Sunday, November 21, 2010

CBBC's Kids and Conflict season starts tomorrow. The season is made up of the three-part drama Combat Kids, two Newsround Specials from Afghanistan presented by Sonali and a documentary, Toy Soldiers, looking at the lives of kids with a parent in the army.

It's been more than a week since Takeover Day, and I'm pleased to say that Newsround did get involved this year. CBBC should remember that it's supposed to be a day-long event, so kids should have been presenting the 7am bulletin onwards. But instead it seemed that there was an embargo until 5pm. Maybe we'll see more participation in future, but at least it was a start.

Newsround marked the start of Anti-Bullying Week with celebrities talking about school bullying. On Tuesday Lauren, from the Anti-Bullying Alliance answered questions on the Newsround website. On Wednesday CBBC transmitted a repeat of "Whose side are you on?" which was mentioned in my previous blog.

Despite a promise six months ago to tackle homophobic bullying, the Coalition Government failed to announce any new initiative during Anti-Bullying Week. However the Prime Minister, David Cameron, did send a message to young people:-

The Prime Minister's words are unlikely to have any significant effect on reducing homophobic bullying unless or until there is a broad-based change in attitude, especially in schools and on BBC children's TV. Whereas Newsround reported yesterday (noon bulletin) on David Cameron's concerns for the safety of the trapped miners in New Zealand, the programme has yet to report anything about his message to UK schoolkids.

The BBC's recent record on diversity is poor. In July 2008 I discovered evidence that a BBC children's message board devoted to bullying problems had been systematically filtering out messages related to help with homophobic bullying. Although that message board has now been closed, similar discrimination continues on BBC children's TV, and on the website.

LGBT History Month is just around the corner - a belated chance for the Government to announce some concrete proposals for tackling homophobic bullying, and in the intervening period an opportunity for CBBC to change for the better.

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