Hard-hitting sexual abuse mailing given all-clear

The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a complaint about descriptions of sexual abuse in a Barnardo's mail pack.

The complainant said the mailing had been sent to his 89-year old mother in law and said it was offensive, distressing and unsuitable for an unsolicited mailing because it contained overly graphic descriptions of sexual abuse.

The pack included a letter from Claire, a sexual exploitation project worker, and included a warning that it contained sensitive material and wasn’t suitable for children.

The letter said: “I hope you will forgive me for writing today anonymously and for describing some deeply troubling issues which I know are upsetting. The children I work with are victims of sexual exploitation.”

It asked recipients to donate £150 to help the charity protect vulnerable children from the sexual exploitation and said that the life of one victim was ruined when she and her best friend were gang-raped by an uncle and his friends when they were nine.

The mailing also contained a copy of a handwritten extract from Marie’s diary, which described what happened to her.

The ASA found that the mailing did not break rules on responsible advertising, decency and fear and distress.

The report stated: “Because Barnardo’s had taken steps to target their mailing, and had included warnings about the potentially upsetting content, we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, or cause undue fear or distress.”

A Barnardo’s spokesperson said: “The story featured in the mailing is a true story taken from the diary of just one of the many young people we work with who have been sexually exploited. We realise that the subject matter is a hard hitting one, but this is the reality faced by some young people today.”

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