The Children's Advertising Review Unit® (CARU®) was founded in 1974 to promote responsible children's advertising as part of a strategic alliance with the major advertising trade associations and the CBBB. CARU is the children's arm of the advertising industry's self-regulation system and evaluates child-directed advertising and promotional material in all media to advance truthfulness, accuracy and consistency with its Self-Regulatory Program for Children's Advertising and relevant laws.
CARU's basic activities are the review and evaluation of child-directed advertising in all media, and online privacy practices as they affect children. When these are found to be misleading, inaccurate, or inconsistent with CARU's Self-Regulatory Program for Children's Advertising, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of advertisers.
As an extension of its initial mission, to help advertisers deal sensitively with the child audience in a responsible manner, in 1996 CARU added a section to its Guidelines that highlight issues, including children's privacy, that are unique to the Internet and online sites directed at children age 12 and under. CARU has established a Safe Harbor Program for its supporters to help them protect the privacy of children online, and meet the requirements of COPPA and its Guidelines.
CARU's Self-Regulatory Guidelines are deliberately subjective, going beyond the issues of truthfulness and accuracy to take into account the uniquely impressionable and vulnerable child audience.*CARU recognizes that the special nature and needs of a child audience require particular care and diligence on the part of advertisers. Consequently, CARU performs a high level of monitoring, including the scrutinizing of over ten thousand television commercials, and the review of advertisements in print, radio and online media.