Kids need to be protected from the media claims MP

April 29, 2009 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

by Amy Bourke

Parents who exploit their children through the media were criticised in the Commons today by Jacqui Lait MP.

The MP for Beckenham highlighted two recent cases: one of a child who was involved in a fake kidnap plot to gain a large reward from the media, and a 13-year old boy who allegedly fathered a child.

In both cases, the children were exploited by their parents and exposed to a media storm for financial gain, but have now regained their anonymity through the courts.

Mrs. Lait said:

“To have lots of strangers doorstepping them, asking for comments and interviews, shouting at them, having flashing cameras pointed at them and being followed by the press pack must have been a nightmare, and I commend the relevant authorities for acting as quickly as they could within the ponderous processes of the law to protect the youngsters in a way that any normal person would expect the parents to do.”

She added: “What concerns me more than anything else is that the parents could even dream that they could make money from their own vulnerable children.”

In a ten minute rule bill, Mrs. Lait proposed the Protection of Children (Publicity) Bill, which suggests that any parent or guardian who causes the publication of information harmful to their child, and is convicted, would face either a fine and/or imprisonment of up to two years.

A child would be defined as someone under 18 years old, and harm would be defined as both physical and psychological harm.

The law would not refer to so-called “child prodigies”, who Mrs. Lait said we would need “to do well in the Olympics and to get us out of our current economic mess.”

The bill was not opposed. It is due for its second reading on Friday June 26th, although few ten minute rule bills ever become law.

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