ISPCC questions ban on abuse campaign video

A ROW has broken out between the ISPCC and the advertising standards watchdog over the banning of a campaign video highlighting child abuse.

The 40-second film, which features a young boy being slapped, dragged, pushed and kicked by a man, was deemed to breach the advertising code’s gender equality rules.

The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) has banned it from being shown on Irish media and it has been removed from the ISPCC website, although it can still be viewed on YouTube.

But the ISPCC said the focus of the film for the I Can’t Wait Until I Grow Up campaign, which began last May, was on the child victim and not on the perpetrator, so no issue was being made of whether the boy’s attacker was male or female.

ISPCC chief executive Ashley Balbirnie said the ASAI’s decision would make it difficult for the organisation to produce future materials on child abuse.

“We have two questions for the ASAI. Are they demanding that any future ads produced by the ISPCC showing abuse of a child must feature a woman perpetrator?

“Are they demanding that any future ads produced by the ISPCC showing abuse of a child must be made on the double showing both a male and a female perpetrator?”

The ASAI said in making the decision to ban the video, its complaints committee noted that this was the second advertisement in a six-month period where the abuser was male. It also received complaints about the organisation’s Christmas appeal ad, although it had not made a separate finding against that.

“The committee decided that in the absence of reliable statistics [proving or disproving that abusers were predominantly male], the portrayal of only a male character as the apparent abuser was in the breach of the provision of the code,” it said.

Frank Goodman, the chief executive of the ASAI, said: “The ISPCC can apply for a review of the decision if they consider that any of the procedures involved were deficient or that a decision was made against the weight of evidence.”

The ISPCC said it was considering appealing, but Mr Balbirnie warned that Ireland had already found out the hard way about the effects of not dealing openly with child abuse.

“We should be more concerned about children experiencing abuse like that depicted in the video and creating awareness around this, than whether or not the abuser is a man or a woman. Child abuse is still child abuse, whether it is at the hands of a man or a women, the damage to the child is the same.”

The ASAI’s code states that: “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.”

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