NEW YORK: The Ad Council, in partnership with Childhelp USA, has launched a national campaign to encourage adults to intervene in suspected cases of child abuse. A series of PSAs will be distributed throughout April as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
It is estimated that 3 million cases of child abuse will be reported this year, but experts say the actual number is three times that. Preliminary research by Ogilvy & Mather - the agency that created the PSAs pro bono - showed that a sense of fear and helplessness prevents adults from reporting cases of suspected abuse.
"We found that people already know they should be doing something to help suffering children, but they hold back on taking action," explained Rebecca Heller, director of communications for Childhelp USA. "So we created a message to help them get over any hesitations or misconceptions about reporting suspect behavior."
The PSAs direct audiences to call an anonymous hotline, 800-4-A-CHILD, and to visit www.childhelpusa.org. Professional counselors take all calls on the hotline, which gives callers advice on reporting abuse before they contact authorities.
An team of two at the Ad Council is doing media outreach to daily papers.
In the first week of April, a mention of the effort and a picture ran in USA Today.
A VNR is being distributed at the end of this month that contains interviews with the director of the hotline and with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. An account is also included from a woman who suspected a neighbor of abusing her child, but never reported it. The child was later killed by its mother.