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ONE ARM Kid TV Show Host Creates Controversy | Cerrie Burnell & CBeebies | BBC

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Uploaded on Feb 24, 2009

Parents defend BBC's Cerrie Burnell against claims she frightens children. | CBeebies | ------ [FEB 2009]

When a handful of parents complained that the host of a British children's television show was scaring young viewers, comments exploded on Internet message boards -- some so vicious they had to be removed.

Cerrie Burnell, 29, who was born with one arm, sparked heated message board debate after she was hired a month ago to appear on CBeebies, the BBC's digital children's channel.

One woman who called herself "Chiara's mum," wrote, "My daughter won't watch with the new presenters. She is only 2 and notices the lady's arm has gone. She thinks she is hurt every day."

One father said the show would give his daughter nightmares, and others said their children were too young to cope or even that the BBC was too aggressive in its policy to hire "minorities" to meet quotas.

Since the initial comments appeared, advocacy groups and parents of those born with "limb deficiencies" have seized on the story as a teachable moment.

"I find comments from complaining parents very hurtful," said Julie Detheridge of Coventry, whose 9-year-old son who was born without a right hand.

"Should my son be kept locked away in case he frightens someone?" she asked. "He is no less of a person just because he was born with part of his hand missing."

And today, commenters on the CBeebies Web site were overwhelmingly dismissive of what they called a "handful" of parents who were uncomfortable with Burnell's disability, likening their reaction to racial prejudice.

Burnell, who has a 4-month-old daughter and works as a teaching assistant at a special needs school, called the host's critics "small-minded."

"It can only be a good thing that parents are using me as a chance to talk disability with their children," Burnell told ABCNews.com. "It just goes to show how important it is to have positive disabled role models on CBeebies and television in general."

CONTINUE STORY: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id...

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