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X Factor's 'ethos of nastiness' damages children

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    Posted: 20 Nov 2011 at 12:13
The Bullying Factor: Reality TV show's 'ethos of nastiness' damages children, says top school head

The X Factor is damaging children by glamorising bullying and arrogant behaviour, according to a leading headmistress.

The talent show encourages an ethos of ‘nastiness’ and ‘dog eat dog’ which is harmful to youngsters, warns Dr Helen Wright.

The explosion of such reality TV shows and the ‘easy celebrity’ culture they promote ‘strikes at the heart of the way we should be bringing our children up’, she will tell teachers and parents.

Dr Wright, president of the Girls’ Schools Association, singled out ITV’s The X Factor for the way it ‘encourages an ethos of nastiness and negativity’.
Her remarks were echoed by another education expert who claims that the examples set in the show have made disciplining pupils more difficult.

In a speech to the GSA conference in Bristol on Monday, Dr Wright, headmistress of St Mary’s Calne in Wiltshire, will warn that reality shows including The Only Way is Essex promote amoral messages and are ‘selling young people short’.

‘Bullying and arrogance are glamorised and become synonyms for ambition,’ she will say.

‘In The X Factor contestants are encouraged to be at each other’s throats – seemingly more so this year than ever.’

Her comments were backed by Alice Robinson, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, who claims controlling discipline in schools is now harder due to the poor role models seen on The X Factor.

Speaking of the judges’ decision twice to spare contestant Misha B from being booted off despite accusations of backstage bullying, she said: ‘Pupils see poor behaviour rewarded or overlooked. Perhaps the judges should be doing a greater service by saying “your behaviour was unacceptable and we’re going to vote you off”.

‘It just makes teaching and managing behaviour all that more difficult. That directly impacts on learning.’

On last Saturday’s show, 17-year-old Janet Devlin was left in tears when judge Gary Barlow savaged her performance. Dr Wright said it promoted the message ‘you can be mean and nasty and that’s kind of okay’.

‘It’s going to have an impact at a subliminal level,’ she said. ‘To be happy, you need to develop good relationships. That’s not what you see on X Factor.’

The Only Way is Essex, also on ITV, is characterised by drink-fuelled nights out and catfights between the women stars.

Dr Wright said: ‘It is not just the banal and mind-numbing nature of these copycat shows which is so undesirable – or the easy celebrity reality stars have achieved which can be attractive to children – but the amorality.’

Dr Aric Sigman, associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and author of The Spoilt Generation, echoed the criticisms, saying ‘overt biatchery’ between glamorous female judges sets a bad example to young girls, comparing it to ‘a bad car accident you can’t stop watching’.

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