Thursday, 25 October 2007

Letter to the Children's Commissioner from the Association for Infant Mental Health (AIMH)

Professor A Aynsley Green
Children’s Commissioner
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 Some of these were outdated, such as leaving a baby to cry for lengthy periods in order to manage crying.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
Yours sincerely

Dr Shirley Gracias MBChB DCH MRCPsych
Consultant in Infant Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Chair of AIMH (UK)

Have you signed the petition at 10 Downing Street yet?

Or cut and paste the URL and send to everyone

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