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Trial by video

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 23 January 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:269
  1. Annabel Ferriman
  1. BMJ

    Someone to Watch Over Me, ITV, 12January

    Few people attract as much sympathy as parents “wrongly” accused of child abuse. Some members of the public believe that doctors and social workers accuse parents of abuse at the drop of a hat and on the flimsiest of evidence. So it was salutary to see hard evidence of abuse during a television programme last week, even though it made grim watching.

    Yorkshire Television's documentary Someone to Watch Over Me, which tackled the controversial subject of covert video surveillance of parents suspected of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, produced footage showing apparently normal parents inflicting various forms of abuse in a cool, calm, and collected way. Viewers saw men and women trying to smother their babies by covering their children's mouths and noses with their hands or bodies. The babies squirmed and kicked as they tried to wrest their faces away from the obstruction.

    You might imagine that health workers would welcome the showing of such evidence, because it should increase the public's understanding of the issue and strengthen the …

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