Call on the Listener Log about last night's programme.
TX Date: 12/03/09
"I can't understand why Esther Rantzen was on the programme giving her views on the state of Child Protection services in this country. She is not a qualified social worker and so has no professional expertise to offer."
Total number of contacts for the programme: 1"
Yes that's right. No professional expertise....
"In 1986 she produced and presented "Childwatch", which alerted the British public to the prevalence of child abuse, and successfully campaigned for a number of legal reforms in this area.
Although the programme was influential in many different ways, not least in the introduction of the videolink for child witnesses, it is notable for the launch of the first national helpline for children in danger or distress, ChildLine. Rantzen had suggested the Childwatch programme to Channel One Controller Michael Grade after the death of a toddler who had starved to death, locked in a bedroom. The aim of the programme was to find better ways of detecting children at risk of abuse, and to that end, viewers of That's Life! who had themselves experienced cruelty as children were asked to take part in a survey detailing the circumstances of their abuse. Rantzen suggested that after that edition of That's Life!, the BBC should open a helpline for children, in case any young viewers suffering current abuse wished to ring in to ask for help. The helpline was open for 48 hours, during which it was swamped with calls, mainly from children suffering sexual abuse they had never been able to disclose to anyone else. This gave Rantzen the idea for a specific helpline for children in distress or danger, to be open throughout the year, 24/7, the first line of its kind in the world. The Childwatch team consulted child care professionals, who agreed that children would use such a helpline, but that it would be impossible to create. Nevertheless the team obtained funding from the Department of Health and the Variety Club of Great Britain, both of whom donated £25,000, and Ian Skipper OBE, (a noted philanthropist who had already helped Rantzen set up a special fund in memory of Ben Hardwick), agreed to underwrite the cost of running the helpline for the first year. Rantzen and the team went to BT to ask for premises for the charity and for a simple freephone number, both of which were provided. The Childwatch programme, based on the results of the survey, launched ChildLine with a specially written jingle (by B. A. Robertson) which featured the free phone number 0800 1111. On that first night in October 1986, fifty thousand attempted calls were made to the helpline. ChildLine now has twelve bases around the UK, including two in Northern Ireland, two in Scotland, and two in Wales. ChildLine has now merged with the NSPCC, which has enabled it to expand to try to meet the demand. The helpline has now been copied in 150 countries around the world."