Advertising Standards Authority bans NSPCC advert for using out-of-date statistics

Claim that one in six children is abused is based on a survey nine years ago

An NSPCC advertising campaign has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for containing statistics that are almost a decade out of date.

The advertising watchdog received six complaints about the national press advertisement, which claimed "one in six children in the UK are sexually abused. Help stop it."

The figure was contained in the NSPCC report Child Maltreatment in the United Kingdom, which was published in 2000 and based on interviews with 2,869 people aged between 18 and 24.

The ASA ruled that the advert breached its codes on substantiation and truthfulness and must not appear again.

Its ruling stated: "We considered the claim 'one in six children in the UK are sexually abused' was likely to be seen to be derived from current figures and to represent the prevalence of ongoing sexual abuse at the time the ad appeared.  

"We were also concerned that the ad did not clarify the definition of sexual abuse on which the claim was based."

A spokesman for the NSPCC said: "We have accepted the ruling from the ASA. Our study Child Maltreatment in the United Kingdom is an authoritative piece of research that is held in high regard and has been cited in numerous journals and parliamentary debates.

"The fieldwork was carried out in 1998/99 and the final report published a year later. At the time it provided - and still provides - the best estimate of the prevalance of child abuse in the UK.

"We are currently in the process of carrying out a second prevalence study that will update and add to the earlier report."

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