Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reality Programming - Blurring the lines between entertainment and child abuse

Yesterday, on the Kyle and Jackie O radio program on Sydney's 2DayFM, a young girl was dragged on, by her mother, to submit to a lie detector test. It was evident from the get go that the girl did not want to be questioned and being on live radio made it all the more stressful.

And then the worst happened. Asked about her sexual history, the fourteen year old turned to her mother and cryptically said, "you know about that". The young traumatised teen then admitted to being raped at the tender age of twelve. Yet the interview was allowed to continue, with Kyle asking if she had any other sexual relationships, and her mother admitted to knowing about it, but had obviously not taken her child seriously or did not understand the effect such an attack had on the young child.

Her mother had brought her to the radio station because she was concerned about her teenager's wayward behaviour in recent years. She was unaware, or unconcerned that the behaviour she had exhibited was typical of a young person trying to eradicate the mental torture she obviously still enduring following the attack.

The unfolding events on 2DayFM was nothing less that child abuse, yes, I believe that they had no idea where the segment would go, but at the same time, asking a child such revealing questions, against her wishes is illegal and offensive. By the time they stopped the segment, it was too late.

So one has to wonder, has reality program crossed a line? This writer believes it has. How can anyone, the stars of the radio program, the producer, the mother believe that listeners would find the interrogation of a young girl entertaining?

It was appalling and shocking, not entertaining.Even if the girl had not revealed the horrible truth about the attack, listening to her beg not to be put through the lie detector test was heartbreaking enough. There is a saying, that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but I don't know how those responsible could feel anything but guilty.

The Department of Community Services (DOCS) and the police are now investigating the matter. I can only hope that their first duty of care is to ensure the young girl is safe and that she is offered intensive therapy and counselling to help her manage the emotions this has unearthed and to help her from the spiral of dispair that can occur following a sexual assault.

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