Section 9: Children and Young People as Contributors - Introduction

Section 9.1

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Children and young people are important to the BBC. They contribute and interact with us in many different ways – as contributors, performers, presenters, through our interactive and user-generated content, via all our services.

We should serve them with high-quality, distinctive and duly impartial output and services which inform, educate and entertain. Ensuring the content they consume is appropriate is considered throughout the Editorial Guidelines and, specifically, in Section 5 Harm and Offence. This section is concerned with how we deal with under-18s who contribute to and interact with our content, whether or not it is aimed at them, or routinely includes them as contributors [1].

Children and young people have a right to speak out and to participate, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but we must safeguard the welfare of those who contribute to our content, wherever in the world we operate and irrespective of any consent that might have been given by a parent or other adult acting in loco parentis.

We are also subject to the law regarding children and the BBC’s Child Protection Policy. For the purposes of this section of the Editorial Guidelines and unless stated otherwise, a child is someone under the age of 16 years. Young people are those aged 16 and 17. It should be noted that these are not legal definitions.

We must take due care over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of under-18s who take part or are otherwise involved in our editorial content, irrespective of any consent given by them or by a parent, guardian or other person acting in loco parentis. Their welfare must take priority over any editorial requirement.

Due care towards children and young people who take part or are otherwise involved in our editorial content is the level of care that is appropriate in the particular circumstances. We must judge this taking into account the nature of the editorial content and the nature and degree of the children’s and young people’s involvement, along with other relevant factors including age, sex, gender, maturity, cultural, ethnic and religious background, personal circumstances, previous life experiences and capacity to make judgements about their participation and its likely consequences. We should not assume that every under-18 will respond in the same way when participating in our content.

We must ensure that under-18s are not caused unnecessary distress or anxiety by their involvement in our output. Their involvement must be editorially justified, consents should be obtained as appropriate to the circumstances of the person and the nature of the contribution and content, and support should be given to them where necessary. 

[1] The sections of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code that relate to this are 1: Protecting the Under-Eighteens, ‘The involvement of people under eighteen in programmes’; 7: Fairness and 8: Privacy.

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