“Prevention is better than cure” this is a quote attributed to the 15th century Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam.
Preventing child abuse and sexual exploitation has been a pivotal goal for the NWG Network since its inception back in 2012, our mission statement is:
“To assist in the eradication of the exploitation and/or modern slavery of children and young people”
In order for our organisation to meet this goal we need to communicate across many differing mediums to ensure our message is heard loud and clear. Raising awareness of child abuse can be difficult and often is seen as a “taboo” subject, this does provide difficulties in engaging the wider public with this subject in a meaningful and constructive manner.
Recently we have seen the global rise of the hashtag #MeToo highlighting the abuse that has occurred within the entertainment industry and #MeTooInSport has also been successful in raising awareness of sexual exploitation through sport, these campaigns have highlighted the failure of institutions to protect children and adults, however both movements has been very successful in capturing the public’s attention to what is a difficult subject to talk about in the public realm.
Many advertisers use controversial images and messages to get their points across to the consumer in what can be seen as a “cluttered market”.
The use of controversy in marketing has been a useful tool to seek to challenge the way we think. Is now the time for a re-think how we try to engage the wider public with the difficult subject of child abuse, sexual exploitation and human trafficking? The entertainment industry has in recent years included different forms of abuse in major story lines in “soap operas” with varying degrees of success, however these shows rely on viewing figures to gauge success and the stories move on with haste to the next scenario and the public also move their thinking on too, just as fast.
It is therefore imperative that we engage with people’s emotions and challenge the way they think about child abuse. We firmly believe that it is part of our job to make people feel comfortable thinking about the uncomfortable.
With this in mind we have developed a suite of new resources that is not aimed to shock people but to engage with their emotions and question what they are seeing, the aim of the campaign is not to offend anyone, but to keep engagement of a difficult narrative alive. Aly Raisman is a former gold medal winning Olympic Gymnast who was abused by the USA Gymnastic team Doctor Larry Nasser, in her testimony at his criminal trial stated “ perpetrators thrive on silence” this is the difficulty we face in society as these stories are soon forgotten from the public consciousness and silence once again prevails, this is why we have to have a changing and challenging narrative to capture attention and keep prevention of these crimes a key priority.
The suite of resources are deliberately challenging and thought provoking, we intentionally designed them to look like magazine covers but the underlying messages demonstrate how perpetrators manipulate children and in many cases their parents as well. The first edition cover stories feature sport as this is an area which has received much media attention recently with some high profile cases featuring prominently in the media but unfortunately most abuse in sport goes unreported. A new ‘edition’ with a different subject matter will be launched each month through to April 2020.
We actively want people to view these covers, be curious about them and ask questions about what they are seeing. The 19th Century American philosopher Henry Thoreau once said “it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see”. This quote is so important to remember when viewing the cover stories as they have been designed to “grab your attention” and awaken your emotions to child abuse and sexual exploitation.
The campaign can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.stop-cse.org/cover-stories/
Our CSE in Sport campaign has posters from many different sports and activities and can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.stop-cse.org/tackling-cse-in-sports/
Please use social media to share this campaign – lets get a conversation started – please use hashtag #coverstory when talking about the campaign