Padded bra row puts spotlight on thousands of children's goods

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SEVERAL high street stores pledged yesterday to review their product lines after being accused of stocking clothes that sexualise children.

The promise came after Primark withdrew padded bikini tops for young girls earlier this week after the chain was accused of selling products deemed too adult for children.

It emerged yesterday that several other stores including Next, Tammy, Tesco and Peacocks were selling similar items and that Primark was also stocking underwear aimed at young girls bearing the slogan "You've scored".

Simon Wolfson, Next chief executive, said: "We will look into the issue. If anything needs changing, we will do it immediately."

Peacocks pledged similar action, with its boss Richard Kirk saying: "We have started checking every product to make sure everything is appropriate."

Tesco, Tammy and Primark also said products would be reviewed.

On Wednesday, Primark was forced to act after calls for a boycott of its stores by an organisation that helps child victims of abuse and following criticism from Conservative leader David Cameron.

Child protection consultant Shy Keenan, of The Phoenix Chief Advocates, which called for the boycott, welcomed the chain's decision to remove the padded bikini tops.

Mr Cameron, who branded the sale "disgraceful" in an interview with BBC London Radio, said he was "delighted" the bikini top had been withdrawn.

He said: "I am delighted they have taken the decision to withdraw this as we need a more responsible society and that means not just the government playing its role but, as I said at the launch of my manifesto, all of us recognising we are in this together.

"Parents want to protect their children from the commercialisation and sexualisation that can take place in our society.

"Businesses have got to think of their responsibilities. I'm glad Primark has done this."

Other businesses have recently faced criticism for selling children's products deemed too adult. Asda was criticised for selling lace lingerie, including a push-up bra aimed at young girls, and Tesco withdrew a pole-dancing kit from its toys section.

Kim Eason , head of fashion and textiles at the Gray's School of Art at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, said: "I think the fashion industry has to play its role in being responsible for the impact such trends could have on young children.

"There is less of an innocence attached to young girls now. In the past, items such as Perspex high heels were seen as "dressing-up" play-oriented items and that was the reason for having them.

"Looking back even a few years ago at the Spice Girls and the way they dressed, it all seemed incredibly innocent. But now, girls are looking at the Pussycat Dolls which is something really quite different. The age of innocence has gone but I hope it will come back."