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Press Release: Halloween consumer culture may be damaging to children's well-being

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Increased spending and pursuit of materialism could be detrimental to children’s emotional well-being, Christian charity Scripture Union warns.

The challenge, confirmed by many recent academic studies, comes alongside a call to churches to do more to promote a healthier counter-cultural view, especially at times such as Halloween.

Recent studies show that not only is materialism negatively associated with happiness but also with self-esteem, good relationships and well-being. In a recent article, Carolyn Gregoire suggests, “Those who pursue wealth and material possessions tend to be less satisfied and experience fewer positive emotions each day.”

Similarly, a study by Knox College psychology professor, Tim Kasser found that when teenagers became less materialistic, their emotional well-being and self-esteem improved.

As annual festivals such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween become increasingly focused on materialistic spend, Scripture Union are concerned for the potential negative impact on the well-being of children and young people. The latest figures show that Halloween has become the third biggest 'event' for retailers behind Christmas and Easter, with Britons estimated to have spent a staggering £320 million on related items in 2017 (Mintel, 2017).

The run-up to October 31st provides the perfect opportunity for churches to promote a more positive counter-cultural message, Scripture Union suggests, and for the past four years they have produced a free resource pack to inspire and equip churches and community groups. The Light Party Pack enables churches to host a Light Party at Halloween that introduces children to the real hope found in Jesus rather than a shortlived hope in materialistic things.

In 2017, over 8,000 Light Party Packs were distributed and it is thought more than 23,000 children across the country attended a Light Party. This year, Scripture Union have also received the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury for their Light Party Pack and what it hopes to achieve:

“I know there are great ways of engaging and enacting faith with the great themes of the season. But having an alternative, a more exciting celebration, is a real gift to parents and children alike. It’s why I’m keen to see Light Parties hosted in churches in and for the community. Because being salt and light is about what we say ‘Yes’ to, before it’s about what we say ‘No’ to. And we say ‘Yes to light and love, and life and joy. This material is imaginative, creative, straightforward and all about Jesus.”

Tim Hastie-Smith, National Director for Scripture Union England & Wales says something needs to change...

“Halloween is a great opportunity to provide children with real hope. When most of society is focusing on the merchandising of the season, Light parties promote light and love and show that there’s more to life than things. Our prayer is that children and families can come together to hear and respond to this message of hope.”

This year’s Light Party Pack places even greater emphasis on encouraging churches to share the gospel with the children in their wider community – bringing its message of hope to where it’s most needed. Alongside lots of ideas for games, crafts, activities and Bible teaching, the pack also features articles written by children and youth work experts with lots of practical tips and advice on reaching out beyond the church.

The free Light Party pack can be ordered at www.lightparty.org.uk or by calling 01908 856000.

ENDS

Notes to editors

References:
Gregoire, C. (2017, December 6). The psychology of materialism, and why it’s making you unhappy. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/psychology-materialism_n_4425982

Kasser, T., Rosenblum, K.L., Sameroff, A.J. et al. Motiv Emot (2014) 38: 1. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-013-9371-4

For the full Mintel report on Halloween spending visit: http://www.mintel.com/blog/retailmarket-news/halloween-spending-in-the-uk-set-to-reach-320-million

About Scripture Union

Scripture Union is a Christian charity, inviting children and young people to explore the difference Jesus can make to the challenges and adventures of life. Through a wide range of activities and initiatives, we provide opportunities for young people to explore the Bible, respond to Jesus and grow in faith. With 95% of children and young in people in England and Wales not in church, our focus and priority is on ensuring they get the chance to hear the good news of Jesus, wherever they are. Through The 95 Campaign, we encourage and equip churches and individuals to step out into their communities to share the good news with the next generation in culturally relevant ways. www.the95.org.uk

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