Saturday, 27 October 2007
1 London Bridge
26th October 2007
Dear Professor Aynsley Green
PROTECTION OF INFANTS NOT APPEARING AS ACTORS ON TELEVISION
The screening of Bringing Up Baby by Channel 4 has raised some fundamental issues about how we as a society set about protecting infants from harm, and indeed, our willingness to be participants in the process.
Some years ago I attended a meeting at Portcullis House at which Peter Clarke the new Welsh Children’s Commissioner spoke. At the time the consensus in Government was that a Children’s Commissioner for England was unnecessary as there already existed a department and a Minister for Children. It is interesting to note one argument at the time - that the appointment of a Children's Commissioner for England would simply add an additional layer of bureaucracy without any real power.
How ironic that the welfare of infants - those most vulnerable in our society, yet too young to be called children - would appear to be outside the jurisdiction of the very person appointed to protect them. I can think of no more urgent issue to be placed at the top of (what must be) an already busy agenda than that of dangerously misguided practices being promoted as both safe and desirable in a television programme. And in complete contradiction of all current government guidelines and those of others such as Unicef, United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child and WHO.
Along with my colleagues who are concerned with the emotional wellbeing of infants, and therefore the future wellbeing of our society, I am astonished at the lack of any response from yourself about this fundamentally important issue – that of protecting infants. One that we all assumed you had been appointed to oversee and enable.
I would like to draw your attention to the statement about your appointment on the Every Child Matters website, from which I quote... "As part of his broad remit and function, the Commissioner works within the framework of the five Every Child Matters outcomes. These outcomes complement the rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the Commissioner must have regard. As the Commissioner is independent of government, he will decide what issues he will focus on as he discharges his duties." I suspect that within the last sentence lies the key. I do urge you to think about the importance of good beginnings for infants and the impact of this on future outcomes.
It is one thing to offer an ear to children suffering as a result of bad experiences when they are able to communicate this, but what of the youngest children for whom speech remains in the future, yet have the same emotions? Do they not deserve special protection from harm when it is highlighted and brought to your attention by those who understand?
We are happy to assist in any way we can.
With best wishes
Director and Co-founder
The Children’s Project Ltd
Sign the petition at 10 Downing Street here
Statements and information here
Encl. Statement for The Children’s Project re: Bringing Up Baby here
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Protecting Community Health Services
18th October 2007.
UNITE/CPHVA STATEMENT ON CONTROVERSIAL BABY TV ‘REALITY’ SHOWS
Health visitors feel that they must strongly protest about one of the mentors on Channel 4’s programme ‘Bringing up Baby’. Claire Verity calls herself a Maternity Nurse and boasts that she is paid £1,000 a day to get babies into a routine. The Nursing and Midwifery Council in a press release in response to the programme stated:
“Made-up titles like ‘maternity nurse’ are deceptive as they imply the person has earned qualifications that they do not have. This only serves to confuse the public and could prove damaging to the high level of trust that people have for genuine nurses and midwives”
Were Claire Verity an NMC registrant she could be facing professional misconduct charges.
Her advice to new mothers is not evidence based and runs directly contrary to the guidelines produced by the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths on reducing the risk of cot death. She is clearly unaware of the effect of ignoring babies on their brain development and the subsequent potential long term damage to their ability to form trusting relationships and enjoy good emotional health.
The latest programme in the series from Channel 4 once again calls into question the ethics of making such a programme. Voluntary codes of ethics are clearly not working. What is needed is an independently appointed ethics committee made up of informed professionals. Potential producers of programmes involving the filming of 0-17 year olds should be required to bring their plans for approval and to demonstrate that they will do no harm. Such a group could be appointed by OFCOM or the UK Children’s Commissioners and should include a child psychologist, child psychotherapist, child psychiatrist, paediatrician, social worker, health visitor, midwife, parent representatives and the NSPCC.
What we have seen on our screens promotes child care practice which research has demonstrated puts babies’ physical and emotional health at risk. Such practice should not be promoted to the general public and undermine the work of many professionals involved in the care of mothers and babies or current Department of Health guidance. Babies’ cannot give their permission to take part in such programmes and indeed it is unlikely that their parents fully understand the implications of taking part. Babies rely on their parents and society to protect them. There seems to be no protection from the makers of reality TV programmes. Unite/CPHVA raised their concerns to the producers early in the production process.
Unite/CPHVA would like to see the Children's Commissioners’ offices in the four countries in the UK putting their influence behind the establishment of a new ethical panel to regulate the involvement of children in reality TV programmes and has raised this with the English Commissioner
UNITE/CPHVA Professional Team
For further information, please ring:
Maggie Fisher 07918 608115 (Blackberry)
Cheryll Adams, Lead Professional Officer, Unite Health 07712 678 281 (mobile)
Shaun Noble Communications Officer 020 7780 4080 (direct line)
07768 693 940 (mobile)
Unite/CPHVA press releases can be seen on the CPHVA website: www.amicus-cphva.org
Unite (Amicus section) is the third largest union in the NHS. It has seven professional sections: the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, the Mental Health Nurses Association, the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, the Society of Sexual Health Advisers, the Medical Practitioners’ Union, College of Healthcare Chaplains, and the Hospital Physicists Association.
Unite was formed by an amalgamation of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers’ Union in May 2007.
1 London Bridge
16 October 2007
Dear Professor Aynsley Green
Re: Bringing up Baby and the use of infants in ‘reality Television’
I am writing as Chair of the Association for Infant Mental Health (UK) to express the Committee’s heartfelt dismay at the lack of comment from your office in respect of the recent TV series Bringing up Baby, which followed hot on the heels of the BBC’s Baby Borrowers..
This programme employed (and, therefore, promoted to parents) a range of techniques. Some of these were outdated, such as leaving a baby to cry for lengthy periods in order to manage crying. Others had never previously been recommended by anyone and so can only be described as wholly experimental. Examples of these included deliberately avoiding eye contact with a baby and, most recently, witholding three quarters of new (and premature) twins' bottles at one feed in order to make them so hungry that they would take more at the next (and sleep longer).
In using these techniques the film makers seem to have completely disregarded current knowledge on brain development and how this can be adversely affected by the stress and trauma a baby experiences. We can only assume that those involved in making the programmes either did not know of this research (which in itself is worrying) or they chose to ignore it to make “good viewing” and boost their ratings.
To date there has been a lot of publicity about the programmes in this series. During the week following the first broadcast of Bringing up Baby OfCom received well over 200 complaints from the general public. The press has run extensive coverage and there is now a Downing Street petition with 2740 signatures (to date) calling for the greater regulation of programmes such as this.
In this context it is concerning that there has been no comment from you or a representative of your office. Your new website, 11 million, makes a great deal about giving children a voice. Sadly the babies being exploited, and put at risk, by this and other similar TV programmes are unable to email their views and make their voices heard. But it would be good to think that you could lead the way in the drive to afford
them better protection from this kind of sensational and exploitative television.
With best wishes
Dr Shirley Gracias MBChB DCH MRCPsych
Consultant in Infant Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Chair of AIMH (UK)
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Or cut and paste the URL and send to everyone
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
These are notes from, and my comments about the programme. Whilst I have endeavoured to comment accurately, I cannot say the transcript is 100% accurate in every word, though the essence remains.
10 - 12 weeks
Very few surprises this week from our perspective. Not as overtly offensive as previous weeks, due mainly to the fact Claire Verity wasn't hands on with the babies. However, my worst fears have been confirmed. With an air of triumphalism the commentary repeatedly made reference to babies sleeping through the night at an unnaturally young age, with no reference to any research and reasons behind why this might be. The clear implication is that the routine method is by far the best. A glossy promotion of neglect as a method to produce subdued babies, which is then presented as a the most successful method.
This has been my worst fear, and one that I have presented to Silver River and Channel 4 for many months. Silver River, "I appreciate your concerns but hope that when you see the series, you will be satisfied that your fears were unfounded." Channel 4 "I appreciate your interest in this series and hope that when you have seen it, your fears will be allayed."
Possibly the most outrageous part of this series is that there is no point. The programme, with it's complete lack of any reference to research or understanding simply ends. Just a voice over to confirm it is the end and cue credits. In my view, completely indefensible.
This week is concerned with 'getting your life back'. A social life, a sex life.
Voice Over (VO) Already the routine babies are sleeping 11pm - 7am leaving their parents the most refreshed. But this is not enough for Claire Verity - 7 - 7. She wants to introduce solids.
(Reference to allergy risk, wait til 6 months)
CS (continuum mentor) ...from birth you feed from whenever the baby cues that it needs feeding and for at least the first six month all the baby gets is breast milk and then at about...
CV (incredulous) The first six months?
CS In fact that is what the WHO suggests
CV Well, I don't really care what they say. I've dealt with hundreds of babies and I know at 4 months they need something other than milk.
CS At 4 months?
CV I wean babies at 16 weeks or 16 lbs
CS I totally refute that
DH (Spock mentor) I have to say Claire I think it depends on the baby,
CV But at the end of the day my babies at 12 wks are going 7 -7 are yours?
VO Some people criticise the 50s routine, saying it works for parents but might not work for baby.
This isn't an area of expertise for me, but it was covered in the context of the 3 routines. I did notice during the interviews that babies were not relaxed (lights camera etc). One dad holding his baby, who was fussing and unsettled. When dad looked at his baby, he settled. When eye contact was lost, the baby became unsettled again.
Twins parents having a party
VO One of the main reasons the routine method became so popular in the 1950s is that promised couples who couldn't afford nannies precious time to themselves.
Mum: nothing will get them out of their routine. It's just amazing. I just don't know what I would have done without the routine.
CV At the end of the day the routine is all about getting the baby to fit in with your way of life. And if you want to have a party, great have a party. Those babies won't wake up, they'll be fed and put into bed at 7 o clock as normal and you can party all night. So it's all very much about the baby fitting into your way of life. Don't let it stop you having fun.
VO 1950s is the passport to serious partying.
Mum: I can't believe that I've got 2 babies upstairs, 30 people inside and I'm enjoying myself it's fantastic, I've got my life back - a different life, but I got my life back.
Continuum mum: I got pregnant for a reason because I wanted to have a child so the last thing I want to do is put it in another room as some sort of punishment for being alive
Twins (Truby King)
Mum: They say moving is one of the most stressful things you can do, but I think we may be able pull it off especially as the babies are in a very good routine.
VO (sister) takes them on ahead while parents stay behind to pack.
Mum: It's just important that she keeps them in the routine that we've been working so hard on these last 10 weeks.
VO trouble is, (sister) isn't a big fan of schedules for babies.
Sister: I still don't agree totally with routines but I agree with it because it's working for (mum) and it's important for me to stick to it.
CV If you choose to move home with one baby two babies even three babies, as long as you stick to that routine 100% you will not have a problem. Don't kid yourselves, if you just sidetrack slightly it won't work. 100%, and 100% only.
VO Under the routine its essential that the babies are fed every 4 hours without even a few minutes delay.
But with Leamington Spa a 3 hour drive away SIS needs to get going if she is arrive on time for the next feed.
VO If (sister) was sticking to the routine she would be pulling over now (10.50) and giving them their 11 am feed. But they're asleep and she decides to carry on to her destination.
Sister: We are I would say about 40 minutes away from home... so we're going to be late.
In house, both twins hysterical
VO Following a routine is all or nothing and breaking it has dire consequences as sis is discovering.
Sister: It's 20 to 12 and they're used to being fed at 11. We'll get back on track at three, yes, I'm sorry.
During the ad break is an NSPCC ad - 'be the click', about ending child abuse. Seemed somewhat incongruous.
The families meet up for the first time.
VO 3 months evidence for and against - which one has come out on top
The 1950s routine families had the toughest time at the beginning. Taking on the harshest method when it came to emotional attachment.
But the first to have babies sleeping through the night was the routine method. (Mum) was able to go back to work. They had a sex life and social lives.
Other mum: So you'd recommend it
Dad: You only have to go through the first 2 months from when the baby's born.
And so the programme ended. No conclusion, other than stating
VO Our experiment is over. We've seen that each method has its pros and cons so it's not possible to pick an outright winner. All our couples are firmly convinced that they chose the best methods. Perhaps in the end all you can do is pick the one that's best suited to you. The one that you think is best for Bringing Up Baby.
As a group of academics and professionals we are alarmed that Channel 4 is broadcasting such an exploitative parenting series as Bringing Up Baby the last part of which is to be shown tomorrow.Many techniques used in these programmes are outdated and completely fly in the face of our scientific knowledge about brain development in very young babies.
That anyone should be billed as an expert and allowed to promote ideas such as not making eye contact with babies and not comforting them when they are in distress is at best irresponsible and at worst dangerous. And to see these theories being put into practice with real babies in the name of entertainment is deeply worrying.
Last year, the Family and Parenting Institute surveyed parents to ask them their opinions on TV parenting programmes and some 83% of the respondents said that they found a technique in these programmes helpful to them. So with these programmes having such an influence on parents it is shocking that broadcasters are not exercising more responsibility.
Sadly the exploitation of both babies and children in the pursuit of high ratings is becoming ever more common: the BBC3 programme Baby Borrowers earlier this year was another case in point where babies and young children were "lent" to teenage couples in a programme that was intended to bring in viewers by being shocking.
We call on all production companies to stop making television programmes which give parents irresponsible advice and turn the suffering of tiny babies and children into adult entertainment.
Chief Executive, Family and Parenting Institute
Director, One plus One
Chief Executive, Parentline Plus
Dr Shirley Gracias,
Chair, The Association for Infant Mental Health UK
Dr Cheryll Adams,
Acting Lead Professional Officer, Unite-Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association
Chair of Health Visiting Forum,Unite-Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association
Stephen Scott BSc FRCP FRCPsych,
Professor of Child Health & Behaviour, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Kings College,London
Chief Executive, Family Welfare Association
Knowle Clinic,Broadfield Road,Bristol,BS4 2UH
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«Back to Bringing Up Baby on our website to view all statements
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Bringing Up Baby - Channel 4
For 50 years La Leche League has been supporting breastfeeding mothers around the world, giving women the accurate information they need to make informed choices on caring for their babies. La Leche League GB are concerned that the parents in the "Bringing Up Baby" programme on Channel 4 are being misinformed.
To say that there is no difference between breast and formula milk is patently untrue. It goes against all the available evidence, the experience of millions of mothers, and contradicts the guidance on infant feeding given by both the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health. Misleading parents in this way could have serious health implications for mothers and children.
Young babies have a biological need for frequent feedings and tactile stimulation. Imposing a four-hourly feeding schedule on young babies, and leaving them alone for long stretches of time, is contrary to both recent research and most parents' natural instinct, which is to hold their babies close to feed, love and comfort.
A baby's crying is not manipulation but a way of alerting parents to respond to his/her needs. Leaving a baby to cry can increase the risk of a brain bleed. It can also increase the levels of stress hormones, which can, in turn, affect stress patterns for life.
La Leche League believes babies and mothers need each other and become distressed if they are separated, as on this programme. To use babies in this way as part of an experiment, and for entertainment purposes, is, we believe, completely unacceptable.
Anna Burbidge, Chair of Council of Directors,
On behalf of La Leche League of GB
Friday, 12 October 2007
Thank you for your recent emails regarding the 'Bringing Up Baby' television programme.
Having reviewed the programmes that have been screened to date, the NSPCC believes that they are publicising outdated and potentially harmful methods of baby care and we are calling on TV executives to be more careful when making such programmes.
The programme has provoked one of the highest levels of inquiries to the NSPCC in recent years, with more than 60 messages from viewers expressing their concerns at some of the methods it promotes.
One method tested in the programme relies on what the NSPCC considers as strict, inflexible routines which deny eye contact between parent and baby during feeding, promote limited cuddling and leave infants to cry alone for long periods. These rigid routines appeared to leave some babies and parents taking part in the programme in distress.
Our parenting advisor, Eileen Hayes has said that: "Suggesting that a small baby could be 'manipulative' is discredited and can lead to potentially damaging patterns of care. Similarly leaving babies to cry for long periods is stressful and research suggests it may be damaging. Strict authoritarian routines pay little attention to parents' natural instincts about their infants or the wealth of research that has shown the importance of early sensitive care for health and well-being. It's the most natural thing in the world for a mother to want to cuddle and make eye contact with her newborn - and babies love it as well.
"Babies are born with a social instinct and communicate through touch, sound, eye contact and facial expressions. This sensitive communication plays a vital role in attachment, and ensuring that infants develop a sense of trust and security, which gives a firm foundation for their growing sense of identity and self-esteem.
"The first weeks after birth are a crucial period when parents and babies get to know one other. It can be a very challenging time when vulnerable parents are particularly anxious to get advice about the best way to care for their baby. Programme-makers must recognise that some viewers may consider what they see as an approved method. They have a responsibility to tell viewers when methods are widely disputed by health professionals and academics."
Once we have viewed the final programme, we will decide what further action we will take. Eileen sends her best wishes - she is out at a conference today so I am replying to you on both our behalves.
With best wishes
Christopher Cloke, Head of Child Protection Awareness and Diversity, NSPCC
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Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Having expressed my concerns for the wellbeing of infants and their parents above, I now have serious concerns with issues of child protection, child abuse, and child neglect being implemented by mentor Claire Verity. A specific complaint is about the long-term damage to how the brain becomes 'wired', caused by Claire Verity's insistence that the infants' most basic needs, that of food, nurture and care are limited, simply to ensure a good nights sleep.
Your code is sadly lacking in its ability to protect very young babies who appear in factual and reality programmes.
Section 1 - protecting the Under-Eighteens is mostly concerned with protection from what might be viewed. There is little to protect participants.
'The involvement of people under eighteen in programmes',
1.26 Due care must be taken over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of people under eighteen who take part or are otherwise involved in programmes. This is irrespective of any consent given by the participant or by a parent, guardian or other person over the age of eighteen in loco parentis.
1.27 People under eighteen must not be caused unnecessary distress or anxiety by their involvement in programmes or by the broadcast of those programmes.
These clauses go some way in offering protection for these babies, but I suspect the context in which they appear with 1.28 will make it difficult to apply to my complaint. Your guidance notes Issue 4: 20 March 2007 have NO ADVICE under the heading Rule 1.26 to 1.28, other than a reference to Research: Consenting children: the use of children in non-fiction television programmes (2001) BSC; Consenting adults (2000) BSC
To ensure that generally accepted standards are applied to the content of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material.
2.2 'Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience'
I suggest Bringing Up Baby breaches clause 2.2, particularly in the context of paragraphs 2 and 4 of your guidance notes, Issue 7, 2 August 2007.
Paragraph 2 reads
Nevertheless, Ofcom is required to guard against harmful or offensive material, and it is possible that actual or potential harm and / or offence may be the result of misleading material in relation to the representation of factual issues. This rule is therefore designed to deal with content which materially misleads the audience so as to cause harm or offence.
Paragraph 4 reads
Whether a programme or item is "materially" misleading depends on a number of factors such as the context, the editorial approach taken in the programme, the nature of the misleading material and above all what the potential effect could be or actual harm or offence that has occurred.
Each of the 3 episodes of Bringing Up Baby clearly breach section 2 of your code.
Channel 4 and Silver River Productions' have set out to deceive the public. They claim to have consulted widely with paediatricians, psychologists and others, and have written to reassure myself and others: "I would like to reassure you once again that we take the welfare of children in this series, as with all programmes, very seriously. Bringing Up Baby is a thoughtful and responsible observation of different methods of childcare. " This is not the case and is deliberately misleading. Both companies have not responded to my requests for details of who their advisors are.
There follows a transcript of some of Part 3, broadcast 9th October, annotated by myself:
(Note. The transcript follows on this blog, so I've not repeated it here)
Topic, crying and colic
This week portrayed scenes of an abusive and neglectful nature that were difficult to view. There is so much wrong with this series it is almost pointless highlighting specifics. The overwhelming message coming from the poor babies this week was one of dangerously heightened stress levels. Babies being force fed, babies vomiting, babies showing very red skin tone, back arching, and turning away when being held - avoidant behaviour. Babies close to collapse being roughly fed as part of a regime to be followed. Shocking scenes of babies becoming quiet... There are genuine child protection issues here.
The time-frame here is 2 - 6 weeks
Spock family, having 'their time' snuggled on sofa in the evening.
Dad: This is what we used to do (baby is 2 weeks old)
Mum: I feel physically sick when he cries - I don't know if you suffer from that.
...I gotta go.
Mentors Claire Verity CV, Claire Scott CS (Continuum)
CV Babies cry for no reason at all
CS They have such an anticipation about being held.
CV It isn't about being held, there isn't a reason why they cry all the time, sometimes they just cry for absolutely no reason at all. Very clever little things - they know exactly what's going on.
CS (gasp) You think they're manipulative don't you?
CV They are - very much, very much they are, course they are.
Voice over (VO) Colic isn't harmful. Doctors advise babies are not left to cry for more than 15 mins
This scene was very difficult to view
Truby King family with twins struggled with evening crying and had previously brought the twins down. CV suggests cutting the afternoon feed 'so it will feed better at 7.00 and sleep'. The feed is 1 1/2 oz.
Mum: It doesn't seem like that much Claire, does it?
CV It isn't is it? I know, it's hardly anything at all. Right, that's good.
Right little (name), you're in for a bit of a shock hunny bunny. Make the most of it.
- It's quite a shock to the baby's system to do this, but it's just a one-off, or maybe tomorrow as well just to get them back into this routine of sleeping at 7 o clock because they're very much out of it by the sound of it and I'm not sure what's gone wrong. Something else has gone wrong somewhere else down the line, and we need to take this drastic action to get them back in otherwise they're going to keep doing this for a long time.
- There. What d'you think to that young man?
Mum (distressed, baby mouthing) Oh look, he's looking for food. I don't want to see him hungry.
CV He's going to be hungry, but it's up to you if you want to stop it right now and feed another 2 oz and be up and down stairs all night.
CV I know you can do it.
CV Rocking twins in buggy, to camera...
I think she thinks she's starving them and they're going to be really upset and they're going to hate her for it. I mean, they're only babies, they don't even know and at the end of the day, when it comes to bath time they'll be starving and that means they're going to take 4 oz which is a good night's sleep. You can't expect to be tied to a baby literally 24 hrs a day. You have to have time on your own, you need to have time out and that's between 7 and 11 when these babies are in bed.
VO To make sure they sleep in the evening she wakes the babies from their afternoon nap one hour earlier.
What follows was a damming piece of broadcasting showing the abusive and brutal treatment of infants, which was almost impossible to watch.
Babies screaming in distress
Mum (distressed): I hate it when she's crying.
CV It is all about at the end of the day keeping them awake during this hour just to keep them going so they're absolutely shattered and really hungry.
The twins are so tired they can hardly feed - but they have stopped crying. They are being fed roughly to force them to take the milk, when they are exhausted.
CV Come on madam.
Give it 100 per cent with this routine. No grey areas, black and white, all or nothing.
Later, sat on settee, dad with a beer
CV This is what it's all about, you need to toughen up, really.
Mum: But it's so difficult Claire
CV No it isn't. Be firm at the end of the day you're the one that needs this time together.
Dad: I'll drink to that.
Mum appears defeated
The breastfeeding in public discussion was very poor. Two of the mentors were shocked at the prospect and found it disgusting.
CV Dad: Don't stick your tongue out at me. (See Social Baby book. This is early communication, and something to be celebrated. It is hugely empowering for dads if they know what is happening)
CV's child minder mum (back to work after 6 weeks) feeding the baby quickly, twice. Baby sick.
CV It's all about how much you can get inside. It's like a car, the more you put in the further it goes. Just the same with a baby.
Baby wakes at 2.45am
VO After several traumatic nights (name)'s no longer waking. Are these the first parents to get an unbroken night? And just 6 weeks after giving birth (mum) is back at work as a childminder.
We are both passionate advocates of the styles of parenting we promote, which are quite different. However, we have found unlikely common ground in our condemnation of Channel 4's Bringing Up Baby. At the heart of this is our concern about the neglect and abuse of babies promoted by the misguided information being promoted by Claire Verity, Daisy Goodwin and Channel 4.
Gina Ford said to me (in an agreed quote) that the series is "One of the worst parenting programmes I've ever seen. I just feel so sad for the babies." My comments are well documented on this blog.
Like many of us, Gina Ford felt obliged to write to NSPCC, and with her permission the letter follows...
Dear Mr Cloke,
Re: Bringing Up Baby
This is the second time this year I have had to write to you regarding the suffering of a tiny baby used to sensationalise child-rearing methods in a television programme. In both Bringing Up Baby and Gina Ford - Who Are You To Tell Us babies were left to cry when it was clear that they were genuinely hungry. In the first programme, Gina Ford - Who Are You To Tell Us, the programme makers did at least make it clear to the viewers that Gina Ford advises that if a tiny baby is crying, the parents should always assume that it is hungry and the baby should be fed.
However, in the latest TV programme on parenting methods, Bringing up Baby, Claire Verity advises that a newborn baby should be fed four hourly and that any crying should be ignored. While parents and health care officials alike will always be divided about the best way to bring up a baby, the advice given in this programme - not to feed a tiny crying baby - could endanger a baby's life, particularly if it is being breastfed. I would urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that production companies are not allowed to continue this form of child abuse.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
Link to the full article is here
Excerpt from articles reads
The gist of the protest was that following any kind of a routine with a baby was tantamount to child abuse, that leaving a newborn baby to cry would cause irreparable psychological harm. As one Mumsnet post puts it: "Watching Claire Verity abuse other people's babies in the name of 'routine' makes my blood boil. She should be prosecuted under child protection laws, it's disgusting." As responsible programme-makers we observed due diligence on this for Bringing Up Baby and there is absolutely no scientific evidence that following a routine in infancy has any deleterious effect on the psychological health of the child. There are some aspects of Truby King's routine, such as putting a child in its own room, which are now challenged by cot-death charities such as FSID, which advise mothers to keep babies in the same room for the first six months, and the programme makes current guidelines on this clear. But apart from that there is no hard medical evidence to suggest the Truby King approach poses any threat to a baby's physical or psychological health.
Yes, she really does write... "there is no hard medical evidence to suggest the Truby King approach poses any threat to a baby's physical or psychological health"
I suppose this is true if you don't talk to those who know.
Saturday, 6 October 2007
There are very few comments on the Huggies Bringing Up Baby forum, which makes me wonder how many posts are being blocked.
This of course, enables Kimberley Clarke to be economical with the truth about the depth of feeling over this programme.
Association for Infant Mental Health (AIMH)
Subject: "Bringing up baby"
Social experiments by health professionals must satisfy ethics committees that they are both useful and harmless. Yet a TV company can make a series described as settling "the right way to care for babies", by recruiting six pairs of pregnant parents and mentoring them to follow one of three historical methods.
Twelve parents and their seven babies could not usefully contribute to child care debate and the show is clearly harmful to those taking part as the weeping mother and shocked father of the howling newborn, shut away at the mentor's insistence, alone until the next feed was due and then to be fed with no eye contact and held well away from mother's body, made clear. And the show will harm children of watching parents, too. These Truby King recommendations bedevilled the lives of our great grandparents. They have long been recognised as damaging to babies' development and to their relationships with parents, so advocating them on mass media is irresponsible. Claire Verity, the mentor, was unmoved by the distress she had orchestrated" People pay me £1000 a day to put their babies into a routine... That's what I firmly believe in". Claire Verity has no more right to prevent parents responding to their own babies and preach the rightness of doing so than a psychiatrist would have to insist that a bridge be built to his sketch rather than to an engineering specification.
"Bringing up Baby" is not the first TV series to use the difficulties of volunteer parents and their volunteered babies to entertain the rest of us, (think "Baby Borrowers" or "Help I'm a Teenage mum") but it is the worst and should be the last, says the Association for Infant Mental Health. If television production companies and networks cannot police their own ethics and promote accurate information that viewers can trust, and Ofcom, their regulator cannot make voluntary codes effective, we need compulsory standards and an ethical review process for TV and radio programmes planning manipulations of Infant Care.
Bristol BS4 2UH
Tel: 0208 144 2386
Fax: 0117 370 1011
Friday, 5 October 2007
From our own discussion group...
This is very sad re the long term effects of TK's regimes
5th October 2007
Newborn infants, babies and children should be equally protected from neglect, abuse and harm. In the home, in care environments, in school and in television programmes.
This is true in all bar television.
There are many regulations in place to protect infants which apply to childminders, nurseries and other childcare settings. Television is exempt from any such controls.
The Ofcom Broadcasting Code makes no reference to infants, babies, or children. Section 1 - Protecting the Under-Eighteens is solely concerned with protection from what children might view. As such, broadcasters and production companies can use infants, babies and children as they see fit, with impunity.
Ofcom advised us they will not act before a programme is broadcast and then, only if they feel their code has been breached. This leaves infants completely unprotected against programmes such Channel 4's Bringing Up baby.
Bringing Up Baby follows three styles of parenting over the last 50 years. We are concerned with Truby King, mentored by Claire Verity. Truby King founded his ideas in the early 1900s and has been discredited for decades by research that has given us a better understanding of how an infant's brain develops, and the importance of babies forming secure attachments. Babies are born capable of experiencing a wide range of adult emotions, including pleasure, pain and fear, and contrary to popular opinion, they are highly organised and capable of showing their likes and dislikes.
Bringing Up Baby shows parents being instructed to neglect their newborn infants' cries. In these circumstances, babies quickly become highly stressed, producing high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is extremely damaging to an infant's brain. Left unattended, they eventually give up. They learn there is no point in crying.
Further instructions by Claire Verity in the programme state that there should be no eye contact, no cuddles (physical contact) and the baby should be left unattended outside for long periods of time between feeds. Formula is favoured to breast. In these circumstances, the brain makes adjustments in order to survive. Essential pathways in the brain that deal with empathy, social skills, and anger management simply don't get connected.
Importantly for Claire Verity, her babies become quiet, which she views as a successful outcome. For those of us who are concerned with the emotional wellbeing of children, and understand the reasons for the quiet, the results are frightening.
Director & Co-founder
The Children's Project
PO Box 2, Richmond, TW10 7YE, UK
T: 08450 94 54 94 F: 08450 94 54 84
Further information and reading
Unicef Convention on the Rights of the Child
National Occupational Standards for Work with Parents
Sure Start Birth to Three Matters
HM Government Every Child Matters
Why Love Matters, Sue Gerhardt
The Science of Parenting, Margot Sunderland
The Social Baby, Lynne Murray & Liz Andrews
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) is very concerned about some of the child rearing practices portrayed on the Channel 4 programme 'Bringing up Baby' and in particular sleeping arrangements. There is good evidence about the best sleeping arrangements to minimise cot death and the programme fails to makes this clear.
We strongly advise viewers who are considering any of the methods shown in the programme to read the Department of Health's guidance on reducing the risk of cot death
The RCPCH firmly support these guidelines and most importantly:
• Place your baby on the back to sleep, in a cot in a room with you
• Cut smoking in pregnancy – fathers too!
• Do not let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby
• Do not let your baby get too hot
• Keep your baby’s head uncovered – place your baby in the 'feet to foot' position
• Do not share a bed with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol, take drugs or if you are a smoker
• If your baby is unwell, seek prompt advice.
The RCPCH also strongly encourages breastfeeding as there are clear proven health benefits to both the baby and mother. Breastfeeding provides babies with optimal nutrition and helps protect them from infection in the first six months of their life. Nothing comes close to breast milk for the advantages it offers, and we hope that more mothers will make it their first choice for infant feeding.
Notes to editors:
- Department of Health - 'Reduce the risk of cot death: An easy guide' (2007 edition) - (http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4123625
- RCPCH was not approached for expert medical advice by the programme makers.
- RCPCH supports the Breastfeeding Manifesto - http://www.bestbeginnings.info/
Head of Media Affairs
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
50 Hallam Street
Leading the way in children's health
Thursday, 4 October 2007
Claire Verity, Daisy Goodwin, a representative from FSID and 2 mums are on BBC Radio 5 Live with Victoria Derbyshire (9 - 12 noon) tomorrow, Friday 5th October.
"The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the regulatory body for the nursing and midwifery professions in the UK. The NMC exists to protect the public and we do this by maintaining a register of nearly 700,000 nurses, midwives and specialist community public health nurses. The register is only open to those who have achieved the strict standards of training, education and qualifications required by the NMC. The only people who are permitted to call themselves a registered nurse, midwife or specialist community public health nurse are those who are on the register.
"Nursing and midwifery are highly respected professions and anyone receiving care by someone called ‘nurse’ or ‘midwife’ expects them to be registered and therefore hold the required skills and competencies that go with that title. Made-up titles like ‘maternity nurse’ are deceptive as they imply the person has earned qualifications that they do not have. This only serves to confuse the public and could prove damaging to the high level of trust that people have for genuine nurses and midwives."
I need to clarify that Harvey is of course a member of the RCPCH and used to be our Honarary Press Officer, but gave this role up over a year ago as I now manage the press office as a permanent staff member. He was not representing the College when advising these programme makers, nor did any request come via the College for expert advise. He has done this independently as a consultant paediatrician. Please change this on your website/blog.
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
This week Hamish Mykura (C4) and Daisy Goodwin (Silver River) made public statements reassuring viewers that safeguards were in place, and we were advised we would feel better after the second show, when the science is referred to.
I witnessed Claire Verity handling a new baby very roughly, with disrespect and no concern for the state of the infant, who was clearly shocked and distressed.
Bear in mind we are seeing babies during the first 2 weeks of life.
Here is some of what was said. Claire Verity is CV...
CV: I think people who pick up babies are stupid - absolutely stupid. There's absolutely no reason to pick up a baby - leave it alone, don't touch it.
CV: She's looking at you. No eye contact please.
Mum: No eye contact at all whenwe're feeding?
CV: No. Once he gets eye contact he knows that he's in charge - and he's not. You're in charge and your feeding him. It's all about getting this milk down him.
Voice Over: Getting enough milk into a baby to last 4 hours is a lot easier with a bottle than a breast.
(on formula) Manufacturers promoted it as being better for babies than breast milk, but then this was at the same time as cigarettes were being promoted as a health product.
Distressed mum talking to CV...
Mum: I can't physically do it..
CV: But you're not being mean to her.
Mum: I feel like it though (baby left outside). I just spend all my time stood at back door which is defeating the object of her having a 4-hour sleep.
CV: It is really. You've got to rise above it, understand that she's playing you up, this baby, she knows exactly what she's doing, she's looking for attention, even at this age, all the time. So don't bow down to her, don't give in, you're in charge, keep going with the routine.
The other couple with twins. Mum sobbing at having them outside for 3 1/2 hours...
Twins screaming in distress.
Mum: Where's Claire? I can't leave them out there, they're crying their eyes out. I can't.
CV: Sit down a minute - I'll deal with them - trust me.
Mum (sobbing): I don't want them out there (name).
Dad: If it doesn't work today we'll change it tomorrow.
CV (outside with babies): Sometimes babies do cry - it's a fact of life. Nothing to worry about. I'm not worried - (smiling) do I look worried?
Mum: The other thing that was concerning me is molly-coddling them too much, and I don't want to - you could easily do that.
CV: I can see you going down that road rapidly - but I'm not going to let you.
How much time do you hold a baby?
CV: The baby's not held - unless they're feeding, bathing or changing a nappy.
(Spock mentor): So for 20 hours it's left? Where's the security in that?
CV: The security is obviously it's swaddled at night in it's own cot.
Security from a swaddle?
CV: The security is in its own pram or buggy or when the parents are around. You don't actually have to hold a baby physically to make it feel secure.
(Continuum mentor): No-one really knows the detrimental effect of really leaving a baby to cry, until these resurface in later life when they're in relationships, they suffer from low self-esteem, they don't trust. When babies cry they cry for a reason, They need to be held they need to be picked up - they need to feel they can trust their parents.
CV: No they don't need to be held or picked up. Babies cry for no absolutely reason at all, it's the only way they communicate.
7 year old sibling on baby crying whilst they are trying to eat tea: She's just doing it to get some attention.
Mum: Exactly, (name), well done.
If you wish to contact the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health you can here
I am writing to express my deep concern about the content of Channel 4's Bringing Up Baby and the involvement of Harvey Marcovitch. He appears to be the only expert advising the programme, about whom, the publicity states (amongst other details)... From its foundation until 2006, he was a Council member and external relations adviser of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health. He was editor of Archives of Disease in Childhood for 10 years and is now syndication editor for BMJ Publishing Group.
Part of the programme gives credance to the methods of Truby King, which has proven deeply distressing and shocking to all of us who promote a greater understanding of infant mental health and well being. The programme flies in the face of current thinking and is raising comment from (as well as ourselves), AIMH, Amicus/CPHVA, NCT, FSID and a growing number of individuals and organisations concerned with protecting infants and their carers.
What is most concerning is that Channel 4 states, and I quote Hamish Mykura; "We sought advice from a very highly qualified paediatrician, who saw the programmes and the routines being followed, and who is familiar with all the research on association between longer term health and well being and childcare methods. His advice was that there was nothing in the programmes that would cause any ill effects to the babies, either short or longer term".
This is clearly not the case, as I am sure you are aware. Advising parents (against their better judgement) to leave newborn infants to cry and stating that there is absolutely no reason to pick up a baby - leave it alone, don't touch it, in 2007 is neglectful and should be condemned, not condoned by your representative, Harvey Marcovitc.
We are preparing a position statement and would appreciate your official response that we can include.
Clive Dorman, The Children's Project
020 8546 8750
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
How to complain:
Ofcom have explained to me how their system works. They DO NOT respond according to the number of complaints received (as was evident in the Big Brother case), but they DO respond to complaints that indicate a broadcaster is in breach of their code.
This means they may have thousands of complaints and not take action (as in Big Brother), or they may act after just one complaint if they feel this shows the code has been breached.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that complaints either make reference to, or clearly indicate which part of the code you feel has been broken. This will be key to the success or otherwise of any complaints.
There is a major problem with this. The Code makes no reference to infants or babies (that I can find), which I suspect leaves a loophole for programme makers and broadcasters to produce what they wish without regulation.
The Ofcom Broadcasting Code can be viewed in a new window here. The Code barely covers the concerns we have over Bringing up Baby. I would recommend anyone study the Code before writing a complaint, but as a guide I have briefly looked at the Code and suggest those that may be helpful with any complaint:
Section 1 - Protecting the Under-Eighteens
1.1 Material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of people under eighteen must not be broadcast.
Most of this section concerns children viewing programmes before the watershed, however, BUB in part one did encourage a young girl (clearly upset) to avoid contact with her new sibling.
Section 2 - Harm and Offence
2.2 Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience.
Section 5 - Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions
This sections Principles are: (Quote)
To ensure that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.
To ensure that the special impartiality requirements of the Act are complied with
Sadly, I can't see much here that is relevant as Section 5 is news based, but the essence of the rules easily apply to infants, as do the meaning, and maybe this can be highlighted to Ofcom in a complaint...
Meaning of "due impartiality":
"Due" is an important qualification to the concept of impartiality. Impartiality itself means not favouring one side over another. "Due" means adequate or appropriate to the subject and nature of the programme. So "due impartiality" does not mean an equal division of time has to be given to every view, or that every argument and every facet of every argument has to be represented. The approach to due impartiality may vary according to the nature of the subject, the type of programme and channel, the likely expectation of the audience as to content, and the extent to which the content and approach is signalled to the audience. Context, as defined in Section Two: Harm and Offence of the Code, is important.
Section 7 - Fairness
Dealing fairly with contributors and obtaining informed consent
7.3 Where a person is invited to make a contribution to a programme (except when the subject matter is trivial or their participation minor) they should normally, at an appropriate stage:
Taking these measures is likely to result in the consent that is given being 'informed consent' (referred to in this section and the rest of the Code as "consent").
It may be fair to withhold all or some of this information where it is justified in the public interest or under other provisions of this section of the Code.
I was amazed to discover that there are more books sold every day on child care than there are babies born. We seem to have a never ending appetite for advice during this important part of our lives, but it seems that books can only offer advice - what they can't do is show the effect of following that advice in real life. Clearly many people are following the many different theories all over the country, and we thought that a television programme that followed couples choosing to follow three of the better known methods would make fascinating viewing, not least because most of our viewers would have had personal experience of one of these methods during their own childhood! I hope that those of you who have voiced criticism of a particular method on this forum might see the value of showing what it actually involves and allowing other viewers to judge for themselves. We did not intend to promote any particular theory, but hoped this would be an interesting way to stimulate a debate the pros and cons of each method.
Many of you have expressed concern about both the babies and the parents featured in the programme, and especially those following the Truby King method with Clare Verity as their mentor. When we selected couples for the programme, we were very clear that they would be free to decide what childcare method would work best for them and their lifestyle and the programme would observe how they reacted to putting the theory into practise, and what changes they might decide to make as they adapted the methods to suit them and their babies during the period of filming.
Several people have asked what advice we took during the making of the programme - we consulted a GP, a neurologist, and a highly qualified consultant paediatrician, and we showed all four episodes to the consultant paediatrician before completing them and took his advice on several important changes to the editing and voice over to make reference to current medical advice.
Other people have asked about how the various methods compare to current Department of Health guidelines on childcare and wellbeing. The couples we filmed received all the usual advice from their GPs, midwives and healthcare visitors, and were free to adapt the method they chose to take account of the advice from these sources. You will pleased to hear that all six families were happy with the experience they went through, and all of them are sticking with the method they originally chose and any adaptations they have made along the way.
Some of you have raised issues around the longer term effects associated with the different childcare methods on which this series was based. We sought advice from a very highly qualified paediatrician, who saw the programmes and the routines being followed, and who is familiar with all the research on association between longer term health and well being and childcare methods. His advice was that there was nothing in the programmes that would cause any ill effects to the babies, either short or longer term, and he has also provided more detailed advice for the web site supporting the programme (www.channel4.com/bringingupbaby) and can answer any particular questions you might have in the "ask the expert" section of the site.
I apologise for such a long post, but hope that this has answered some of your questions and reassured those of you who were alarmed or upset by what you saw. I hope you will watch the next episode tonight, and I will be visiting this forum again during the week to join in with the debate.
Monday, 1 October 2007
Thank you for your recent phonecall regarding HUGGIES® nappies sponsorship of the “Bringing Up Baby” programme on Channel 4® television network.
HUGGIES® really cares about babies and the special bond they have with their parents. Previous generations have always claimed to hold the key to successful parenting and this programme looks at those methods while opening up the debate and allowing parents to choose the method that suits them and their modern lifestyle best.
While we are the sponsors of this programme we, by law, have no control over the content. Having seen all four episodes we are confident that Channel 4 presents a balanced debate and in the end it is up to the viewers to decide whether it’s the experts or mum who knows best.
HUGGIES® understands that the mother and baby relationship is at the heart of parenting and have set up a forum on its website for parents to discuss the programme and express their views.
Comments such as yours help us understand how people feel about our advertising and the programmes during which we advertise. Please be assured that your opinion is important to us and will be passed on to the relevant people within Kimberly-Clark.
Consumer Services Department