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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 17:02 GMT
Charities condemn Jackson
Michael Jackson
Jackson has children stay over at Neverland
Charities have condemned pop star Michael Jackson for telling a TV documentary that he let children stay in his bed.

The singer revealed his close friendships with children during the ITV1 special Living with Michael which aired in the UK on Tuesday.

He told interviewer Martin Bashir that he saw nothing wrong with children sleeping over at his Neverland mansion.

He also said a 12-year-old boy named Gavin had stayed in his bed while he slept on the floor, but admitted other children had slept in his bed with him.

Children's charity Barnado's said that if anyone in the UK had revealed similar circumstances then an investigation would be launched by the authorities.

Principal policy officer Pam Hibbert said: "At Barnardo's we feel it is totally inappropriate for an adult man to share a bed or bedroom with a child that is not his own.

His behaviour could be used as justification by people who want to harm or sexually abuse children as an excuse for their own behaviour

NSPCC spokesman
"One would expect most adults to recognise and acknowledge this - and understand the reasons why.

"One has to ask whether substantial wealth protects adults but not necessarily children."

Wrong message

Jackson, who likens himself to Peter Pan, was accused of child abuse in 1994 by a 13-year-old boy.

Although Jackson strenuously denies the allegations he paid the boy's parents $18m (11m) to drop a civil case.

What Jackson said
Why can't you share your bed? That's the most loving thing to do, to share your bed with someone

Michael Jackson
During the documentary Jackson said former child star Macaulay Culkin, his brother Kieran and their sisters had stayed in his bed with him.

Jackson said there was nothing improper about the arrangement.

But children's charity the NSPCC said Jackson was sending out the wrong message.

A spokesman said: "Michael Jackson says he has innocent intentions towards children.

"But his claims that he has shared his bed with many children who are not his own and it is 'what the whole world should do' sends out totally the wrong message to those whose intentions are anything but innocent.

Masked

"This behaviour could be used as justification by people who want to harm or sexually abuse children as an excuse for their own behaviour."
Michael Jackson
There was outcry when Jackson held his son over a balcony

There was also concern about the way Jackson is raising his own three children, Prince Michael, Paris and Prince Michael II.

None of them are allowed to leave the house without their faces being masked and do not attend a "normal" school.

Kidscape director Michele Elliott said: "Michael Jackson is a very talented musician but by his own admission, also very damaged by his childhood experiences.

"He has created a strange, unreal world and is populating it with his own children, whom he treats like toys.

"He doesn't seem to consider how his actions will impact on children."


Send your views on ITV1's interview with Michael Jackson in a Tonight specialJackson speaks
Your views on ITV1's Living with Michael Jackson
See also:

04 Feb 03 | Entertainment
04 Feb 03 | Entertainment
15 Nov 02 | Entertainment
19 Nov 02 | Entertainment
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