Saturday, January 20, 2007

Newsround bullying news

Big Brother made news headlines this week. Jade Goody was criticised for the way she behaved towards Shilpa, a celebrity actress from India. Last Tuesday Newsround included an interview with Louise Burfitt-Dons who explained why Jade has been dropped from her anti-bullying charity. Newsround's website asked Have you ever been picked on because you're different?, and on Wednesday Ellie said "loads of you" have replied. Laura then read out a small selection of viewers' emails and texts on the topic.

Although it seems that Newsround have slightly relaxed the age discrimination policy, the website statement which claims that they'll "try and put up as many e-mails as possible" is still untrue. Age discrimination has not been abolished, and the lgbt discrimination is as bad as it's always been.

Given that homophobic bullying is extremely common in UK schools, at least on a par with problems of racism, the chances that no one would have emailed or texted in about it are minimal. All responses like that were simply ignored or thrown in the bin. But if you look at this ChildLine page you can see that "being ignored and left out" is itself a form of bullying. So we can say with reasonable confidence that Newsround is a bully and sets a bad example to kids.

If, by any remote stretch of the imagination, Newsround didn't actually receive a single response about homophobic bullying then it's likely because children are learning that CBBC discriminates and has no time for meaningful diversity. Look at the first line of a post last month to one of the Newsround messageboards and you can see exactly what I mean:

I know this can be a sensitive subject and i'm probably not going to be allowed to post this thread here, but we were discussing this the other day so i thought i'd see what all you lot think.

The post, which was called "Gay rights" mysteriously vanished a few hours later along with replies on the thread. (blog 29 December 2006). I am still trying to get an explanation for what happened, but at the moment it looks like more anti-gay prejudice.

It's quite possible that some young people are picking up on these negative signals which they see as justifying their own homophobic attitudes.

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