Regulator clears NSPCC publicity


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The Independent Online

Publicity for children's charity the NSPCC has been cleared by the advertising regulator after complainants described its reference to child abuse as "disturbing and offensive".

The DVD case, sent as a direct mailing in December, featured text stating: "Kerry's father asked her to do the unthinkable. And then he filmed it."

A leaflet inside the DVD said: "The footage of Kerry is now with the police. As is her father, because she was able to talk to ChildLine."

Seven complainants objected that the text on the cover was disturbing and offensive while another said it could cause distress to individuals who had suffered abuse.

Another said the case was inappropriate for children to see.

Defending the wording, the NSPCC said it relied on mailings generating a good level of response from donors and it was therefore important that they stood out.

It was its policy to be truthful about its services and the challenges faced by children and young people, but the wording on the outside of the DVD did not contain details of abuse, the charity added.

The mailing was only addressed to individuals over the age of 18 and had been sealed so that it was difficult for younger children to open.

Rejecting the complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the NSPCC aimed to raise awareness about child abuse and such a distressing subject was likely to cause discomfort when presented in any medium.

It added: "Nevertheless, we took the view that any discomfort inherent in the subject of child abuse ought to be balanced by the worthwhile purpose of raising awareness of it.

"We considered that recipients were likely to understand the importance of the issue the mailing presented and that individuals who had suffered abuse would be likely to appreciate the work of the NSPCC and the message contained within it.

"We considered that the ad made clear its intended purpose, but was not likely to cause excessive distress or serious or widespread offence."

An NSPCC spokesman said: "We welcome the decision from the ASA.

"We regret that there were a few complaints about this but we recognise that some people will be sensitive to the difficult and complex issues of child abuse."