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Parents up in arms over Executive's comic book
04/07/2007 The Irish News
A comic which aims to promote and defend the rights of children has been criticised by parents.
The Super Six, which is aimed at primary school pupils, focuses on issues including health, learning, environmental well-being and respect for the rights of children and young people.
The colourful comic is being distributed to every primary school-aged child, including copies in Irish for Irish-medium schools.
Ministers said the book, which introduces six new 'super heroes', was an excellent way of "engaging with primary school-aged children and to let them know how government is working for them".
Parents, however, say some of the stories are patronising and do nothing to promote a healthy self-image for children.
In one story, featuring super hero Herbie Healthy, a child in a school canteen is faced with menu selections that include tadpole soup, a horse burger and a dog burger. A chicken burger on the child's plate has a bird's foot sticking from it.
Another scene shows a television advertisement for a "wee muck burger", which has a bone sticking from it and a dog tag with the word "Rex".
Angry callers to The Irish News said their children were being given the impression that burgers were made from dog meat.
They added that other storylines were pandering to stereotype - a boy on a computer is portrayed as a glasses-wearing 'geek' but as soon as he goes outside to play football, his glasses fall off.
Another story featuring a different super hero - Sophie Safe - warns of the dangers of internet chat rooms but again parents criticised the comic claiming it was using scare tactics.
"It gives the impression that everyone on chat rooms are old men wanting to prey on young children. The story says the child is 'doing something dangerous' but that is not always the case," one caller said.
Launching the comic, junior minister Ian Paisley jnr said he believed children would relate well to the comic and its super hero characters.
He said the book would succeed in getting across important messages in a fun way.
However, one parent who asked to remain anonymous said they were not going to give their child the chance to relate to the publication.
"I have taken the comic off my child and I am not giving it back. It is ridiculous," they said.