The Bishop of Birkenhead, Julie Conalty, is supporting pupils from Sandbach High School who are campaigning to prevent the sexualisation of school uniforms by the porn industry and well-known retailers.
Bishop Conalty became aware of their
petition to ban school uniforms in sex shops and pornography through social media. More than 15,000 people have signed, prompting a government response.
A teacher at the school, Sarah Maile, said:
Our older students mentioned
that once they'd moved into the sixth form, when they weren't wearing their school uniforms anymore . . . they were experiencing sexual harassment less.
The petition reads:
Ban school uniforms in
sex shops and pornography
We urge the Government to make it illegal for school uniforms to be displayed and sold within sex shops to stop the sexualisation of children. We also think it is vital for pornography to ban displaying
videos where school uniforms are worn as a costume.
It is disgusting that the sexualisation and fetishisation of children is apparently condoned by these establishments and companies. In the UK school uniforms are worn by most
students until the age of 16.
We believe their sale in sex shops and use as costumers in pornography is glamorising and normalising sexual acts with children. This is capitalising off of the sexual exploitation of children and
prioritising profit over the safety of millions of children. By allowing this to be legal it perpetuates a society in which people feel it is acceptable to sexualise children.
The government response notes:
The Government does not intend to take this specific action at this time but remains firmly committed to preventing the sexualisation of children through the robust measures that are already in place.
Government is committed to keeping children safe from all forms of abuse and already has a range of robust offences to protect children from sexual exploitation and exposure to harmful material.
Although currently the sale of
school uniform-like clothing does not fall within this bracket, there are a number of offences which can be considered to prosecute individuals involved in the advertisement for sale, distribution and/or importation of items such as child-like sex dolls.
The offences include: the Customs Consolidation Act 1876, which prohibits the importation of indecent and obscene material; the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which prohibits the publishing of an obscene article; the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981,
which prohibits the public display of indecent matter; and the Postal Services Act 2000, which prohibits the sending by post of indecent or obscene articles.
The Government encourages corporate responsibility from both
manufacturers and retailers with regard to sexualised merchandise. Local Authorities ultimately have responsibility to ensure that the advertisement and sale of items and products do not contravene any establishments trading legislation.
Parents and consumers share concerns about the commercialisation and sexualisation of children, including the sale of novelty clothing products aimed at the adult market. We recognise that this is a highly subjective issue, intimately
bound up with notions such as good and bad taste, personal preferences, and the ability to exercise choice. However, it is not for the UK Government to dictate the types of novelty clothing retailers can sell nor to comment on day-to-day commercial
decisions by companies.