In January 2006 Newsround reported that Google was being censored in China, and they said that "Children in China won't be getting the full picture for some time to come" (see my blog for Thursday January 26th). Laura noticed, when she was in China, that children seemed afraid to speak freely. So you'd think the BBC would be against censorship. But listen to the second news item on Newsround yesterday -
Ellie: "The charity Childline says more of you are calling them about being bullied in school than ever before. They say last year a record 3000 young people a month needed help and advice after being picked on."
That was it. End of story as far as Newsround's tv programme was concerned. Their webpage has a little more detail on some aspects of the Childline report.
But Childline's actual report about bullying was titled - "Calls to ChildLine about sexual orientation, homophobia and homophobic bullying (ChildLine Casenotes)" and it's available for download here. It includes incidents from both primary and secondary school kids.
Childline's website says "The Casenote series is a set of studies based on analysis of calls to ChildLine. Each Casenote will focus on a different issue that is important or relevant to the children and young people calling the helpline."
Note that last bit - "issue that is important or relevant to the children and young people calling the helpline."
So why was the news censored in this way? I think one clue may be found right near the start of Childline's report (Section 1.2 - Methodology) where you will see the following:
"And if a young person called to say that she was comfortable being lesbian, but her parents were homophobic, the call would be classified under the heading ‘family relationship problems’ (because the problem is not with the caller’s sexual orientation, but with her parents’ lack of acceptance of it)."
It seems there is a problem with Newsround's lack of acceptance also.
In the case of Newsround it is BBC staff rather than parents who have the problem. It is looking increasingly like homophobia is endemic in the Corporation. Newsround needs some brave individual to stop going along with this discrimination and make a stand in favour of diversity, acceptance and inclusiveness.
Two of the key findings of the Childline report are:
Some young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people reported being triply isolated, with schools, friends and families all being unsupportive at best or overtly homophobic at worst.
ChildLine counsellors report that young people calling about their sexual orientation are often extremely lonely and isolated, and feel that they have nowhere else to turn.
The BBC's own diversity centre say that editors share an obligation to give adequate and meaningful consideration to diversity matters, and diversity should form a substantial element of editorial judgement (see blog 11 February 2006; also see blog of 29 December 2005 about the 1996 BBC producers' guidelines)
BBC - audience dialogue
Remember my blog dated 8 May 2006? Well I'll remind you that I was quoting from the BBC Statements of Programme Policy 2006/2007. The document says: "The BBC, as an open and transparent organisation which is trusted by the public it serves, seeks to engage its audiences in dialogue, to learn from them and to respond honestly to what they have to say."
That, if true, would be a very good thing. So, knowing Newsround's new editor is keen on blogs, last Thursday I emailed him a personal invitation to reply to the criticisms here in this blog and also to write the 100th blog entry which is due very shortly. A reminder was sent yesterday. I hope he will take up this opportunity to engage in dialogue and let us know whether he would like Newsround to become more inclusive than it has been up until now.