I posted recently about the children’s charity Barnardo’s and their ‘Children In Trouble’ campaign that used shock tactics to highlight the victimisation of young people in our culture. In addition to the ‘Hunting’ video I posted, last week their new TV ad hit the screens. It’s unpleasant viewing to be sure, but that’s the point.
However, many youth workers and professionals in the field have criticised Barnardo’s for taking this approach and I was pointed in the direction of an excellent Spiked article that calls into question the methods and motives used by Barnardo’s in their survey with the general public that originally produced their shocking statistics:
â€˜Most adults think children are feralâ€™, claimed the newspaper headlines, as if Barnardoâ€™s had uncovered a scientifically measurable prejudice against young people. In fact, Barnardoâ€™s put the following statement to its respondents: â€˜People refer to children as feral but I donâ€™t think they behave this way. Do you agree or disagree?â€™
Eh? Come again? I write and edit words for a living, and even I was bamboozled by this statement. Does one say agree or disagree to the first part (â€˜People refer to children as feralâ€™) or the second part (â€˜But I donâ€™t think they behave this wayâ€™)? It took me a couple of minutes to work out that I would say â€˜agreeâ€™. Forty-two per cent of respondents agreed with Barnardoâ€™s statement (that is, they agree that people refer to children as feral but donâ€™t think that is a useful description), while 45 per cent disagreed with Barnardoâ€™s statement, which presumably means they think children are in some way feral (at least I think it does; Iâ€™m confused again). Not surprisingly, 13 per cent said â€˜Donâ€™t knowâ€™, which was by far the highest â€˜Donâ€™t knowâ€™ response for the whole survey. If there had been a choice that said â€˜I have no idea what you are talking aboutâ€™, I imagine it would have been selected by, ooh, at least 20 per cent of the respondents.
So maybe this is true and maybe it isn’t but the point raised is that should Barnardo’s be using their position more responsibly to show young people in a positive light?