Let’s call a full stop to NSPCC propaganda

editor Mick Hume's Notebook in The Times (London).>

Mick Hume

Mick Hume

Topics Politics
  • What do you think about child abuse? Personally I am against it, but everybody is entitled to their opinion.

It is a stupid, insensitive question, of course. That has not prevented the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) asking it. As part of Full Stop Week, the NSPCC has sent out nine million surveys designed to ‘educate people on things they may not know and find out their attitudes towards abuse’.

This is what is called advocacy research. The aim is not to explore the unknown, but to come up with some numbers to support your pre-existing dogma. The questions in the NSPCC survey are predictably loaded so as to ‘educate people’ in the charity’s own prejudices – that child abuse is more prevalent than we think, and that shouting at, smacking or criticising a child can be seen as abuse alongside paedophilia.

The letter accompanying the survey admits that ‘we just want to know if our message is getting across’. That message is that children are at risk from their parents, and that the NSPCC is here to save them.

Expensive PR campaigns such as Full Stop have no effect on the small number of serious cases of violent abuse and child killing. But they do spread a poisonous message of mistrust. With cute slogans such as ‘Stop parents getting away with murder’, and publicity warning that abusers are often those whom children trust the most, perhaps the NSPCC should be renamed the National Society for the Persecution of Child Carers, or the Promulgation of Calumnies about Childhood.

To justify its empire-building, the NSPCC insists that a hidden iceberg of child abuse lurks below society’s surface. Launching its latest campaign, ‘Talk ’til it stops’, the charity’s director even suggested ‘it is likely that each of us will either know a child we suspect is being abused or know someone who does’.

It might seem a wonder that there are any unmolested children left in our schools. ‘Talk ’til it stops’ encourages us to tell others – and its helpline – about any suspicions of abuse. The NSPCC is also training a quarter of a million school dinner ladies and playground supervisors to look out for signs of child abuse.

The notion that talking about child abuse remains taboo is perverse. In reality we are subjected to a barrage of repulsive propaganda implying that it is everywhere. Yet when many appear willing to believe the worst of others, the NSPCC’s campaigns are treated as beyond criticism. Who wants to be thought of as soft on child abuse?

As one concerned about the world in which my children grow up, however, I propose an alternative to ‘Talk ’til it stops’. Let’s stop talking about parents and child-carers as abusers and potential murderers, and tell the NSPCC to stop fiddling with statistics and abusing trust in order to ‘educate people’ in such misanthropic myths.

  • Until recently, no living person could appear on a Royal Mail stamp except royals.

The first to appear were, naturally enough, Sir Edmund Hillary and the drummer from Queen. Now a ground-breaking set features England’s cricketers, thus placing Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff on a more elevated plane than Winston Churchill or Neil Armstrong. The Royal Mail’s excuse is that ‘an Ashes victory is arguably the greatest prize in sport ‘. A marvellous word, ‘arguably’. I have no wish to defend the present system; as for putting redundant royals on stamps, Off With Their Heads. But the historic elevation of some cricketers whom few had heard of before the summer does say something about the faddism of today. Who’s next for first-class treatment – the winner of I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here, arguably the greatest prize on TV?

  • Barry Marshall, an Australian researcher, has belatedly been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for proving, by deliberately infecting himself, that most ulcers are caused by a bacterium rather than stress or a poor diet, and can be treated with antibiotics.

His heroic act of apparent lunacy has helped to save many of us from a lifetime of misery guts. While ‘safety first and last’ now seems to be a law of scientific inquiry, Marshall showed a pioneering spirit that can change the world. Never mind King Freddie of England – put Barry the barmy Aussie on a stamp.

Mick Hume is editor of spiked
This article is republished from The Times (London)

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


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