June 2010

CCFC's Fiscal-Year-End Campaign: Help Put Us Over the Top; It's Here!  The Brand New CCFC Blog; Addicting Games Update:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; CCFC's Enola G. Aird Launches Mothers for a Human Future; CSPI Threatens to Sue McDonald's Over Happy Meals; Licensed Characters on Food Packaging Affect Kids' Taste Preferences, Snack Selections; The Centre for Child Honouring Launches Children & Nonviolence Initiative; CCFC Appreciation:  Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D.

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CCFC's Fiscal-Year-End Campaign: Help Put Us Over the Top

Thanks to the generosity of so many of you, CCFC is thriving in our new home.  With your help, we'll launch some of our most important campaigns ever in the coming months -- we're taking on school commercialism, sexualization, marketing media violence and commercial creep.  Help us reach our fiscal-year-end goal of $20,000 by making your tax-deductible contribution today.  And remember, all donations of $50 or more will be matched by an anonymous donor. 

Please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/support to support CCFC today!

It's Here!  The Brand New CCFC Blog

Can't wait for the monthly newsletter to get your CCFC fix?  Well, wait no longer.  Announcing: the brand new CCFC blog, featuring the latest on developments in marketing to children, updates on efforts around the country to reclaim childhood, and the musings and opinions of CCFC's staff and diverse Steering Committee members.

On the blog now:  Susan Linn heads to the movies and finds that Toy Story 3 is a film that "cloaks itself in positive messages while cynically undermining them by brand licensing, product placement and cross promotions." Plus, Josh Golin on the next BusRadio and more!

Addicting Games Update:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We've got some good news to report in our ongoing campaign to get Nickelodeon to stop promoting its Addicting Games website to young children.  Thanks to your efforts, Nick has stopped promoting and linking to AddictingGames.com, which contains numerous sexualized and graphically violent games, from all of its preschool websites.  Unfortunately, Nickelodeon continues to promote Addicting Games, which features games like Nancy Balls, Naughty Classroom, and Torture Chamber III, on many of its children's websites and its television network for kids. That's why we're asking you to keep the pressure on Nick.  You can learn more about what Nick is up to -- and what we see as the simple solution -- in Lechery, Misogyny, and Sadism...Oh My! on the CCFC blog.

CCFC's Enola G. Aird Launches Mothers for a Human Future

We are delighted to share with you that CCFC Steering Committee member Enola Aird has launched Mothers for a Human Future (http://www.mothersforahumanfuture.org), a place for commentary, discussion, and activism on staying human.  In a world overrun by "money world" values, Mothers for a Human Future strives to equip mothers to be effective leaders for "mother world" values. These are self-restraint, concern for the other, and stewardship -- values that are essential for the care and nurture of human beings. Mothers for a Human Future is building mothers' communities of resistance to the commercialization of childhood and the commodification of children, two powerful forces undermining our humanity.  Enola has also launched Mothers for a Human Future Radio -- mother-informed conversations about what it means to be human, the threats to our humanity, and what mothers can do to help us stay human.  You can listen to upcoming and archived broadcasts here, including last week's conversation with CCFC's Susan Linn.

CSPI Threatens to Sue McDonald's Over Happy Meals

It's been a rough year for the nation's preeminent peddler of fast food to children.  First, Corporate Accountability International called on advertising icon Ronald McDonald to retire.  Then Santa Clara County banned the sale of Happy Meals with toys.  Now, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has announced its intent to sue McDonald's if the company continues to use toys to promote Happy Meals.  Litigation is one way to help level the playing field between marketers and parents.

Sheila Nesbitt of Champlin, MN, a parent of a six-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl, said, "McDonald's makes my job as a parent more difficult.  I try my best to educate my kids about healthy eating but it's hard when I am competing against the allure of a new Shrek toy."

Added CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson, "Regardless of the nutritional quality of what's being sold, the practice of tempting kids with toys is inherently deceptive."  We couldn't agree more.  For more information, please visit http://www.cspinet.org.

Licensed Characters on Food Packaging Affect Kids' Taste Preferences, Snack Selections

A new study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity shows a causal relationship between licensed characters on junk food packaging and children's taste and snack preferences.  In the study, children between the ages of four and six years old tasted three pairs of identical foods (graham crackers, gummy fruit snacks and carrots) presented in packages either with or without a popular cartoon character.  Children were significantly more likely to chose -- and prefer the taste of -- the graham crackers and gummy fruit snacks when a licensed cartoon character appeared on the package.  Interestingly, the difference in preference was not significant for carrots.

The results suggest that advocates and policymakers who wish to improve children's diets should focus their efforts on restricting the use of licensed characters to promote junk food, rather than urging food and media companies to use the same characters to market healthier food.  For more information, please visit http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/.

The Centre for Child Honouring Launches Children & Nonviolence Initiative

Our friends at the Centre for Child Honouring have launched an important new initiative in response to the prevalence of violence against children worldwide.   The Centre was founded by Raffi Couvokian, beloved children's troubadour, activist, and recipient of CCFC's 2006 Fred Rogers Integrity Award.  The Children & Nonviolence Initiative provides a focal point for faith leaders to express their commitment to honoring the dignity of children. Citizens are invited to sign the Plea to Faith Leaders, and urge leaders of their respective religion or faith to sign the Proclamation in a show of unity.  The goal of the initiative is to spark a historic multi-faith decree upholding the sanctity of the child and urging an end to the elimination of physical, mental and emotional violence against children.  For more information, please visit www.childhonouring.org/plea.

CCFC Appreciation:  Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D.

After more than thirty years, June 30 is Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint's last day at Judge Baker Children's Center, where he was the Director of the Media Center. He is leaving in protest of the JBCC board's decision to expel CCFC in the wake of calls from the Walt Disney Company. He will continue as Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Alvin is one of the nation's pre-eminent child psychiatrists.  He is the co-author of the classic, Raising Black Children, and other books, was a consultant to the critically acclaimed Cosby Show in the 1980s, and is a pioneer in using media as a platform for advocacy.  It is impossible to overstate his impact on Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

CCFC began ten years ago this September when the Media Center gathered educators, parents, and health professionals together to protest The Golden Marble Awards -- the advertising industry's now defunct equivalent of the Oscars for marketing to children.  Alvin was no stranger to activism. He gave up a promising career in medical research to put his life on the line as a civil rights worker in Mississippi and has been an outspoken advocate for children, and against racism, as well as other forms of injustice, throughout his life. 

From the beginning, Alvin enthusiastically embraced and mentored CCFC's activism.  Over the years, he encouraged us to take on the largest corporations in the world to hold them accountable for harming children through exploitive marketing practices.  He has demonstrated the effectiveness of evidenced-based advocacy.  He has stood his ground with grace and dignity against the most powerful of forces and told the truth even in the face of threats and disparagement -- and at the expense of personal glory. 

We're grateful that Alvin will continue to work with CCFC in the role of Senior Advisor.  His ethics, values, and commitment to all children are at the core of our mission, and an important piece of the commercial-free childhood we're all striving for.