Barnardo's ad will do more harm than good, says bullying charity

Beatbullying has accused Barnardo's of "fuelling hysteria" with its latest campaign, which features an internet advert showing a group of men firing shotguns at teenagers and calling them "vermin".

The anti-bullying charity said the campaign, intended to challenge negative attitudes to young people, risked doing more harm than good.

Emma-Jane Cross, chief executive of Beatbullying, said Barnardo's was using dangerous tactics.

"The campaign aims to highlight misconceptions, but runs the risk of fuelling hysteria and stereotyping about our youth," she said.

"We cannot pretend the positive messages Barnardo's wanted to communicate have been heard. The headlines screamed of adults' fear of 'feral' children infesting our streets. It is disturbing that young people will see these terrifying adverts, especially because another Barnardo's poll shows that 44 per cent of young people say bad behaviour is encouraged when the media portrays them as misbehaving."

A Barnardo's spokes-woman said Beatbullying's comments were misguided because its poll and online film were clearly focused on how adults view children and did not show young people in a negative light.

"The facts and figures speak for themselves," she said. "The majority of children make positive contributions to their communities and we have highlighted this throughout the campaign."

Cross also challenged the YouGov poll Barnardo's commissioned for the campaign, which found that 53 per cent of adults felt children were starting to behave like animals.

"We question why an organisation with such belief in children would run a six-question poll of mostly negative statements that seemed to elicit negative and perhaps unjustified conclusions about young people," she said.

"I wonder if there would be more outrage if an organisation had put out a questionnaire or advert describing another sector of society in this manner, or is it more acceptable because it is voiceless children who are targeted?"

OTHER VIEWS ...

- 'It holds a mirror to the British public, showing the loathing our society has for children' - Carolyne Willow, national coordinator, Children's Rights Alliance for England

- 'It's a brave way to do it' - Polly Neate, executive director of public affairs and communications, Action for Children

- 'Used as part of a wider argument, this approach has a part to play' - Anne Longfield, chief executive, 4Children

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