Research-Live today reports that there is a new collaboration in the UK between advertisers, marketers, and market researchers to draw up a code of conduct for marketing to children - a response to the Government threatening a 'crackdown' on irresponsible activities.
However, I believe that the new plans and the new MRS proposed code of conduct do not go far enough. Here is a copy of the comments I have added to the Research-Live article.
"Speaking as a parent I find the proposed/draft MRS code much too soft, too much in favour of clients and too little in favour of families or specifically children.
Amongst my beefs are:
a) it permits research in school. This is not why we send our children to school. The rules say parental permission 'may' be asked, but teacher or head is allowed. No way! (I am happy for some social research to be conducted in schools, but not commercial research).
b) it allows a researcher who discovers a child in harm (for example being molested) to report it under some circumstances. No way! It should be a duty to ensure that either the police or social services are alerted, not an option that the researcher may choose if they wish.
c) I believe that any research that facilitates the marketing of products at children should be ruled by the code as unethical. Do we really want MR to be associated with trying to get children to eat more junk, drink more junk, or to pester parents into buying things that might not be affordable?
Let us hope that it will not be too much longer before the government bans the marketing of products at children altogether, but until then we should recognise that helping this kind of marketing is not ethical. I think we need to think like parents, not like businesspeople on this occasion."
What do you think?