The following is a letter to Silver River from Unite/CPHVE (Community Practitioner and Health Visitors Association. I (Clive Dorman) am a member of their Interest Group for Parenting and Family Support, and have been given permission to publish the letter on this blog. They too received a similar dismissive response to the one I did.
6th July 2007
Silver River Productions
4th Floor, Brook House
2 – 16 Torrington Place
London WC1E 7HN
The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association is very concerned at the proposed making of the documentary film ‘Bringing Up Baby’. Although the programme purports to be a serious documentary it appears that important ethical issues may have been overlooked.
We are concerned about babies being used in an experimental way by your production team. Babies cannot give consent but parents can and do on their behalf. Have they been allowed to give ‘informed consent’? Have the parents been warned of the possible damage to their babies by the use of methods such as those introduced by Truby King? His methods may have gone ‘out of fashion’ but there are reasons why.
Science has progressed. We now have the opportunity to investigate baby brains and to see the physiological effects of attending to babies or not.
As science has progressed we are now more able to see the damage caused to baby brains by parental failure to respond to the baby needs. I would ask you to read a book called ‘Why Love Matters’ by Sue Gerhardt or ‘The Science of Parenting’ Margot Sunderland, to help you to understand how crucial it is for babies to be responded to in a sensitive way so that their needs are met and they can form a secure attachment with their parents. This is the foundation for their sense of security and the ability to empathise with others. Babies who are responded to when necessary grow up secure in relationships and do well in their learning. For others who are not the opposite is true.
We would ask you to reconsider your programme in the light of new knowledge. This is a child protection issue. The programme may also be breaching the Unicef United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child particularly in relation to Articles 3 and 19.
Babies should not be used as subjects of experiments to see what methods are ‘best’. We already know this from science and the studying of cared for and neglected baby brains.
We trust that you will take the appropriate action.
on behalf of the Interest Group for Parenting and Family Support
33-37 Moreland St
Tel 020 7780 4081 (d.l.)
Fax 020 7780 4142
cc. Hamish Mykura
cc. Al Ainsley Green
Hamish Mykura is Head of History, Science & Religion at Channel Four
Al Ainsley Green is the first appointed Children's Commissioner for England