May 19, 2011

'I Can't Wait To Grow Up' - Support, Empower and Protect Children

I have debated with myself about blogging this because I know it has the potential to distress or upset some people. After listening to a radio show on the subject today I have been inspired to stand up for my convictions. I no longer feel it’s enough to say I support this campaign. I need to show I support it by posting the video to my blog.

Childline is a charity, and part of the ISPCC, set up to take calls, emails and text from children dealing with difficulty in their life when they feel they have no-one else they can turn to. This includes issues from school life, friendships and the everyday stresses of being a child in the 21st century to the most brutal cases of child abuse, self-harm and even suicide. They are there to support, empower and protect children.

Recently the ISPCC launched their summer campaign entitled ‘I Can’t Wait To Grow Up’. The campaign has caused controversy with calls for the video showing a young boy being beating while reciting the campaign message to the camera to be withdrawn. Some say the message that every child deserves a childhood that is happy and safe is lost in the graphic brutality of the video. The video is posted on Youtube, on the ISPCC’s homepage and airs on national television after the watershed(safe harbor).

While I was fortunate to grow up in a home where I never had to experience abuse, not everyone in my family was as fortunate and I have seen the effects abuse can have on a person first hand. This is an article from the Irish Examiner with a quote from a Childline volunteer.    

Disclaimer: Alan is my younger brother and his qualifications are a three year Degree in Anthropology and a two year Higher Diploma in Psychotherapy.  He is just one of many who give their time freely and selflessly to this worthwhile cause.

Just to stress again that Childline is not just about abuse. Any child in difficulty is invited to contact them.  

Sadly, 35% of calls go unanswered due to lack of funding. More than 2,300 contacts are made per day. 837,552 calls and 27,710 texts, emails and webchats. 13% of calls are linked to abuse and welfare issues. They have an annual budget of  €7m with only €600,000 coming from statutory funding. The rest is made up by fundraising. This year there has been a drop in donations by 4% but contacts have risen by 15%. €4,563,018 was raised in 2009.

Quote from ISPCC director of services, Caroline O’Sullivan.

“Our [financial] reserves are now as good as gone. We are okay for this year but Childline may not be around next year.”

It’s worth noting again that 239 contacts per day from children in a tiny country the size of Ireland are related to abuse and welfare issues. Maybe seeing those statistics it can be understood why the ISPCC took the decision to use this campaign video.

The boy in this video is seven-years-old and is not an actor but this is acting. This boy is not a victim of abuse but this scene is being played out every day all over this country and other countries around the world. It is graphic and may be distressing.

For those who wish to hear the message behind the campaign but do not want to view the video, here is Saoirse Ronan speaking on behalf of the ISPCC about what it means to be a child. 


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