at protecting
their own children had dotted my webpage for the past four
Had I ever even been in a Committee hearing? Once, while on
a field trip in grade school? Maybe? I was a little nervous
– but why wasn’t I terrified? I didn’t even have anything
prepared! Asking those questions of myself I realized with
deep conviction that I had more right to be speaking than
anyone else in that room. I was speaking for children, so
what could there be to fear? I looked again at the hired
industry testifiers and wondered if they were nervous. I
wondered how they would sleep that night – especially those
with children of their own. I could only guess about them,
but I knew that I would sleep very, very soundly. And I did.
Things We Wish We
About 140 Mastercard employees have “volunteered” to teach
lessons in personal finance to high school students in the
St. Louis area . . . 1
To make eating more fun, Pringles potato chips will have
trivia questions printed on them using ink made of food
coloring. Even more frightening: A Pringle’s spokesperson
says the chips may have ads printed on them in the future. .
McDonald’s is hoping to make their “I’m lovin’ it” theme
into an audio logo. For instance, the theme will be played
regularly at NBA basketball games next year. “Imagine
hearing those five notes filling a basketball stadium every
time a three-point shot is made," gushed Larry Light,
executive vice president and global chief marketing officer
at McDonald's. . . 3
FOR INDIVIDUALS: With a minimum $25 tax deductible
membership you receive:
FOR ORGANIZATIONS: With a minimum $100 membership you
All individual benefits
Organizational link from the SCEC web page
Publicity for your events and activities
Opportunities to collaborate
SCEC Membership Fees:
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
1 Credit card employees help at school, but raise
questions. Associated Press. (May 23, 2004). Retrieved May 24,
2004 from http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/8740196.htm?1c
2 Nolan, J. (2004, May 22). Eating your words.
Associated Press. Retrieved May 24, 2004 from http://washingtontimes.com/business/20040521-101101-9319r.htm.
3 Ives, N. (2004, May 24). For McDonald's, the
'I'm lovin' it' phrase. The New York Times, C1