Do children read the Daily Mail? Do they listen to the BBC news? Probably some do, but if the NSPCC is really concerned about alerting children to the dangers of Paedophiles are there not more direct ways of making contact with children? Why the onslaught of advertising to adults?
Could it be that children are not that keen on donating their pocket money to pay the salaries of NSPCC employees?
I was so angry yesterday that I couldn’t bring myself to write of their latest ‘advertising campaign’. We are just two weeks into the appointment of their new ‘marketing manager’; Mike Parker, poached from C4, who is to lead an ‘adult focussed’ campaign – today I found myself explaining the tendentious language on the front page of our ‘delivered a day late’ Daily Mail in our local tabac. Could it really be true that a ‘child was sexually abused every 20 minutes in Britain’?
I was forced to say that unfortunately (you can place that word where you like in the following sentence) ‘Britain’ still currently includes Scotland, and the article contained no figures for Scotland (or Northern Ireland), so if the figures for the alleged ‘sexual abuse’ for those countries were included, the poor child was probably attacked more frequently than every 20 minutes. Things can get very literal when you are trying to translate Daily Mail headlines.
Then you have the problem of defining ‘a child’. According to the NSPCC figures, this includes those under the age of 18. Legally, this can be true, but it is hardly the image in most people’s mind when they speak of ‘a child’ being ‘sexually abused’. Nor is it the image that the NSPCC wish us to have in our minds – according to their advertising no paedophile ever uses mouthwash, their winsome 8 year old victims routinely reminisce about ‘his foul breath on my face’; and when uttering that well worn phrase ‘this will be our little secret’, they all whisper, never speak in a normal voice.
Consequently, when the Daily Mail come out with a headline like that, readers seriously imagine that 3 times an hour, an eight year old has been sexually brutalised by a 53 year year old man with a vast beer belly and the requisite ‘foul breath’. It does happen, and it always has happened, and it is a terrible thing when it does happen. Once is too often. Twice is unforgivable. But nothing about the NSPCCs campaign is going to prevent it happening. It will swell their coffers though.
It will also swell the mounting hysteria felt by parents across the land. More Father Christmas’ will be reported to the local Police station for ‘inappropriate touching’ as they reach across a small child to take another present out of the sack; music teachers will be suspended for ‘placing a hand inappropriately’ as they show a young child how to hold their guitar; fond fathers will be thrown out of the school swimming pool for taking photographs of their youngsters first attempt at the crawl – and that will help the genuine victims of incest and sexual abuse precisely how?
There is a rising tide of blood thirsty comments under the Mail article of the ‘castrate them’ and ‘execute them’ variety – and that will help the genuine victims of incest and sexual abuse precisely how? It may make the parents feel better, it may make the keyboard warriors feel better, but ‘castrate them’ or ‘execute them’ can only come after a child has already been abused, so that does nothing to protect the children. Too late.
None of us can control who or what we are sexually attracted to. Mr G is currently much taken with a woman who appears to be wearing the damp back-side of a new born Persian lamb, refashioned into a Stoat-fanciers flat cap, on top of her head – fortunately for me. But joking aside, we all have our preferences in these matters, and none of us can account for why or how they formed. So given that there are some in our society that are sexually attracted to children, what are we going to do about it?
If expecting them to lead a celibate life, recanting words of moral wisdom and biblical charm, the ‘thou shalt not’ route, was ever going to work, the Roman Catholic church wouldn’t have the problem it does. Even those who spend their life reading the bible and praying can’t manage that one.
If pouring money into the problem was going to work – then the blank cheque offered to those in charge of rehabilitating the ‘malleable’ Bulger duo would have turned out two charming and useful members of society only interested in willing and age accredited young fillies. Currently half the Bulger duo are back in prison and we aren’t allowed to know what the other half is up to, only that he hasn’t broken sufficient laws, so far, to be locked up again.
Ahh, cry the liberal elite, but they were already formed, aged 10, you have to attack the problem younger – give us another blank cheque and we will go into those deprived households and work miracles. Hmmn, so you are saying that paedophilia only occurs in financially deprived families? Really? I have to say you are wrong. I had a great childhood friend who committed suicide at 30 unable to live any longer with the knowledge that she had been sexually abused by her richly decorated top London surgeon grandfather. It was a very, very, well heeled household.
To say ‘they should be locked up for life’ doesn’t prevent the abuse that led them to the courts either. Nor does any amount of phone apps telling you where the convicted now live, nor CRB checks telling you where they work.
The only logical conclusion I can come to, is that society offer an alternative to offending in the first place. We did that for homosexuals, by repealing the law which made them offenders. I am not suggesting for one moment that we make child sex abuse legal, just asking you to consider that as a society we were able to say ‘is it fair and reasonable’ that those men who find themselves sexually attracted to a man should only be offered a straight (sic) choice between celibacy and criminality.
Wouldn’t a calm atmosphere, whereby it was acknowledged that some sexual urges are inappropriate and illegal, and that those who endure them can ask for, and receive, an alternative path in life, serve our children better? Whether that be by chemical means or a voluntary removal from society, in the same way that you can go to the Doctor and explain that you have voices in your head telling you to batter your Mother over the head, and receive societal support. Imagine a world where there was no mental health network, (I accept that what there is is pretty paltry) but nowhere you could go to, no one you could talk to, no magic potion that might drive the voices out of your head, no safe haven to retreat to for a few weeks. Imagine a world where the only future you could expect would be a maddened horde baying for your blood, and demanding that your right arm be cut off, when you did give in to the voices and batter your Mother?
We could save our opprobrium then for those who deliberately refused help, and might well be justified in calling for involuntary castration, as we do for sectioning for violent schizophrenics. We might also have saved several children from a terrible ordeal.
The NSPCC campaign is the very antithesis of this approach. By including in their figures every 15 year old found to be pregnant by her 19 year old boyfriend, every Eastern European found working in a brothel aged 17, it is about whipping up hysteria, not saving children from abuse. The NSPCC has been given a government grant of £11.2 million to fund Child-line, about the only activity that offers any practical help to abused children – and that is ‘after the horse has bolted’. They have said themselves, in respect of the disgraceful DVD that they recently posted out to ‘over 18s’:
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.
The advertising regulator has cleared them of any offence in respect of this DVD which appeared – from the outside – to contain footage of a child being abused, but in fact merely contained a note saying that the father was now in police custody and could-you-please-send-more-money.
The problem at the NSPCC was not managing decline, but success. Income had risen from about £30m in 1999 to £150m a decade later. When Flanagan arrived almost three years ago, the charity had 180 local outposts each staffed, he says, by three or four people.
I cannot find any evidence that they put so much as a penny piece into even researching any alternatives to the current ‘wait until abuse has occurred and then demonise the abuser’. You could almost be tempted to imagine that it might be contrary to their agenda if child sexual abuse did come to a full stop.