What the heck? CBeebies controversy in England

by Jen Reeves on February 25, 2009 · 13 comments

in 2009, Disabilities

I have been pretty busy at work… and I’ve been a bit behind on all of the email discussions from the Sammy’s Friends group. What I missed was a controversy that is brewing in England about this woman:

host

This is Cerrie Burnell. She’s had the job of helping host a children’s program on BBC for the last month. Since then a number of British media outlets say parents are complaining about her participation on the show. An article on the Mail Online say Cerrie scares their children. I visited the show’s website and found a whole string of people talking on the discussion boards with horribly ignorant reactions to her appearance on the show. Here’s an example of some of the comments:

“I understand that in todays society we have to be politically correct. But how do you explain to a three year old child why the one of the presenters has half an arm. She was extremely upset and confused by this and continues to ask questions.”

What? Ask questions! That isn’t a bad thing. What parent considers a child’s questions as a bad thing? The child keeps asking questions because that parent is ignoring the question. Help our kids understand differences are okay!

No really.

More and more websites are mentioning the reaction to Burnell’s arrival to the show. I happened to join a Facebook group with 19,000+ members just so I feel better. But then I went inside the discussion groups on that page and found the same exact bias. I’m trying to not get enraged to a level that isn’t productive. I realize there will always be a set of adults who are unable to understand that a limb difference is not the end of the world. I know it isn’t something we’re all used to seeing all the time. But it isn’t a horrifying thing. It is different, but we’re all different. I wear glasses. My son has a wacky skin virus that left little bumps on his check that will go away some day. Randy is losing his hair. Seriously. No one is perfect.

Get. Over. It.

So, I’m sad. I’m disappointed. And I realize this isn’t the first or last time I’ll hear this kind of attitude. I’ll just continue to do my best to educate the people around my world. I’ll make sure Jordan is confident about herself. I’ll continue to speak out against discrimination and hope I can help at least one or two people understand Jordan, Cerrie and so many people aren’t so different.

UPDATE: I had three calls and two emails this morning after the Today Show┬ádid a story on this controversy. I even felt the need to leave a comment on the Today’s Show’s discussion board. I welcome any and all to rally together and help people living in the United States, England and around the world that limb differences are okay!

email

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Nina February 26, 2009 at 5:10 am

It is really sad and pathetic that there are people out there that think of limb differences (or any other difference) is horrifying. It breaks my heart to think that Jordan, Taylor, Cerrie and anyone else with a limb difference will have to deal with such ignorant and foolish people like this throughout their lives.

Randy February 26, 2009 at 8:15 am

I’m losing my hair? Oh no….

NerdyMom February 26, 2009 at 8:28 am

Doughnut head. ;-)

Ryan February 26, 2009 at 10:57 am

That comment from the message board just blew me away.

How do you explain it to a three year old? You say, “That’s just the way she was made. Kind of like how you have blue eyes and I have brown eyes.” That’s it.

Most three-year olds would be more than happy with that ‘explanation’. If only the ‘grown ups’ were, too.

Knuckles February 26, 2009 at 1:45 pm

I thought I would follow your lead and jump on this bandwagon but writing about this story on my blog. I will leave a message on the message boards about this , but I am still trying to find the best, most thought out response. Which is something I am not good at when I get worked up about something :)

Crista from Kentucky February 27, 2009 at 4:03 am

Hey there,

I’m so glad you keep up on all the latest and take the time to post things like this. Thank you. This is like my news site for limb differences issues around the world!

My son Keenan was in the bathtub the other night and looked down at his arm and said, “Mommy, I love my little fingers.” On another occasion a couple weeks ago he commented that he loved his little arm. I would like to capture this moment in a bottle. At this point in his life, without any tainting by others, he is not only confident and at peace about his appearance, he loves it! He has attended preschool since 6 months of age and the kids and teachers there know him and love him for who he is, just like we do here at home.

Every night, as the ending to our prayer, we say this together, “God, please protect our bodies, our minds, our spirits and our souls.” As parents, we realize there is no doubt that some people will be ‘less than accepting’ of this small difference and try to make it into a big deal or say cruel things. However, I hope and pray that Jordan, Keenan, and so many others’ “bright spirits” will be shielded so that those things will bounce right off without dampening the true joy they exuberate at this time in their lives.

On a lighter note, Keenan (3) and Carmen (2) were taking a bath together Tuesday night and while he was lathering up, he said, “Mom, we’re washing our bodies, our minds, our spirits and our souls.” :-)

Love,
Crista

Michelle February 27, 2009 at 11:34 am

Thank you for posting this. I will likely do the same on my blog as well. I do plan to write to the Today Show as well.

The ignorance of the masses never ceases to amaze me.

Student of Life February 27, 2009 at 12:39 pm

I can’t even fathom thinking that questions from your child are bad in any way. Sure, some questions don’t come with easy answers, but this is how our children learn about their world. This fires me up. I can’t imagine how fired up you are.

NerdyMom February 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I’m super fired up… Not exactly sure how to really reach out to the general public and get more information and share the knowledge that I and many other parents and limb different adults know already: A missing piece of limb isn’t scary! Ahhhhhh! I could just scream.

TwinPowerMommy(Candice) February 27, 2009 at 4:15 pm

That has got to be the dumbest thing i have seen. I cannot believe there”s even an issue!!!
I just don’t understand why explaining to a 3, 13 or 30 year old why someone has a limb difference, special need or whatnot, would be anything other than just a simple explanation.
I wanna scream with you! How absurd people can be!

Seeker March 2, 2009 at 5:42 am

I have done a couple of posts about this on my site. Take a look at some of the comments on the Daily Mail article that I have posted! Some of them beggar belief!

Beth March 22, 2009 at 9:24 am

I’m still upset about this.

In fact, I can’t even go there. >:/

Janine April 3, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Crista, I love what you shared…no matter what we look like, we are all human with feelings, dreams, and desires of acceptance and love. What the world needs to know is that Jesus shed his blood for us, loves everyone, and we are supposed to love each other as Jesus loves us(unconditionally) and accept each other for our character, and kindness of heart, rather than for our looks.

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