ISPCC ad – follow up

Todays Irish Times has a piece where  psychologist Marie Murray  is critical of the approach the ISPCC ad has taken in its new campaign, I can’t wait until I grow up,  (see yesterdays post to view the ad). The Irish Times says that:

She (Ms.Murray) described the use of such images to seek donations as “unfortunate”, and said it could paradoxically leave an organisation whose remit was the protection of children open to accusations of exploitation.

What she doesnt say is what the organisation should have done to highlight the issue of child abuse. The organisation has been doing similar/the same stuff for years now. And the reality is there is still shocking amounts of child abuse. I am not qualified enough to say if this is the right approach. But I would love to hear what Ms. Murray would propose as an alternative?

I was a little disappointed that the organisation didn’t consult some psychologists during the process. Maybe they would be better placed to dispute Ms.  Murray’s comments

The charity did give consideration to the impact of the ad before it was aired, Mr Byrne (Lloyd Byrne, Finance Director) said, but the opinion of a psychologist was not sought. “All we are doing is representing what children are saying to us,” he said.

You can read the full Irish Times piece here

You can view the ad here


8 thoughts on “ISPCC ad – follow up

  1. I hope ISPCC will pay no attention whatsoever to the irresponsible comments of a psychologist who doesn’t care whether their message works or not. Their responsibility is to motivate people to give so they can solve the problem — not endlessly swallow their tails with commentary and opinions, as if child abuse were just another academic topic.

    I found the ad powerful, hard to watch. The call to action is weak and should be more concrete and solution-oriented. I think it would work very well if they got that part of it in order.

    • Jeff…thanks for the comment. I agree the ad is hard to watch, yes call to action is weak. I am not sure if they knew what they wanted the ad to do (awareness v’s fundraising). I was interested by the comments the psychologist wrote, but frustrated at her problem no solution response.

  2. I am a therapist in Los Angeles and I have worked for over 20 yrs with abused children (12yrs with Homeless youth). The video was well made and accurate (if a bit mild) regarding what happens to kids who are trapped in the cycle of abuse. Ms. Murray’s comments sound under developed and conventional. Her concern for the negative emotional effect which might occur if the victim of child abuse (past or present) views the PSA feel excessive. She also ignores the positive impact it could have in these cases (1) alerts the child they are not alone, (2) prompt them to seek help (3) removes shame from the adult victim and (4) could prompt these adults to seek help. The idea that the agency is being exploitive by creating a video which accurately and mildly depicts child abuse… is absurd. Her comments regarding her concern for the child actor demonstrates her lack of understanding how films and videos are made… in fight scenes no actual violence occurs… it is all done with camera angles and editing. It was a powerful PSA, the issue needs to be talked about and addressed, and silly people (even those with degrees) need to assess what they say before they say it.

    • Robert, thanks so much for the comment. I am glad someone of your experience has made the point about the possible positives of the ad.

  3. The decision of the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland upheld the complaint about this fundraising campaign video, see below for text of the decision. Perhaps this video should be removed from your website.

    CC: 20/09/2011 CASE REPORT Batch No: 203
    Case Ref.: 16247
    Product: Non-Commercial (Fundraising)
    Advertiser: Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
    Medium: Internet
    Advertisement: The advertisement depicted acts of abuse including physical abuse on a child,
    perpetrated by a male figure, in the home. While the abuser is seen striking, shaking
    and throwing the child to the ground, he (the child) quotes from a manifesto of
    children’s rights as follows:
    “I can’t wait til I grow up,
    and have the right to be happy,
    to be kept safe,
    to be kept warm,
    to feel loved,
    to be listened to,
    to be heard,
    to never ever ever cower or tremble or shake,
    Or have my innocence punched or kicked or screamed away,
    I’ll fight for the rights of children like me, who don’t have a childhood.
    I can’t wait until I grow up.”
    The announcer then stated “Join the fight for children’s rights.”
    Complaint: Complainants objected to the advertisement on the basis that it was unbalanced in its
    treatment of the subject of abuse in the home. The advertisement only depicted a male
    as being the aggressor and the complainants considered this to be unbalanced.
    Some complainants also objected to the level of violence acted out on the child in the
    The advertisers set out that they were an advocacy service for children in Ireland and
    that they provide a range of independent and unique services that they considered to be
    preventative and empowering in nature.
    They said that in 2010 Childline received over 800,000 calls and answered over
    500,000 of these. Children contacted them for many reasons and 13% of calls
    received in 2010 were in relation to child abuse and welfare. Where children disclose
    to Childline that they are at risk of or have in fact been abused and have given
    identifying information, their case would be referred to the HSE or the Garda
    The ISPCC also operates Childfocus, Teenfocus and Leanbh. Childfocus and
    Teenfocus work with children in the home or other secure settings and Leanbh works
    with children that are homeless and begging on the streets of Dublin. All these
    services adhere to Children’s First Guidelines and practice mandatory reporting.
    They said that the campaign “I can’t wait to grow up” was based around a manifesto
    of children’s rights. The manifesto was written from a child’s perspective and the
    2 Case Ref.: 16247
    purpose of the advertisement was to raise awareness of the very tough and sensitive
    issue of child abuse in Ireland.
    In relation to the issues raised by the complainants, they said that the video made no
    reference to fathers or male partners, and they did not consider the advertisement
    discriminated against any person or persons.
    They confirmed that the child depicted in the video was not harmed in the making of
    the advertisement and his guardian was present during the video shoot.
    The Secretariat asked the advertisers to detail in relation to the calls received by
    Childline what percentage of the calls were from children of a similar age to the child
    in the advertisement and of those children calling what percentage were abused by
    While the advertisers provided further information regarding the Childline service and
    a profile breakdown of phone and online statistics from 2010, they were unable to
    provide the information required as this was not collected by them.
    The Secretariat checked independently and found that comprehensive independent
    statistics were not available for the type of child abuse illustrated.
    Code Sections: 1.6(c) The Code is applied in accordance with the following criteria: Compliance
    with the Code is assessed in the light of a marketing communication’s probable effect
    when taken as a whole and in context. Particular attention is paid to: • the
    characteristics of the likely audience, • the media by means of which the marketing
    communication is communicated, • the location and context of the marketing
    communication, • the nature of the advertised product and the nature, content and form
    of any associated material made available or action recommended to consumers.
    2.16 Marketing communications should respect the dignity of all persons and should
    avoid causing offence on grounds of gender, marital status, family status, sexual
    orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the traveller community.
    2.17 Marketing communications should respect the principle of the equality of men
    and women. They should avoid sex stereotyping and any exploitation or demeaning of
    men and women. Where appropriate, marketing communications should use generic
    terms that include both the masculine and feminine gender; for example, the term
    ‘business executive’ covers both men and women.
    2.24 A marketing communication should not mislead, or be likely to mislead, by
    inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.
    Conclusion: Complaints Upheld.
    The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the
    advertisers’ response. The Committee noted the sensitive and confidential nature of
    recording individual information from callers to the Childline service.
    They accepted that the level of violence portrayed while disturbing was realistic and
    3 Case Ref.: 16247
    that the primary message being conveyed in the advertising was the existence of this
    abuse. They also acknowledged the range of services provided by ISPCC.
    They noted that an earlier campaign for the Christmas appeal had also used a male
    figure and considered in the absence of reliable statistics, the portrayal of only male
    characters as the abusers was in breach of the provisions of the Code. The Committee
    upheld the complaints on the basis that without supporting evidence, the advertisement
    contravened Sections 2.16 and 2.17 of the Code.
    The advertisement must not appear in its current format again.

  4. Hi Owen,
    I hadnt read that the ASA had upheld any complaints against that ad, that really is an interesting development

  5. Hi Conor,

    Perhaps now you may wish to be dis-associated from this offensive video by deleting it from all of your web based media.



  6. Hi Owen,

    Thanks for your comment again. The video is still being hosted on the ISPCC you tube channel and as such still appears on my blog. This clearly means that the ASAI have not asked for it to be removed. The ISPCC have asked the ASAI to respond to some very good questions around the ad and what this means for them going forward. I have some issues of my own with the ad (which I have made clear) but I also think it is a shocking piece that makes you stop and think. If that stops children being hurt, or makes someone think about the fact that children can be hurt in Ireland in 2011, well Im all for that (arent you?).

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