Professor A Aynsley Green
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