Issues - sex - no limit for youth
Girls' teen glossies avoid age limits
Girls' glossy teen magazines will not
have to carry age-stamped restrictions on their front covers
despite a high-profile campaign led by teachers, the minister
for media and heritage, Lord McIntosh, has confirmed.
The move to have the mass-circulation publications regulated
was proposed by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
At its annual conference in April it backed a motion calling
for tougher regulation and urging parents to take a closer
interest in what their young daughters were reading in their
But the Periodical Publishers' Association (PPA) - which represents
the publishers of magazines such as Bliss, Sugar and Cosmo
Girl - said the content was responsibly scrutinised by the
Editorial policy is vetted through the Teenage Magazine Arbitration
Panel (TMAP), which deals with complaints and requires magazines
to adhere to a strict code of conduct. Lord McIntosh wrote
to the association this week to tell it of the government's
Ralph Surman, deputy head of Cantrell primary school in Nottingham
and an ATL executive member, told the conference he believed
that many magazines "glamorised promiscuity" with
lurid sexual content, while their editorial policy was harmful.
Mr Surman, a father of three, criticised editors and publishers
for targeting girls as young as 10 while publishing content
that was unsuitable for children under 14. Age restrictions
should be made clear on the covers, he said.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
said: "The government firmly believes that a press free
from state intervention is fundamental to democracy. We would
not therefore seek to interfere in any way in what a newspaper
or magazine chooses to publish or seek to restrict readership.
"When it comes to material aimed at children, the government
believes that is primarily something on which parents must
take a view for their own children. In doing this, they are
ably assisted by the work of the Teenage Magazine Arbitration
Clare Hoban, head of public and legal affairs at the PPA and
a member of the TMAP, said: "PPA is delighted that the
government formally recognises not only the importance of
a free and democratic press but the effective self-regulatory
mechanisms already in place to ensure high standards in content.
"The Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel is a vital cog
in this self-regulatory wheel. It recognises that magazines
play a crucial role in educating and empowering young women
to enable them to make responsible choices about their sexual
"Together with the teen magazine industry it will continue
to ensure that young readers receive accurate, honest and
appropriate information in response to the hundreds of requests
for help and advice that they receive each week from readers
negotiating their way through the emotional minefield of adolescence
and sexual development."
But Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, commented:
"We are disappointed that the [government] has decided
not to act at this time but we will continue to press our
views. We are confident that we can work with the magazine
publishers to address this issue."