‘Boys and Girls Alone’ documentary condemned as child abuse


A typical scene from “Boys and Girls Alone” (Photo: Daily Mail)

The Times | Feb 12, 2009

By Alexandra Frean and Patrick Foster

Social services have demanded that Channel 4 axe a controversial series in which 20 primary school children are left without adult supervision for a fortnight.

Cornwall Children’s Services Authority said that it would have stopped Boys and Girls Alone being filmed in its area had it known about it. It is considering seeking an injunction to stop more episodes being shown.

Two out of four have been aired, leading to an outcry from child psychologists, who say the programme amounts to “abuse and neglect” of the children, aged 8-11. Left to their own devices in isolated cottages in Cornwall, the youngsters are shown fighting and tormenting each other and dissolving into tears.


In a letter to Channel 4 and the regulator Ofcom, Ruby Parry, the authority’s assistant director for social care and family services, said that the programme raised serious child-protection issues. “Whilst it appears that parental consent was obtained for filming, such consent was, in our view … ill-advised and naive,” she said.

“Some of the children were greatly distressed and this in our view is abusive. This distress has now been publicly broadcast to all of these children’s peers and is therefore likely to have long-term consequences for some of them. In addition, given the current national concerns in relation to the safeguarding of children in this country, it is in our view highly irresponsible for Channel 4 to broadcast a programme which demeans and to some extent demonises children and thus reinforces negative public perceptions of children and their vulnerability.”

Ms Parry said programme-makers had breached laws requiring local authority approval for any child performance. “One of the children involved is from Cornwall but no licence has been sought from this authority. Given that any such application would have resulted in detailed inquiries from the authority about the nature of the programme and the safeguarding issues involved, we can only surmise that this was a deliberate omission.”

Ofcom is investigating after receiving more than 100 complaints. It is understood to have written to Channel 4 to ask why the show was considered appropriate for transmission.

Melanie Gill, a child forensic psychologist, who asked Cornwall social services to investigate, said the programme could cause psychological damage to the participants. “There is deliberate torment by adults of children in obvious distress,” she said. “By exposing these scenes to millions of viewers, the programme-makers are publicly humiliating these children (and their parents) for their failure to cope with what amounts to an abnormal, perverse and cruel money-making peep show.”

Michelle Elliott, a child psychologist and founder of the anti-bullying charity Kidscape, said: “If you put children together, unsupervised, as sure as day follows night, there will be bullying… How much worse will it be for them to know they have been bullied in front of the whole nation?”

Andrew Mackenzie, Channel 4’s head of factual entertainment, said the programme was a “stimulating and happy experience” for the children. It had conformed with Ofcom guidelines and the channel’s own strict production protocols, he said, adding that the children had been screened by a clinical psychologist. The children and parents had access to expert advice at all stages, there had been constant security and trained chaperones intervened when appropriate. The families had been paid only expenses, he said.

16 responses to “‘Boys and Girls Alone’ documentary condemned as child abuse

  1. You would have learned what would happen
    by watching “Lord of the Flies”, another
    English Social Experiment.

  2. Yes, they talk about that in the Related article:

    How much further can they go? Channel 4 strands children on an island for ‘real-life Lord of the Flies’

  3. Yeah I was going to say Lord of Flies.

    And YMCA, Boy Scout’s, UMYF, high school, etc weren’t any better–and people I guess would say I was still in the good ole days?

  4. But of course–it was all my fault, I was too sensitive, couldn’t take a joke and etc etc–

  5. My Boyscout leader use to line us up in his basement and shoot us with his beebee gun for fun. Between that and watching boys getting “pants-ed” at the jamborees, it was…an experience. I managed to avoid the beebees and getting “pants-ed” as I ran too fast for ’em. The Eagle Scouts were sadists. They strutted around with their merit badges, much like prison camp guards. Boy Scouts is another of these Masonic gateway organizations, started by a Freemason of course. A lot of the symbols are occultic like the Fleur de li and the salute. They had rituals similar to Freemasonry and the Skull and Bones including “tap night” where selected boys were “tapped” hard in the chest at night by torchlight. It goes on…

  6. i want to know how to get on boys and girls alone.Because i want to have a taste of freedom.So please if u know just write up here and then i will read it thank you.

  7. boys and girls alone is not that good because it is bad you are letting 8 year olds smoke impart from that i want to go on your show

  8. why dont you try living on a farm then you will want to go on the program.All i am asking for is the bloody aplication OK!


  10. My brother was eagle scout by the time he was 13, so I had that hanging over my head. He said it was only to get out of the house. However my parents learned their lesson with him and hovered over me more, so only escape I had was books and my imagination.

    I knew scouting in England was to prepare the young men for the “white man’s burden” of empire, and similar here. Hadn’t thought of the masonic angle. I knew it was ritualistic, though I had heard it was tap on the shoulder for the eagle or whatever induction. Order of the Arrow? All these groups have the night torch ceremonies. Nazi’s, McCain and Obama towards the end of the sham-paign, etc

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  12. By placing black boys in a house alongside white girls, channel 4 is promoting unnatural unions, and corrupting these young children.

  13. Racist poppycock. That is not the issue at all. The issue is first this whole “reality TV” human zoo experimentation program where people (now including children) who are quite often psychological basket cases are all thrown together and forced to compete against each other like gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. The other general issue is getting people used to the idea of revealing all the private details and weaknesses of their lives to the world while they are conditioned to living under 24 hour surveillance by cameras. Then the specific issue is whether or not it is child abuse, which it certainly is.

  14. I stand by my earlier comment. I do not believe your decadent society is conducive to the well being of our children.

  15. First, you are failing to acknowledge the real issues involved. Second, all these kids are already acculturated into the society, black or white. Third, nobody said it wasn’t decadent, but where do you get on your high horse Francis Troy? What society do you hail from?

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