BERLIN — The German version of U.K. format “Baby Borrowers,” set to air next month on leading commercial broadcaster RTL, has triggered a storm of protest from politicians and children’s physicians and psychologists, who argue that the show endangers toddlers’ lives.
Preeming June 3, “Erwachsen auf Probe” (which translates roughly to “Temporarily Adult”) places infants and small children in the care of four teenage couples, and under RTL’s cameras, for several days.
Gitta Trauernicht, Schleswig-Holstein state minister for social affairs, health, family, youth and senior citizens, has pledged to stop the docusoap skein from airing.
“I will take every possible action to prevent this,” says Trauernicht, who has already filed a complaint with Germany’s Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media and is lobbying for legislation that would make it illegal for such shows to air on Teutonic TV.
RTL maintains the infants participating in the format, which also aired Stateside on NBC, were safe at all times. Their parents lived on location near the houses where the teen families stayed during the shooting and a trained nanny was present in each of the households.
In addition, net says, the teen couples had plenty of parenting practice with lifelike baby dolls in the run up to the show.
The broadcaster stresses that the mothers who lent their babies to the show did so “out of conviction.”
But the skein, produced by U.K.-based Love Prods. in Blighty and the U.S. and Tresor TV in Germany, has raised the ire of doctors and psychologists, who say separating young children from their mothers and placing them with teenagers could cause lasting trauma to the infants.
Leonhard Thun-Hohenstein, a child psychiatrist at Salzburg U., wrote a letter of protest to RTL.
“For the teenagers it’s a game without the essential foundation: the relationship to the child,” Thun-Hohenstein told daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. “The child will simply be borrowed as a test object and abused by this experiment.”