Communications: Campaign of the week - Don't lose control, ads urgeparents

The NSPCC launched an anti-smacking drive last night to help parents of babies and toddlers maintain control when parental stress bites.

The £900,000 Hit Means Lost It campaign comprises TV and radio ads that will run for three weeks until 16 March. It also includes a book containing advice for parents on how to suppress their urge to hit out.

The ad, which was premiered on ITV last night, will appear on terrestrial and satellite channels across the UK. It shows a fast montage of people losing their temper in everyday situations such as using parking meters, in traffic jams and while attempting DIY. The final scene depicts a mother losing her temper and hitting her child. The ad fades out by showing the Hit Means Lost It slogan and the NSPCC's helpline number.

"Parenting can be hard work and stressful," said Keith Bradbrook, the charity's deputy director of communications. "We are trying to show people how easy it is to lose it and we are aiming to get parents to stop before they cross that line."

Bradbrook said the two radio ads share the matter-of-fact style of those on TV. The first focuses on a young child who says she has two mothers: one who plays with her and one who hits her. The second details a father's day at the zoo with his youngster. He says: "We'll see the giraffes and then you'll wind me up, I will lose it and hit you and then we'll see the polar bears."

The charity will back up the ads with its first pocket-sized anger management book, Keeping Your Cool, which follows the self-help style of The Little Book of Calm. "We're hoping this will prove popular and will add something extra to our leaflets on cruelty to babies and toddlers," said Bradbrook. "People should contact us for copies."

An information pack will be mailed to 50,000 committed individual campaigners to spread the message locally. The pack includes a poster of a woman taking a swipe at her child, to be placed in GPs' surgeries.

A survey will be sent to the media this week revealing how often and for what reasons parents lose their tempers with their offspring.

The end of the campaign will be boosted by the launch of the NSPCC's quarterly magazine, Your Family, which will cover the issue. It will be stocked in Woolworths stores from 18 March.

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