Help for reality TV children

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The Independent Online

The NSPCC is to set up a new body to protect children who appear on reality TV shows in the face of "irresponsible" parenting programmes, it announced today.

A group of experts will be convened to advise production companies on how best to safeguard the safety and wellbeing of young people and babies appearing on shows, the society said.

It follows concern over a Channel 4 series in which parents were advised to ignore their baby's cries and a BBC show in which young children were left with inexperienced teenagers.

The society said it feared that the rapid growth in reality parenting TV was exposing the young to potential harm.

It highlighted the recent Channel 4 series Bringing Up Baby. During the programme, parents were told to ignore the cries of their infant and resist cuddling.

The NSPCC said "outdated and potentially harmful" methods of baby care had prompted it to state that future programme makers needed to assure the public that adequate checks are in place to safeguard the welfare of children.

The society also aired concern over the imminent broadcasting of a second series of The Baby Borrowers on BBC3. In the first series of the show, babies and young children are shown as being left with inexperienced teenagers, the society said.

It was condemned as irresponsible by the Local Safeguarding Children's Board.

Dame Mary Marsh, director and chief executive of the NSPCC, said: "We are increasing worried that babies and young children are being put in unsuitable and potentially harmful experimental situations for entertainment purposes.

"The Baby Borrowers, where babies appear to be left in the care of inexperienced, teenage strangers for long periods of time, appears to take little account of a baby's need for consistent love, warmth and communication from their parents."

As such the NSPCC said it intends to write to professional nursing and medical associations this week to help set up the expert advisory group.

Dame Mary said: "The group would advise on the latest developments in childcare advice and psychology ensuring that children's rights and developmental needs are the utmost priority at all times.

"We need responsible broadcasting that is not at the expense of children's wellbeing."

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