Page last updated at 23:41 GMT, Sunday, 10 August 2008 00:41 UK

Children 'bullied over brands'

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Children who cannot afford or do not want to buy fashionable brands face mockery and bullying, says research from a teachers' union.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers said children were under "huge pressure" to buy brands.

The teachers' survey claims children are strongly aware of brands and logos, but pay little attention to the green or ethical values of products.

Brands are more influential to children than their own friends, the study says.

The study from the ATL teachers' union warns that children are under excessive commercial pressure to be seen buying and wearing fashionable brands.

Bullied

The union's general secretary, Mary Bousted, says that "children are suffering the consequences" from advertising that targets youngsters.

"It is incredibly sad to hear how many youngsters are bullied or isolated for not having the same clothes or accessories as their classmates," said Dr Bousted.

A survey examined the experiences of 380 teachers in how brand-awareness was experienced by children in the playground.

"A lot of advertising companies blatantly target children without any consideration for the parents of those children," said Ann Seddon from Manor Field Infant school in Hampshire.

"They need to be up-to-date, otherwise they get left out and have low self-esteem," says Sheila Bell, a teacher from Cumbria included in the survey.

"It is often the children who you would expect to have least, such as a family on benefits, who have all the branded stuff and tease others," said Tamsin Buckingham who teaches in a secondary school in Surrey.

Teachers overwhelmingly felt that advertising was deliberately targeting young people and that brands were of paramount importance.

Brands were identified by teachers as the biggest single influence on what children wanted to buy - followed by the choices made by friends. Green issues and any ethical stance was considered unlikely to have much influence.

Fewer than 5% of teachers believed that brands were unimportant to children - and 46% had witnessed bullying or name-calling of children who did not have the desirable brands.

"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," said Dr Bousted.

Dr Bousted also raised particular concerns about the commercialisation of schools.

"We are worried these pressures will further intensify as schools and colleges look for more help from commercial sponsors to provide IT, sports and science equipment, teaching materials and food."




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