ISPCC campaign puts face on emotional abuse

A girl hugging her teddy stares into the camera and says: “I’m not just a stupid little bitch, I’m a nobody.”

She is the face behind the statistics released yesterday by a children’s charity who say emotional abuse is one of its biggest concerns.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is also worried that more than 800 calls for help go unanswered every day.

ISPCC chief executive Ashley Balbirnie said funding remained the charity’s biggest barrier to answering every call.

The ISPCC has launched its “Children Believe What They are Told” campaign to highlight emotional abuse.

With support from advertising agency Oglivy, the ISPCC have produced an online video and TV advertisement.

“The girl in our video encompasses the many stories we hear from children every day, children who experience feelings of worthlessness, who feel unloved and feel they do not deserve to be happy,” said Mr Balbirnie.

He said the print advertisements reflected the words used toward children.

“They are words that are harmful to self-esteem and feelings of self-worth, words that should never be spoken to any child,” he said.

In the video a little girl stares at the camera and declares: “I am a stupid little bitch. I should shut up moaning when I am left on my own at night.”

She goes on to describe herself as fat, ugly, and useless.

“I cry like a baby when I’m slapped. I’m horrible to have around. I don’t deserve to have any friends. I never do anything right.”

Mr Balbirnie said the confrontational style of the advertisements was designed to draw much needed attention to a growing issue.

ISPCC director of services Caroline O’Sullivan said that emotional abuse was an issue that permeated through most of the families that the charity worked with.

“Emotional abuse receives the least recognition and it is children who are saying it needs to be looked at.”

And, she said, such abuse went way beyond a row between a parent and a child over a particular issue, such as dying their hair or staying out late.

Childline has been talking to a 16-year-old girl for about four months now who is being told continuously that she is useless, hopeless, and worthless.

“She is now coming to the point where she recognises that it is not about her; that she is worthwhile and what has been happening to her is not OK.

“She has not told us who she is yet and we are not in a position to report the case to the relevant authorities because that is a choice she will make when she is ready.”

The girl is aware that, if Childline knows who she is, her case will be reported to the relevant authorities.

“In time, I am sure that she will tell us who she is, but she is not there yet.”

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