Radio Sandwell Miscellanea

Channel 4 in Benefits Street child exploitation row

2014-01-22 00:09:52

Channel 4 was accused of exploiting children as young as seven by showing children on Benefits Street swearing and misbehaving.

Critics said it was 'utterly reprehensible' that 'distressing' scenes were being shown where youngsters clashed with their parents.

In last night's show 'White Dee' - whose real name is Deirdre Kelly - was seen yelling at her tearaway seven-year-old son Gerrard after he lost his bicycle before she shouted at him 'your grounded'.

The executive chairman of a school on 'Benefits Street', which is filmed on James Turner Street, in Birmingham, said the welfare of all their pupils was affected as a result of the show.


Child star: Gerrard Kelly, the seven-year-old son of 'White Dee' who appears on Benefits Street on Channel 4. Questions have been raised about whether the broadcaster got proper consent before showing the youngsters on screen


Claimant culture: On James Turner Street in Birmingham it is claimed that over 90 per cent of the residents are on benefits

Fans of the Channel 4 show have been disrupting lessons by posing for selfies next to a road sign outside the classrooms.

Steve Chalke, from the charity that manages Oasis Academy Foundry, said: 'Every day there are endless streams of people queuing up here to have their picture taken by the James Turner Street sign outside the school.

'We have pupils who are scared to go out in the playground at break times and children who are missing classes as a result.'

During last night's episode one of the pupils had the logo on his school uniform blurred.

He added that Benefits Street should not be showing clashes between children.

'Channel 4 have shown children swearing on the show but these camera crews have followed these families for a year. It is utterly reprehensible to show these difficult moments in family life to the nation,' he said.

'These children are aged seven or eight or in their early teenage years and this footage is going on Facebook and Twitter and will always be there.

'We need to have a mature discussion about welfare dependency in this country without demonising one street.


Benefits: 'White Dee', pictured outside her home on Benefits Street today, was seen disciplining her seven-year-old son Gerrard for losing his bicycle on last night's episode


Benefits Street: Single mother 'White Dee' was seen shouting at her children last night in scenes described as 'distressing'

Asked if the individuals on the show had been exploited, he said: 'I believe that they have been.

'What I would like to appeal to the rest of the country to do is to contact Ofcom and complain if they don't like what they have seen.

'If anyone thinks that these scenes are detrimental to the welfare and the development of young people or they caused unnecessary distress or anxiety to them through their involvement in the show then they should complain.

'I am told that 1,000 people have complained to Ofcom already but that number should be one million.'


Gerrard, five, son of White Dee is out on James Turner Street with Fungi (left)

Asked if the individuals on the show had been exploited, he said: 'I believe that they have been.

'What I would like to appeal to the rest of the country to do is to contact Ofcom and complain if they don't like what they have seen.

'If anyone thinks that these scenes are detrimental to the welfare and the development of young people or they caused unnecessary distress or anxiety to them through their involvement in the show then they should complain.

'I am told that 1,000 people have complained to Ofcom already but that number should be one million.'


TV appearance: A young boy is seen on screen on Benefits Street. The executive chairman of the charity that runs a local school has complained that children are too scared to play outside after the show was broadcast


Child star: A spokesman for Channel 4 insisted they had got the informed consent from the parents of all the under 16s on the programme

The third episode in the series last night pulled in 5.2million people - the biggest audience since the Paralympic closing ceremony.

However, the programme has attracted hundreds of complaints to Ofcom from viewers.
The television watchdog will wait until the end of the series before deciding whether to launch a full investigation.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said they had sought full consent from parents before showing children on Benefits Street.


The television watchdog will wait until the end of the series before deciding whether to launch a full investigation


Critics said it was 'utterly reprehensible' that 'distressing' scenes were being shown where youngsters clashed with their parents

'Filming with any contributors aged under 16 was done with the informed consent of all appropriate adults and the children themselves in accordance with the relevant sections of the Ofcom broadcasting code.

'Any children without consent have been blurred in programmes.'

She added: 'The welfare of the people and particularly of the children appearing in the series is of paramount importance to us. The contributors were briefed extensively before any filming took place and have been given support all the way through the process.

'The main contributors have been offered the opportunity to view the programmes they feature in before transmission.

'We took on board their comments and in some cases made changes to the programmes.'

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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