Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Controversy over Cerrie Burnell's Arm

Last month in the United Kingdom. a silly controversy erupted over Cerrie Burnell, a co-host on a children's television show. Some parents were upset at the use of her on the show. They were not upset at anything she did or said, but the fact that she has a visible disability. Cerrie has a short arm which stops at the elbow.These parents felt that the sight of this would frighten their children and perhaps give them nightmares. These are probably those same parents who move their children away from a person with a disability in public. They are sending the unenlightened message to their children, that a disability is something to be ashamed of, to be feared, to be hidden away. Instead of shielding their children from disabilities, they should be exposing their children to disability, so that they can grow up with a better understanding and respect for people with disabilities. Children are curious by nature and want to know why a person with a disability is the way they are. Instead of squelching their curiosity. they should be encouraged to learn about people with disabilities. Education and awareness about disability is important to erase misconceptions, stereotypes, and just plain ignorance about disability. When I am out, children will ask what happened to me. I tell them with a smile and in a way they can understand. Most times, the children accept it and go on their merry way. It is my hope that I may have instilled in them a respect for those who are different because of a disability, and see that people with disabilities are not to be feared, or to be shunned. The television station should be applauded for putting Cerrie Burnell on the show, and those parents who are against her should be ashamed of themselves.


Jason G said...


I agree 100%. You said it all, so I nothing more here.


Kathie said...

I agree as well!! If we ever see you out, plan on having my children come up to you! I have always encouraged that and am quite happy to say, my children will not shun someone with a disability!! (but, they might try to climb on you and bring you flowers)

pauline said...

I've never heard anything so ludicrous. The fact that parents can complain about Cerrie is unfathomable to me. My children love Cerrie and with the exception of one initial question about why her arm is at it is, it's now never mentioned or even noticed. Parents with prejudices against people with disabilities can only raise children with the same prejudices. In our house it isn't an issue and so my children don't fear or judge. I'm not particularly PC, I don't defend things just to get on my soap box or to sound very open-minded or liberal, but this angered me because it's so nonsensical. Cerrie's disability has no bearing on her talent. Agh that made me mad!

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