New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) A child crying inconsolably after being ousted from a reality TV show, his parents watching in dejection and the audience clapping in sympathy may push up TRP ratings. But it may also cause immense trauma to the child.
Now the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has come up with a strict list of do's and don'ts for TV shows involving children. These call for a counsellor on the sets of the show, limited work hours and no deep make-up for the kids.
'We will soon submit the proposed guidelines to the women and child development ministry,' Sandhya Bajaj, who headed the committee on children's participation in TV serials and reality shows, told IANS.
'We have framed them after meeting child artists and their parents. We met producers and directors and visited studios.'
The main objective behind framing the guidelines was that the children are treated with care, respect and dignity, are protected against risks, work in a safe and secure environment and are safe against harm and abuse.
'There should be provision for a child counsellor during shooting, especially in reality shows, since the child may be dejected when he or she loses. A child can feel traumatised by a single loss and this can have a lifelong impact,' Bajaj told IANS.
She said deep make-up often has harmful effects on the skin and so they have suggested that children's make-up should not be deep. 'Make-up should be either avoided or it should be minimum,' she added.
The NCPCR last June received many complaints on TV serials like 'Boogie Woogie', 'Chak De Bache' and 'Little Champs' that show young ones dancing and singing.
But what made the commission sit up and take notice is an incident in June last year when a participant in a Bengali music reality show suffered a breakdown and had to be hospitalised after she was severely rebuked by the judges for her performance.
The NCPCR then formed a committee of 12 that included teachers and directors.
'The remarks by the judges on a reality show or talent hunt should not be demoralising or rude. A child's sensitivity must be borne in mind while evaluating a performance,' the guidelines propose.
'We must ensure that children and young people are not caused unnecessary anxiety or distress by their involvement in programmes or by their broadcast, and support should be given to them when necessary,' it added.
Bajaj, who visited many studios in Mumbai and interacted with child artists like Avika Gor who plays the young bride Anandi and Avinash Mukherjee who plays her husband Jagdish in the famous serial 'Balika Vadhu', said children work till late hours and don't get time for recreation and studies.
'It's pertinent to regulate the working hours of children. Many shows involve extensive hours of shooting which can carry on for 12 hours or more.
This can be exhausting for the child,' said Bajaj.
'We have proposed there should be a regulation on the number of hours a child can shoot in a day. The number of hours can be depending upon the age group of the child but should be between three to eight hours,' she said.
Suggestions have also been made that the scenes involving children be shot during daytime so as to avoid late nights. 'Some of these children are doing their homework in the studios. Like Anandi and her co-star Jagdish. Both of them study at the studio,' Bajaj said.
The other recommendations include amenities extended to the children inside and outside the studio, no junk food, recreational facilities and the presence of a parent or guardian during shoots.
'The child should feel safe. At the moment, they are enjoying the star status. But if they are harmed in any way now, their future could be problematic,' Bajaj said.
(Kavita Bajeli-Datt can be contacted at email@example.com)