If this abuse were aimed at any other section of the community it would be classed as hate crime, says Dr Mick Wilkinson. And Joyce Hawthorn asks what of the children who appear
The death of a “guest” on the Jeremy Kyle Show (Jeremy Kyle Show suspended for its own protection, says boss of ITV, 15 May) should be seen in the context of an increasing tendency towards nastiness and vilification in public and media discourse aimed against working-class communities. Eight years on from the publication of Owen Jones’s Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, poverty p**n continues apace across a mainstream media dominated by public school elites. Benefits Britain, Benefits By the Sea, Saints and Scroungers, a ubiquitous Sun Bingo advert, a privately educated “comedian” portraying Vicky Pollard – “your common-or-garden teenage delinquent, the sort you can see hanging around any number of off-licences in Britain” as the BBC’s website presents her. It is not accidental that this tidal wave of negative caricature and stereotype dovetails with tabloid campaigns against “benefit cheats” and “bogus claimants”, and a government onslaught on welfare rights. If this abuse were aimed at any other section of the community it would be classed as hate crime.
Dr Mick Wilkinson
Lecturer in social justice, University of Hull
• As part of ITV’s review of the impact of the Jeremy Kyle Show on those participating, it is to be hoped that the effect on the children involved is also considered. It is a breach of any child’s basic human right to anonymity to have their personal details shared with the million viewers who watched the programme daily. While usually babies, the detail of their circumstances will undoubtedly be well remembered within their own communities. It is appalling that this level of public shaming has been allowed for as long as it has by ITV in the name of entertainment.