How the NSPCC faked child abuse stories to generate cash
Daily Mail (UK), 11th September 2007
Children's charity the NSPCC has become the latest high profile organisation to be involved in a faking scandal - this time with made-up examples of child abuse.
In a letter sent out to generate donations, the society used a number of shocking examples of cruelty to young people. These featured a young girl who rang the service and talked of a
baby-sitter "doing things to her she didn't like".
Shocking: But the NSPCC used made-up stories to get donations
Another described a boy's drunk and abusive father "punching" his step-mother. The distressing letter, sent to 200,000 supporters, looked like a genuine call transcript between operators and desperate children. But it has now emerged that the examples, used to raise cash donations for the telephone counselling service ChildLine, were made-up after several recipients complained to watchdogs about the "upsetting" content.
The Advertising Standards Authority slammed the NSPCC for its actions.
In a damning summary, it upheld the claims of three recipients who complained the letter looked like a genuine example taken from a case of a child who had been abused, which could cause distress to young children who might have picked them up. A spokesman for the watchdog said:
"We considered that in the absence of clarifying text the log sheet did not make clear that the details were examples of the type of calls received. We considered that some recipients could believe the log sheet was genuine and, because it could be the first thing they would see and it wasn't clear who it was from, the mailing could cause undue fear and distress."
Mum-of-three Kelly Winters, 34, from Gravesend, Kent, said:
"If any of my children had picked up these letters I would be very angry.
"They have some very graphic descriptions which could easily upset them. I can understand awareness of child abuse does need to be raised but to send out these blanket mailings without any thought for who might pick them up is negligent to say the least."
The NSPCC, famed for helping children who suffer the abuse of violent parents, said it would amend future mailings about ChildLine, which was launched by telly favourite Esther Rantzen in 1986 with the memorable 0800 11 11 slogan.
An NSPCC spokesman said:
“We have reviewed the ad and now believe it was not clear in the letter that the log sheet gave examples, rather than factual accounts, of the type of calls ChildLine volunteers received."