Mary has picked up on the news of a reality-TV show which the BBC recently broadcast, in which five "couples" aged between 16 and 19 were filmed attempting to look after children who were loaned to them for a few days.
Here is the BBC3 information about the programme. They tell us:
Britain's teenagers are breeding like rabbits - can they be convinced to wait? We tool up five teenage couples for the toughest job of all - parenting.The Daily Mail reports on the story in an article titled Fury as TV teenagers play house with REAL babies. They point out:
Our series is packed with tears and tantrums as the teens get to grips with the reality of being 'grown-ups'. How will they cope with childcare and, more importantly, each other? Will they take to parenthood and adult life like a duck to water or run home to mum? Find out, when you meet the 'parents' in this unique social experiment.
Local authority officials were so concerned about the 'very real risk' of physical and psychological damage to the children that they urged the BBC to cancel the series.In her excellent post on this experiment, Talk is cheap and so is life, Mary asks,
Relationship? What kind of a "relationship" do children aged 16-19 have anyway? Certainly it is devoid of commitment which is supposed to be the basis of a relationship. And why ever didn't law enforcement get involved and charge the parents and production company with child labor, or neglect or something?In the Catholic Church in England and Wales, current practice for safeguarding children means that grandmothers who have worked in the parish for decades will be run through Criminal Record Bureau checks, interviewed, and have references taken up. We're planning some more training to make sure everyone knows and agrees to some common basics of good practice for keeping children safe.
I am more than happy to get all this done if it means that we close all the loopholes we can, and make sure that our work with children and young people is of the best possible quality. My parishioners take a generous and responsible attitude to the personal inconvenience involved, and I have had help from some excellent people (retired Headteacher, police officer with experience in child protection, social workers etc.) who have given their time to this important work.
But it is increasingly obvious that where safeguarding children is concerned, there is one rule for the Church and another for the media.