Thursday, March 30, 2006

The front page of this morning's Daily Mirror featured a story, which continued on pages 4 & 5, about a serious case of bullying. Bullies from a school in Southampton set up a website and posted rumours and untruths about a 12 year old boy who attended the school. Childline said it was the first example they had seen of cyberbullying, and that it was very disturbing.

The Mirror frontpage headline
So why wasn't this story reported on Newsround? After all, Newsround's editor says the programme is intended for 8-12 year olds and this boy was 12.

Newsround was amongst the first news programmes to expose the nasty phenomenon of mobile phone bullying or "happy slapping." And Newsround usually doesen't shy away from bullying news. On 21 February there was a report about a bullied girl in Blaenavon receiving compensation after enduring years of bullying, and Newsround carried a story about a girl bullied about her weight on 7 March.

Why wasn't this cyberbullying case reported? The answer becomes clear from reading the details in The Mirror story. Most of the taunting was about the boy's alleged gay sexual orientation - in other words homophobia was used as a means of tormenting the boy. And Newsround has never condemned homophobia or homophobic bullying. That was why Ian Prince and the Newsround team steered well clear.

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