Saturday, 11 September 2010

Big Mutha strikes back

Farewell Big Brother, it was nice knowing you. We'll miss your dominance over our summer viewing habits, your ever-fading relevance, and your increasingly obnoxious housemate selections. But most of all, we'll miss Davina.

For over a decade, she's been a regular TV staple, standing on that stage of a Friday night, bellowing into the camera, in an endless procession of unflattering black outfits. She may be responsible for a million broken volume buttons, but she's hard to dislike.

As well as genuinely loving the show that made her a household name, she seems to sincerely care about the contestants, no matter how awful they might appear. It's one of the reasons the nation took her to its heart, even forgiving her for some truly egregious career decisions.

But not everyone is so willing to give Davina the benefit of the doubt - especially the Daily Mail, which is today running a story about her irresponsible approach to parenting.

As a recovering addict, Davina has an obligation to give her kids an honest answer when they ask about drugs. Quite rightly, she feels that telling the truth is the only way to make it believable.

So when her eight-year old daughter Holly asked what drugs feel like, Davina told her "Heroin is so fantastic you’ll want to take it again, then you’ll get addicted, which is horrible." It's not like she gave the kid a burnt spoon to play with.

Unfortunately, her open-minded approach was too much for the Mail, which delighted in reporting on the "furious response" that she drew from David Raynes, head of the National Drugs Prevention Alliance. Although, to be honest, he doesn't sound that furious - he actually described the news as "very worrying".

Another Daily Mail staple (the grieving mother) has also been deployed, this time it's Maryon Stewart, whose daughter died last year after taking GBL. She said "I think that is an outrageous thing for someone to tell their children. It is important to highlight the dangers of drugs, but certainly not to tell someone how wonderful they think they are."

Interestingly, Maryon is "currently advising the government on how to educate children on the danger of drug use." Which is a little odd, given that she doesn't appear to have been too successful in steering her own child away from experimenting with Class As.

That's not intended to sound unkind - just to acknowledge the fact that one mother who has lost a child to drug abuse might not be in the best position to lecture other mothers on how they should be bringing up their kids.

Maryon's theory is that "If [Davina] wants to warn her children about drugs, she should be showing them what happens to heroin addicts." But that's the problem - as an ex-heroin user Davina is showing her kids just what does happen to some addicts. They're able to rebuild their lives and forge a successful future. Surely that's worthy of celebration rather than condemnation?

1 comment:

  1. Rather oddly, I seem to recall drug education at my secondary school involving a description of how the drugs made you feel. This went hand in hand with a description of how to take the drugs and their street names.
    It was then, however, followed by a description of the way that stopping taking the drugs would make you feel, including descriptions of the withdrawal symptoms from drugs like heroin; the delights of 'going cold-turkey'; and the unpleasant side effects of taking the drugs, from impotence and loss of sexual appetite to flash-backs and psychosis.
    All in all, I think it was a relatively sensible way to educate children about drugs. It wasn't scare-mongering or shock tactics, it was education. It assumed that the people being educated had a brain and that, once given all the facts, they would make a sensible, reasoned decision. Granted, I know that it didn't stop some of my peers smoking pot and it probably didn't stop them dabbling in something a bit stronger, but doubtless they would have tried it anyway and at least this way, they had been warned about what to expect, they knew the potential dangers of what they were doing and they had made an educated choice.
    Surely, that's all that you can ask? That children are given the facts in a sensible and non-threatening way so that they can make their own choices? Because when you give them the facts, you can't exactly miss out the bit that says 'all these drugs are illegal'?