Statement from The Children's Project regarding Bringing Up baby on Channel 4 and Claire Verity
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