Section 9: Children and Young People as Contributors
The Impact of a Contribution
Even when we have secured 'parental consent', we must consider carefully the impact and possible consequences of any material which involves a child, both during the production process and once the material has been broadcast. This applies both when we have approached the child to contribute and when they have approached us, including with user generated content.
Children are often eager to contribute to our output but many lack the judgement necessary to assess the longer-term impact it may have on their lives. When featuring anti-social, harmful or illegal activity amongst children, such as illegal drug use, abuse, eating disorders, and bullying, we should consider consulting experts about the best way of approaching interviews and minimising distress.
We normally aim to work with children in the presence of those responsible for their supervision, although circumstances may vary. Nevertheless, when sensitive issues are being discussed with a child or young person, it is often advisable to have someone there who is familiar to them and who can help safeguard their interests, such as a relative, family friend, or teacher.
We should ensure children and young people are given a voice but we must also be alert to occasions when children exaggerate, try to please or report gossip or hearsay as fact. Criminal or anti-social behaviour should not go unchallenged.
When considering whether or not to identify children and young people involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour, we should take due account of their interests. Consideration should be given to the age of the child or young person, the nature or seriousness of the behaviour and the possible consequences of identification. We should not normally identify children when featuring such behaviour to illustrate a practice, unless there is a clear editorial justification. Always seek advice from a senior editorial figure, or for independents the commissioning editor, if you are unsure how to proceed.
There may also be legal reasons for not identifying a child or young person. If in doubt, consult Programme Legal Advice. Advice on the identification of a child or young person with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) or involved in court proceedings is available from Programme Legal Advice.
(See Section 18 the Law: 18.9)
The decision to involve, feature or identify children whose parents are engaged in anti-social or criminal activity should only be made if the welfare of the child will not be harmed and if it is clearly editorially justified. This is particularly important when children may be at risk because, for example, they are living with an alcoholic parent, or being forced to work as couriers of illegal drugs.