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Teachers warn of 'brand bullying' (UK)

 

The Press Association

August 11, 2008

 

 

Children who cannot afford the latest brands and fashions face bullying or exclusion by their peers, teachers warned.

A desire to "fit in" plays a huge role in the products children want to own, a poll by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found.

Almost half of the teachers questioned (46%) said young people who cannot afford the fashionable items owned by their friends have been excluded, isolated or bullied as a result.

Andy Cranham, a teacher at City of Bristol College said: "The need to belong in groups is paramount to young learners and exclusion is something they see as the end of the world."

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary said: "Bullying of this kind can be quite insidious, it can just be a look that a child is given. Children feel under immense pressure to look right and having the key brands is part of that."

But Emma-Jane Cross, chief executive of Beatbullying said she was a "little surprised" that only half of teachers had seen such bullying.

She said: "Young people are image conscious, and a lot of bullying is based on appearance. Targeting others for not having the "right" look, accessory or brand is unfortunately all too common, but it is precisely the sort of behaviour Beatbullying can help change."

The poll found more than eight in 10 teachers (85%) believe possession of fashionable goods is important to their pupils, with 93% saying brands are the top influence on what children buy, followed by friends (91%) and logos (77%).

And the influence of advertising and marketing is much more significant now, with more than 70% of teachers saying it has increased from 10 years ago. And almost all (98%) believe advertising directly targets children and young people.

Dr Bousted added: "Advertising and marketing have made our society increasingly image-conscious and our children are suffering the consequences. Schools and colleges should be places where all children feel equal, but it is virtually impossible for schools to protect their pupils from the harsher aspects of these commercial influences."

 

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