Thursday, April 17, 2008

GMTV - proud mum but sad little boy

Earlier in the week GMTV approached me as EO Media Coordinator, saying that tomorrow's programme has a feature on bullying (according to their website "Bullying - It's back to school after the Easter holidays, and new legislation to tackle bullying is set to take effect; will the new measures be enough?").

They asked if I could find a child who was bullied at primary school. They said that they usually get a big response to issues like this and they feel it is more helpful to have a child willing to talk, as other kids can identify more with them.

I agreed with them that it was a huge issue, and mentioned that bullying was one of the main reasons why my son Samuel was now home educated. After listening to that, the researcher asked if Samuel would be willing to go on.

Well, with my EO Media hat on I know how difficult it is to find volunteers for media appearances at the best of times - especially for live tv - and particularly on such a sensitive subject.

So I sat down and talked to Samuel. He decided a while ago to talk about his bullying when we talk to the press, because he has decided to stop being embarrassed about it and says that he hopes talking about it might help another kid one day to know about home ed.

This really makes me proud - Samuel was bullied to the point of self harming at 7, and also has Aspergers. Talking about such a painful thing, and trying to talk about feelings, is therefore doubly a big deal for him.

Samuel had a think and said that if he did it, might it help someone like him who was suffering at school and their mum and dad didn't know that home ed was legal till they watched him talk about it on television?

Samuel got very excited to think about how he could help others in his position and agreed to do the programme. The GMTVpeople told him he would have a chauffeured car come and pick him up at 6 in the morning and this morning he went with hisdad to get a haircut specially for his tv appearance.

Mid morning the phone rang and it was GMTV. Sorry but "the programme was not going to be structured such to allow them to do the interview" and they wouldn't need Samuel after all.

The poor lad is devastated. He really had to psych himself up for this. Now you and I know that this is just the way that things go, and it is of course a common risk in getting involved with the media - I am well aware of that. I also know that it was my decision as a parent to open him up to this possible hurt, by asking him (but then, if I am not prepared for myself and my family to take those risks, how can I ever have the right to pass on media requests asking others consider taking that risk?). But it is something that he is passionate about - stopping bullying - and I wanted to give him that chance. But despite all that, I'm still his mum, and it hurts me to see him so upset.

So I told him I would ask people if they would mind getting in touch with GMTV. If they are still going ahead with the feature on bullying, maybe if enough people phone or emailed, talking about home education, they *might* realise what an important issue it is and decide to come back to him - the reporter did ask to keep the details in order to maybe cover it in the future (but to be honest, I know this is just likely to be a line).

So, if you have any personal experience of bullying which contributed to your decision to home educate, maybe you wouldn't mind dropping them a line?

Both for the sake of the issue of home ed, and reaching those kids being bullied, and also - quite frankly - a personal wish to salvage something out of this for Samuel's self esteem (as he was still crying about it only recently), I'd really appreciate anyone able to do something.
If they feature bullying, it is anytime between 7.00-9.25am. at the bottom shows how to get in contact using web form - tick to say it is about a programme, then either "comment" or "your story"

or share you story on the message boards is for stuff on "today's programme" but it already has a sticky thread on bullying

Thanks for reading this far, and for indulging a mum with a very sad boy on her hands.


A Life Less Simple said...

I can't believe they'd do that! I will sent them an email.

If it helps in the mean time I work/volunteer for a community radio station and would be more than happy to arrange a phone interview about bullying, if it would cheer him up.
It wouldn't be like being on tele but I could let you know when it would be broadcast and you could listen online

ella said...

I'm a little late reading this but I've dropped them a line anyway (we home educate after my son was bullied).

I'm so sorry for your boy...