InQueery: Is MTV Canada Helping The Fight Against Bullying?

Posted on January 29, 2011 by

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[Guest Editorial by Rob Frenette of Bullying Canada.]

Bullying is something that we have all experienced at one time or another.  Some may be able to think back and recall the bruises they received as a child from the school-yard bully. Others can think of the pushing from an older sibling. Nowadays, even getting that weird look from a co-worker, or still, the faceless taunts from a bully who does not show themselves to torture through the internet, in the “new” cyber-bullying form.

I’ll be the first to say that progress has been made nationally with dealing with the issue of bullying.  Schools and students are taking a stand, workplaces and employees are setting policies and governments and civil servants are trying their hardest to determine the best route to take, whether that be legislation or other alternatives.

So when you turn on your television the last thing that would come to mind is a show that (in my opinion) spreads bullying across your glossy screen.  MTV Canada’s “Bully Beat Down” seems to think that their show is helping victims. The object of this show is to put a bully in the ring with a Martial Arts Artist; if the bully wins he or she gets to pocket $10, 000, if they lose the money goes to one of their victims.

As someone who was a victim of bullying for eleven and a half years, and the co-founder of a national anti-bullying organization, BullyingCanada, I cannot support MTV on their decision to air this program.

In a letter from Brad Schwartz, the Senior Vice-President of Much MTV Group, he states: “the premise of Bully Beatdown is to ask bullies to see how they measure up after taking on someone their own size, showing these bullies how silly they look when they are no longer the dominant person in a situation.  The result is that loud, cocky and aggressive bullies appear weak, unconfident and defensive.”

The anti-bullying effort has been an uphill battle.  I’ve been working the front lines of trying to not only improve the lives of students in New Brunswick but across Canada, and I feel that this show is hampering those efforts.

When this show aired I launched a complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) in hopes that they would agree with me in saying that this show is in violation of the Codes set by the CBSC.  This process all started in April of 2009.  The CBSC then reviewed this file and decided that MTV Canada was found to not have violated any sections of their Code and the show could go on as per usual.

I then appealed this decision to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), asking them to over-turn the CBSC’s decision, as I found out via the MTV Canada website that the show violated Section 3.1.1 of the CAB Violence Code.  The show had aired in a timeslot that was not allowed. The CRTC has had this file since June of 2010 and no verdict has been reached.

Bullying is something that affects us all and the delay that the CRTC is taking on this request is not only affecting Anti-Bullying Organizations from coast-to-coast, but also victims who feel that the show proclaims the message that bullying is ok, and that violence is the best answer to their problems. In taking so long to come to a verdict, I feel that it may hamper others in making complaints of their own, as those complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. The CRTC needs to take a stand and make a ruling.

Rob Frenette is an anti-bullying activist living in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

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Posted in: InQueery