Hurtful 'hunchback' comment

15th February 2013 at 00:00

May I draw your attention to the fact that Richard III suffered from scoliosis. It may or may not cause a pronounced rib hump, depending on its severity and whether it is accompanied by kyphosis. I object to the term "hunchback", used by TES ("On the naughty step", 8 February), because of its derogatory connotations that dehumanise and alienate sufferers.

My 14-year-old daughter has this condition. She has had surgery to try to correct it and faces revision surgery in the future. Now that media reporting of this high-profile discovery is connecting a curved spine to the negative term "hunchback", I fear a psychological backlash that could lead to name-calling or bullying for sufferers. As educators, we all know that labels can result in prejudicial thinking and can badly affect the self-perception and behaviour of the person who is labelled or stereotyped. Let us consign negative ones to the past, where they belong.

Caroline Duffy, English teacher, North London.

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