Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Open Letter to The Telegraph from the Association for Infant Mental Health (AIMH)

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series as Bringing Up Baby the last part of which is to be shown tomorrow.Many techniques used in these programmes are outdated and completely fly in the face of our scientific knowledge about brain development in very young babies.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.

Mary MacLeod,
Chief Executive, Family and Parenting Institute

Penny Mansfield,
Director, One plus One

Dorit Braun,
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

Christine Bidmead,
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

Helen Dent,
Chief Executive, Family Welfare Association

Dr Shirley Gracias
Knowle Clinic,Broadfield Road,Bristol,BS4 2UH

Have you signed the petition at 10 Downing Street yet?

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