Friday 15 June 2012

Insensitive bullying by council closes down child's 'School Dinner' blog

Argyle and Bute Borough Council are getting a hard and fast lesson on 'The Streisand Effect' this morning after stepping in to stop a child blogging about her school dinner.

9 year old Martha Payne writes (or at least 'wrote') an entertaining light-hearted blog detailing her daily lunch. Well written and entertaining (even on occasions when she forgot her camera and had to hand-draw her meal with the cutest illustrations ever), Martha's blog was fairly innocuous but the powers that be deemed it 'harmful to the council's reputation and undermining services offered in council-run schools'.

Martha was hauled out of her lessons one morning, taken to the head teacher's office and told to cease and desist her blog, and cease taking photos of her lunch (Martha's dad explained on the blog that it was not the school's decision, and that they had actually been quite supportive of Martha and her blog, the decision was purely Argyle and Bute Council's).

A petition has already sprung up to try and reverse the decision. Martha's blog wasn't just a school dinner blog, it also involved raising money for food charities around the world to feed the starving (and a separate JustGiving account has been set up to help Martha reach her 2K target. Somehow I think she's going to manage it!)

The media has exploded with this story. The Daily Telegraph contacted Argyle and Bute Council for comment (they refused) and Jay Rayner, Food Critic, got in touch with someone at the Council Offices to confirm the decision and they did (as doubts were raised whether a council would be this stupidly heavy handed - guess what folks, this is the UK, of course they would!)

It seems a real shame that a child can start up a fairly well-meaning (and quite funny) blog, and get jumped on like this, in an era when the press would have you believe that most kids can't string two words together without resorting to txt spk. Go Martha. You rock, and I really hope that this continues to blow up spectacularly in Argyle and Bute Borough Council's face. With the amount of coverage it's getting on Twitter and Facebook, there are going to be a lot of red faces at the council offices this morning.