Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (Article)


Submitted by John Surr, Bethesda, MD

P.E.A.C.E. is a long-time member of a national coalition of educators, health care professionals, advocacy groups and parents who make up the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC).  CCFC is devoted to limiting the impact of commercial culture on children. P.E.A.C.E. encourages all of our members to support this vital organization.

This January of 2010, Judge Baker Children’s Center, a Harvard-affiliated children’s mental health center, suddenly dumped CCFC as one of its sponsored programs.  CCFC was ousted after calls to JBCC from Disney following a front page story in the New York Times about how CCFC forced Disney to offer refunds on Baby Einstein Videos.  The Times called it a “tacit acknowledgement” that the videos were not educational.  CCFC, which was founded with the help of P.E.A.C.E.’s Diane Levin and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, had established an admirable track record in getting powerful corporations to draw back from their uses of sex, violence, and greed in screen programming and other marketing practices aimed at children too young to understand that they were being exploited.  CCFC has motivated P.E.A.C.E. members, through to encourage corporations to revise their marketing and programming practices and products so that they are appropriate for children and families. After an outpouring of support, CCFC set up its own offices in Boston’s Non-Profit Center for its Director, Susan Linn and its Associate Director, Josh Golin, and other staff.  Without infrastructure/administrative support from JBCC, CCFC needs our donations.

Grass has not been allowed to grow under CCFC’s feet.  In June, CCFC gained national prominence once again when it gave its “Worst Toy of the Year” award to Nickelodeon, for the violent and sexualized games on its “” website, which was being promoted to very young children.  Soon thereafter, the children’s shoe brand Skechers got CCFC’s attention for sponsoring a TV show on Nickelodeon that featured a character based on its products.  CCFC next jumped into the fray with a number of other organizations to protect teen-agers’ privacy on the Web, through mobile phones, etc.  Shortly after that campaign, Director Susan Linn was the lead author of a letter to NAEYC advising it on the development of its position statement on technology.  The letter, which was signed by a number of leading academic experts on early childhood education and care, emphasized that all forms of screen technology should be covered by the NAEYC policy, and that it should take into account many diverse factors in addition to young children’s cognitive development.  Next CCFC targeted the cash-strapped school districts around the country that are seeking to sell advertising that would find a compulsory audience in their schools.  CCFC, long a leader in the struggle to stop the film industry from promoting violent PG-13 movies to preschoolers, launched an email campaign to children’s television stations urging them to stop advertising toys and fast food promotions linked to violent films between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.   In August, CCFC began another campaign to stop McDonald’s from marketing toys that promote violence in their “Happy Meal” giveaways, as well as one to stop supermarkets placing television sets on grocery shelves next to the products they are advertising.  In addition to its campaigns, CCFC has a blog with the latest news about the commercialization of childhood.

You can help CCFC by donating.  Please go to the CCFC website, and click on “Contribute.”  You can also join CCFC campaigns such as those mentioned above if you join Act4PEACE, our list serve for people who like to be alerted to opportunities for action that will help the children we care for grow in a more healthy way in a more just and peaceful world.  You can join Act4PEACE by sending an e-mail with that request to

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