ASAI Ban ISPCC's 'I Can't Wait Until I Grow Up' because the abuser is a man

There's a bit of a cat-fight between the ASA Ireland and the ISPCC Ireland right now. The ASA upheld a complaint against the ISPCC's "when I grow up" on the grounds of - wait for it - gender inequality. Yes, the real problem in this world clearly is that the only adult abusing the little boy in the ad is his father, step father, uncle or other male person. Who complained about that?

Complainants objected to the advertisement on the basis that it was unbalanced in its treatment of the subject of abuse in the home. The advertisement only depicted a male as being the aggressor and the complainants considered this to be unbalanced.

The ISPCC soon sent this press release as a reply:

The ISPCC have produced this ad, on the back of Childline statistics, with the aim of highlighting the continuing abuse of children within Irish Society. The ISPCC are very disappointed with this decision and feel that the focus has been taken away from the real issue of child abuse.

ISPCC - I Can't wait until I grow up - (2011)


The ISPCC has been instructed to remove the video in its current format from all 'Irish Media'. This does not include, nor This detail put here for those commenting under the original ad post. We're an advertising news site, not a paid media space. The ISPCC's full statement asks good questions.

The ISPCC is taken aback at the decision made by the Complaints Committee of the ASAI. The ISPCC believes that the campaign successfully tackles the very tough and sensitive issue of physical abuse in Ireland and while this may be unsettling to watch, it is a reality that should not be hidden in the shadows. Indeed the ASAI, in their report stated that the Complaints Committee “accepted that the level of violence portrayed while disturbing was realistic and that the primary message being conveyed in the advertising was the existence of this abuse.” The video makes no reference to physical abuse being carried out exclusively by either men or women or indeed by fathers or mothers. This advertisement does not focus on the adult; its focus is entirely on the child. Any attempt to focus on whether the adult is a male or female is clearly missing the point and purpose of the ad in the first instance. The ISPCC has asked the ASAI two very direct questions: 1. Are they demanding that any future ads produced by the ISPCC showing abuse of a child must feature a woman perpetrator? 2. Are they demanding that any future ads produced by the ISPCC showing abuse of a child must be made on the double showing both a male and a female perpetrator? Child abuse should be a much bigger issue than this. Surely this is just stating the obvious?

The ASA Ireland responded to the ISPCC press release about their decision by dodging answering the questions (in public):

The ASAI has noted the questions posed by the ISPCC and the Chief Executive of the Authority, Mr. Frank Goodman, yesterday discussed the issue with a Senior Executive of the ISPCC and offered the Authority’s Copy Advice service. This service is available to all advertisers, agencies and media and is free, confidential and non-binding. Finally the ASAI pointed out that in particular circumstances the ISPCC can apply for a review of the decision if they consider that any of the procedures involved were deficient or that the decision was made against the weight of evidence.

When Adfreak spoke to director Richie Smyth and Ogilvy creative director Colin Nimick about the ad we found out that the talented kid is not an actor but a 7-year-old taekwondo enthusiast who just happened to have serious acting chops as well. Each choice made in the ad, from the bookends to the lack of music adds to the gut-wrenching sadness we feel watching it.

Smyth considered a different ending, with the boy lying on the ground, but felt the quiet resilience of him pulling on his jacket "was just so poignant a moment."

Good call. Unlike the ASA Ireland's. Unless of course they figured they were doing the ISPCC a favour here, we all know that "banned" ads travel the web forever and have many more views than those that are not. This will effectively give a great ad second wind on all the ad-blogs and maybe even HuffPo. Woo!

Adland® is supported by your donations alone. You can help us out by buying us a Ko-Fi coffee.
Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
Files must be less than 1 MB.
Allowed file types: jpg jpeg gif png wav avi mpeg mpg mov rm flv wmv 3gp mp4 m4v.
Dabitch's picture

Yeay, AdFreak are on it now, not pulling punches: "Ireland Bans Powerful Child-Abuse PSA for Baffling, Idiotic Reason". Second-wind web-fame is nigh!

wissler's picture

For those of you unaware, multiple studies clearly show that the vast majority (well over two thirds) of physical child abuse is perpetrated by women. Its women that push, shove, slap, punch and kick children, its women that beat children with objects, its women that leave children bloody and bruised.

We as a society will not be able to stop child abuse, until we admit who's really doing it.

Dabitch's picture

If you're not able to provide the 'multiple studies clearly show' you refer to here via a link, perhaps you could send your sources to the ASAI, they're wanting. source (linked in post).

The Secretariat asked the advertisers to detail in relation to the calls received by Childline what percentage of the calls were from children of a similar age to the child in the advertisement and of those children calling what percentage were abused by males.
While the advertisers provided further information regarding the Childline service and a profile breakdown of phone and online statistics from 2010, they were unable to provide the information required as this was not collected by them.
The Secretariat checked independently and found that comprehensive independent statistics were not available for the type of child abuse illustrated.

AnonymousCoward's picture

This really is excellent news.

So many "charities" just pretend all abusers are male and this means they're spreading harmful myths and making it harder for most victims to recognise that they're being abused as the gender of their abusers doesn't fit the false image everyone else shows.

many thanks to ASAI for taking a stand against sexism, false advertising and helping vicitms of child abuse.

There's no problem in having one ad with a male perpetrator. It only becomes dishonest and sexist when every single campaign and advert by an organisation smears a group of people in this way and never shows the opposite occurring. Just imagine the outcry if every abuser was from an ethnic minority.

Sray's picture

People really need to see this video. Does it really matter if it is a man or a woman abusing the child? Should they have a man and woman abusing the child at the same time to appease everyone? Their message is very important and for people to be fighting to take it down is idiotic. The is an epidemic around the world. People do not want face the reality that this happens to children everyday. Children need to be loved and protected not beat and abused by selfish jerks. I hope this video reaches everyone on the planet.