Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bullying was in the news again today, thanks to an initiative by Beatbullying, called The Big Stand. Press Packer Azaan was bullied at primary school, where he endured insults about being fat as well as racist comments and behaviour. He told Newsround viewers:

The bullying started when I was five years old in primary school. It usually used to be a comment about how fat I am or things like that, and it would just be really bad and they would always say really mean names and push me about for it ..... There's always someone that you can tell.....that's all you need to do, just speak out and you'll be listened to.

Azaan's story was also reported by The Sun under a heading of Racist Bullying. But in The Sun he says: I was bullied in primary school because of my race, as well as my weight and my looks. As an Asian Muslim I have brown skin, and on various occasions I was called a ‘fat Paki’. Another time I was in the playground and a boy grabbed a religious chain I wore around my neck, threw it down and stamped on it. The experience left me traumatised because the bullying grew and grew until several people were involved....

Although the racist aspect of Azaan's bullying is touched upon in the press pack webpage report, racism wasn't mentioned at all on the Newsround programme itself. And just as it's a silly being "tough on crime" but not "tough on the causes of crime," the same applies to bullying.

At one time BBC children's programmes were prepared to tackle prejudice - often the cause of bullying. Now though, CBBC only appears willing to advise kids what to do after the bullying has started. Grange Hill used to face topics like racism head on. What we have now is programmes like M.I. High; fantasy with little or no relevance to real life problems and issues encountered by kids today.

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