Sunday, 1 March 2009

Learned behaviour

Parents have been bombarding the BBC online message boards with angry posts. No, Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross haven't been presenting Big Cook Little Cook, although I'd pay my licence fee twice to see that. No, the target of their fury is Cerrie Burnell, the 29-year-old CBeebies presenter.
Cerrie is a warm, friendly, attractive young woman who happens to have been born without a hand. She takes her disability in her stride and has chosen not to wear a prosthetic arm.
What a shame the parents who have complained to the BBC can't be more accepting. They claim she has been 'scaring' their children. One dad has even banned his child from watching CBeebies altogether, stating that seeing a woman with one hand will give them 'nightmares'.
What a load of balamory. I doubt very much that the little ones who had tuned in to watch their favourite CBeebies programmes were instantly repelled by Cerrie. After all, they watch a slightly disturbing talking sponge and a group of unintelligible creatures with TV aerials sticking out of their heads with no apparent ill-effect. They should be able to cope with seeing another human being with a slight disability.
I suspect what happened is that their parents over reacted to the sight of Cerrie Burnell on their TV screens, and voiced their disgust to their offspring. Children are very susceptible to the power of suggestion, whether it's from their parents, their peers or their carers, and that's why it's up to us to ensure they don't fear, isolate or reject anyone who might be different to them.
The fact that some adults, who really should know better, think it's acceptable in 2009 to complain about a disabled TV presenter means that we really haven't made any progress, and that's very worrying. We all need to confront our own prejudices - and resist the temptation to pass them on to our children.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely spot on here Liz! Anybody who has expressed even the merest whisper of disgust, shock, uncertainty about Cerrie should be totally ashamed of themselves. Even if they just wish she wasn't on the screen. Disgraceful.

    I totally agree with you on this one.