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If I feel an NSPCC ad campaign is dreadful shouldn’t I be able to say?

I did leave a comment on the NSPCC’s Facebook page concerning its current “Have you seen Alex’s willy?” advertising campaign.

However, I can’t see my comment anywhere now and suspect that, because it was critical of the NSPCC, it was removed.

In light of the recent issues about freedom of speech and not being dictated to by anybody, I am posting it here as well where, hopefully, it will remain.

“Typical NSPCC amateurism. Message good (obviously) but the way you choose to deliver it is, as is often the case with you, highly questionable. Seriously, how many paedophiles are accessing shared kids’ photos of their bits and then contacting the original kid to show them theirs?!? I suppose it’s no worse than the cringeworthy ‘full stop’ idea which, thankfully, you appear to have dropped. I dread to think what campaign messages were rejected in favour of this one. I realise I am in the minority here, being male, and I’m sure that will be used against me but, as another guy has suggested, I would hate to be called Alex going into school the day after “Have you seen Alex’s willy?” has aired. What fun teenagers could have with this online. Let’s hope your message does not become self-fulfilling. And yes, I do have kids.”

Since then I have added this comment: “And anyone who has genuinely worked with vulnerable children, whether in social services or elsewhere, will know that 99.9% of abuse is done by people who know the child. Unfortunately, the NSPCC will not do a campaign saying “Does your uncle touch you through your underwear? Does your dad give you gifts to stay quiet about your bedtime games? Does mummy spend too long soaping your privates at bathtime? Does your PE teacher watch you getting changed?” No, it wouldn’t dare, preferring instead to opt for a populist campaign knowing that parents who do not understand where real abuse happens will think it is the most fantastic campaign ever (and some will even hand over their cash). I admit this is from a fictional TV programme but whoever wrote this about the USA got it spot on and I would apply it equally to the UK: “The Stranger Danger campaign caused major problems in child abduction… people went into schools and told kids all about a scary man in a trench coat hiding behind a tree. Then we learned that strangers are only a fraction of the offenders out there. Most are people you see every day… your family, neighbours, schoolteachers. We prepared them to look out for 1% of the danger and made them more vulnerable to the other 99%.”

Not surprisingly, I have had no response from the NSPCC and am not really expecting one since I am telling them something they don’t want to hear. And since this ad has had overwhelmingly good feedback from parents online, why would they listen? That shouldn’t make my point of view any less valid though.

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Rory Baxter, owner of The Word Factory, has decades of experience as a writer, editor, and public relations practitioner.

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