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The effects of media representation of Disability on childre

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katie hollis

on 18 March 2014

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Transcript of The effects of media representation of Disability on childre

Media's representation of Disability on children
By Katie Hollis, Emma Easter, Katie Stephens and Jen Norman
Representations of Mental Illness in Walt Disney Animated feature films
Representation of Disability on Children's Television Programmes
How Disability is portrayed through Children's Toys
Theorist Perspectives of Disability in the Media
• Impaired or disabled people are seen as the ‘the problem’ (Barnes, 1992)
• People are disabled by their impairments or difference, looking at what is ‘wrong’ with the person and not what they need.
• Disabilities or impairments should be ‘fixed’ with treatment, even when the impairment or difference does not cause pain or illness (Barnes and Mercer, 2010)

The Medical Model
The Social Model
Paul Hunt (1991) identified 10 stereotypes that the media use to portray disabled people:
- The disabled person as pitiable or pathetic
- An object of curiosity or violence
- Sinister or evil
- The super cripple
- As atmosphere
- Laughable
- His/her own worst enemy
- As a burden
- As Non-sexual
- Being unable to participate in daily life

Disability in the Media
A need to normalise attitudes towards disabled people

- Altered attitudes towards disabled people is necessary for social integration between able bodied and disabled individuals

- It is argued that for this to be successful, society needs to target those youngest in society in order to alter attitudes and beliefs about disabled people
(Dyson, 2005)

- Emphasizing the importance of us choosing Children's television programmes to evaluate how beliefs are constructed towards disabled people

Childrens TV and Disability
-social integration between able and disabled children is argued to improve self esteem of disabled children

-similarly seeing disability on TV programmes is said to improve self esteem
(Groce, 2005)

- Impact of family attitudes towards a child's view of disability
(Okagaki et al, 1998)

- Evidence shows children to recognise disability from a young age
(Favazza and Odom, 1997)

Statistics to Support
-Unrealistic representation of disability across children's TV programme's

-A need for TV to alter behavior towards displaying disabled characters to eradicate the separation
(Donaldson, 1981)

-Within British TV we only find 5% of children's programme's to include a disabled person
(Bond, 2013)

-Allowing us to question as to where childrens initial attitudes towards disability are developed

-Research does show that when a disabled character was present it did not give a true representation of disability in society
(Bond, 2013)
Case Study
-Cbeebies TV channel received complaints from parents when a presenter with one arm began appearing on childrens TV programme 'The Bedtime Hour'

-Cerrie Burnell who was born with a disability was argued to be 'scaring children' during her hour of presenting

-The complaints soon went public as a blog was created whereby parents were discussing their disgust about Cbeebies allowing such a woman to present

-Such evidence clearly emphasises societies stigma towards disability and how such beliefs are generated from a young age through the use of TV coverage

(Thomas, 2009)

"Share a Smile Becky" is the new friend of Barbie who comes seated in a bright hot-pink wheelchair.
She had strawberry-blond hair, not bleach blonde, wears a turquoise outfit with a white shirt underneath.

The doll, made by Mattel Inc. and sold at Toys "R" Us stores on 21st May 1997

(Wall Street Journal, 1997).
Wheelchair Becky
Halloween portrayal of Mental Illness
These products were on sale in both Tesco and Asda as Halloween costumes.
The title of the products were 'Psycho Ward Patient' and 'Mental Patient'.
The description on the costume read 'everyone will be running away from you in fear in this mental patient fancy dress'
Research by Lawson and Fouts (2004) found that until 2001 81.5% of Disney films made verbal reference to mental illness at least 4.6 times each film
21% of these references were to significant characters labeled as mentally ill
Main words used ‘crazy’ ‘mad’ ‘madness’ ‘nut’ ‘nutty’
Someone to fear and who should be locked away
These references make young viewers may learn to label and stereotype others using this terminology, thinking it appropriate and funny

Children who watch Disney animated films are at exposed to a greater level of mental illness than is typically seen on TV
Disney's animation films contain many images and references to madness. Given the enormous audience of children his films reach his work plays a major role in the creation of popular stereotypes of mental disorders
Disney and Mental Illness
Case Study- Beauty and the Beast
Can be classed as having Schizoid Personality Disorder- eccentric personality disorder
Definitions of Schizoid Personality Disorder
(NHS, 2012, Mind, 2013)
Show patterns of behaviors most people would regard as odd
Uninterested when receiving praise
Little desire to form close relationships especially sexual
Prefer to take part in activities that do not require interaction with other humans

Classed as ‘odd’ ‘not like us’ by the people in her village- people with this disorder are classed as a 'loner'
Constantly denies Gaston marriage showing behaviors of someone who has no interest in human relationships
Which is why she falls in love with the beast who is not a sexual threat
friends with cutlery and wardrobes
Can be seen to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Definitions of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Seen as selfish and ‘above yourself'
Feel upset if others ignore you and do not give you what you feel you deserve
Put your own needs before others and demand they do too
Resent other peoples successes
Rely on other people to recognise your worth
Need for admiration, and an inability to empathize with others
(NHS, 2012, Mind, 2013)

He romantically chased Belle, not because he loved her, but because she could make him look good.
Belle denied his marriage, he wasn’t upset because his heart was broken, he was upset that she humiliated him in front of his adoring audience.
 He went so far to get Belle that he had her father committed to an asylum, locked her in her basement, and tried to kill the Beast she actually cared for.

Young children who are educated in a more inclusive classroom environment are much more accepting of other children with disabilities (Diamond, 2001; Peck, et al., 1992 Cited in Trepanier-Street., et al, 2011).
Successful inclusion requires acceptance of the ability of the individual with a disability by all children both with or without disabilities.
Early research conducted in this area found that young children have a basic conceptual understanding of both physical and sensory disabilities (Conant & Budoff, 1983 Cited in Trepanier-Street., et al, 2011).
Recent research has found that the acceptance or rejection of an individual with a disability by children depends on the individuals characteristics and type of disability (Odom et al., 2006 Cited in Trepanier-Street., et al, 2011).

(Trepanier-Street., et al, 2011)

- 11 Million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability in Great Britain (Office for Disability Issues, 2014)

- Models designed to understand issues around disabilities

- They are constructed so that a situation can be looked at in different ways and in different circumstance

- The models are used as a framework for the government and society so strategies can be developed

- The model exposes the struggles that disabled people face

• Developed because the traditional medical model did not explain their personal experience of disability.

• Founding organisations UPIAS defines disability
‘Disability is the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organisation which
takes no or little account of people who have impairments and thus excludes them from the mainstream of
social activities’
UPIAS, 1976 cited in Barnes, 2002, p. 39).

• Excludes disabled by the way society is organised rather than by an individual’s impairment or difference.

• Rejects the notion of impairment as problematic, focusing instead on discrimination as the key obstacle
to a disabled person's quality of living (Crow, 1996)

• Disabling the barriers

• Attitudes, stereotypes and prejudice within society also stops disabled people from having equal opportunities to be
a part of society, known as ‘disablism’ (Barnes, 1992)

• Example:
The media enforces disabled stereotypes, portraying disabled people in a negative and
un-empowering way through images and language.

- A number of policies have emerged from these models;
• More involvement of disabled people in the media
• More equality in the work place and for disabled people to work in the media
• Guidelines within the media to avoid disablist imagery
- However, until comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation is in place,
disabled people will never be fully integrated into mainstream society (Hunt, 1991)

Disability in The Media
Barnes, C. (1992) Disabling Imagery and the Media. [online]
Available at: http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/Barnes-disabling-imagery.pdf
[Accessed 9th March, 2014].

Barnes, C. (2010) Exploring Disability: A Sociological Introduction. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Polity.

Bond, B.J. (2013). Physical Disability on Children's Television Programming: A Content Analysis. Early Education and Development. 24 (3), 408-418.

Crow, L. (1996) Including All of Our Lives: Renewing the social model of disability. [online] Available at: http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/Crow-exploring-the-divide-ch4.pdf [Accessed 9th March, 2014].

Donaldson, J. (1981). The visibility and image of handicap people on television. Exceptional Children. 47 (1), 413-416.

Dyson, V. (2005). Kindergarten children’s understanding of and attitudes towards people with disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. 24 (1), 95-100.

Favazza, P.C, & Odom, S.L. (1997). Promotion positive attitudes of kindergarten-age children toward people with disabilities. Exceptional Children. 63 (1), 405-419.

Groce, N.E. (2005). Summary Report: Violence against disabled children. New York, NY: United Nations.

Hunt, P. (1991) Discrimination: Disabled People and the Media. [online] Available at: http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/Barnes-Media.pdf
[Accessed 9th March, 2014].

Lawson, A. And Fouts, G. (2004) Mental Illness In Disney Films. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 49(5): 310-314.

Mind. (2013) Mind for Better Mental Health. Available at: http://www.mind.org.uk/ [Last Accessed 3rd March 2014].

NHS. (2012) Personality Disorder. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/CONDITIONS/PERSONALITY-DISORDER/Pages/Symptoms.aspx [Last Accessed 3rd March 2014].

Nursing Standard. (2013). Nurses to boycott Asda and Tesco over ‘blood and gore’ costumes. Nursing Standards. 28 (5), 12.

Office for Disability Issues. (2014) Disability facts and figures. [online] Available at: http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/disability-statistics-and-research/disability-facts-and-figures.php#gd [Accessed 9th March, 2014].

ProQuest. (1997). Mattel Inc.: New Barbie doll that uses wheelchair is introduced. Available at: http://search.proquest.com/docview/398545823?accountid=12118 [Last Accessed 3rd March 2014].

Terzi, L. (2004) The Social Model of Disability: A Philosophical Critique. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 21(2), pp. 141 – 156.

Thomas, L. (2009). One-armed presenter is scaring children, parents tell BBC. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1152466/One-armed-presenter-scaring-children-parents-tell-BBC.html. Last accessed 10th February 2014.

Tregaskis, C. (2002) Social Model Theory: the story so far. Disability & Society, (17)4, pp. 457–470.

Trepanier-Street, M., Hong, S., Silverman, K., Reynolds Keefer, L.,and Morris T. (2011) Young children without disabilities; Perception of peers with physical disabilities. Perceptions of peers with physical disabilities. 3 (2), 117-128.

Our presentation is going to focus upon the media coverage of disability, particularly looking at how children are presented with images of disability and how this affects their perception of physical and mental disability .

To do this we are going to look at Childrens Television programmes, Disney Animated Films, Childrens toys and link all these to the theoretical knowledge of disability.


To conclude, we believe that the media coverage of disability available to children, does perceive disability in a negative light.

Therefore, if media was giving a positive light of disability it would allow for an eradication of stigma in society and particularly for children, this altering their attitudes later in life.

Disney Wika (2014)
Disney Wika (2014)
Google Images
Google Images
Google Images
Google Images
Google Images
Google Images
Google Images
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