Analysis of a Barnardo’s Advert: Stolen Childhood Why do charity adverts get complaints? Shocking, inappropriate, offensive- these words are often thrown at charities about their advertising. The Barnardo’s ‘Stolen Childhood’ campaign is typical of charity adverts, which engages people to donate, take action and make changes. Surely this means for people to support this charity, and not something to be complained about? The Barnardo’s campaign has created great controversy. This has made the public disapprove and to some what find disturbing.

Thomas Barnardo’s established his charity in 1870; even then did it cause accusations. Barnardo’s opened many projects such as ‘Believe in Children’ and ‘Child Poverty’ and many more series of campaigns. During 2002 Barnado’s launched the campaign ‘Stolen Childhood’ to help children up to the age of 18, who have been abused through prostitution. Complaints said audiences were left feeling disconcerted and disturbed. But making calls to stop child prostitution was a target for Barnardo’s; they wanted to create a new law allowing child prostitution to end.

Barnardo’s produced posters for advertisements about the prostitution of children and altered their faces to illustrate the pain that they are going through. Noticing the complaints, has risen, Barnardo’s defended the decision to use shocking images: saying that these changes allowed them to get the message across to many people and allow Minsters to act quickly, providing enough protection for children. In this particular advert, it contains a picture of a little girl sitting on a sofa.

Her face is digitally grotesquely old, but has a young body. Standing behind the sofa is part if a man and his fingers are running through her hair. The background is a subtle yellow, with curtains that are drawn. The advert includes a catchy slogan and information on how to donate or get supplementary information about the campaign. The man in this image is placed behind a sofa, with his back towards a window. This arrangement gives me an idea he is hiding or protecting the little girl away from the public.

This unknown man cannot be identified because the image does not allow the viewers to see his face because his face is deliberately hidden- this sets the audience eager to see his face. We are also not able to see his bottom half, as he is straightened up behind the sofa- Which suggests that the man may not be wearing any trousers. You can see the hairs upon the man’s chest, (as his shirt is seen to be undone) this straight away gives me a sense that this man is way beyond the age to be sexually connected with young girls.

Plus I can identify that he is wearing a wedding ring which states the man might be either married or divorced. This proves that anyone can act in this behaviour, whether or not you’re married. Clenching his hand on the sofa expresses that the man is in anger and has force over the young girl. However, he is probably satisfied as well as incensed because, his other hand is touching the girl’s hair. Reminding ourselves that his shirt is undone, this can calculate that he may be ready to sexually abuse her, or that he has already done so.

The terrified girl in the foreground is cramped up in the corner of the sofa: this shows that she is probably afraid and is trying to keep away. She looks as if she is trying to protect herself by holding both arms firmly around her. Through this I can sense that the girl may be in danger in some way perhaps, as she like to keep her self to herself. Her world might be very dark and cold so, therefore holding both arms is a way of keeping her pain within herself. Yet sitting in this position is also covering the lower part of her body, as she may not be wearing anything.

This then shows me the young girls sensitive and emotional side as she may be a very shy person. The purple bruises on her legs must have a horrifying story behind them- A story that involves physical, brutal abusing conflict between the man and her, or maybe be she has self harmed herself which might be a way to relief her pain. The top that the girl is wearing stands out to me, it appears to be quite rigid as it looks almost washed out form a bright pink colour, this suggests a soft girly side that she once had, and has all been taken away from her.

I can clearly say that this image of her clothing gives a sign of purity and innocence to contrast with her reality and the callousness of the room. Yet viewers who look at this poster are straight away drawn directly to her face. Her digital altered face appears to look old and wrinkly. Bug, heavy bags under her eyes are lined up with dark bruises, making her look stressed and tired, almost as if she has spent her hours crying with lack of sleep. From her droopy expression her mouth is weighed down with many defined lines which appear to be baggy wrinkles forming under her lips. Which is exaggerated on the amount of sexual abuse that she gets, hence it is equivalent to a life time and maybe it is difficult for her to relax and get some rest. This all results to how the child is being taken care of by the man –Not only does he abuse her but has no intention on her health and strength, she is some sort of shield for him, were she is being brutally knocked over, while he is safely fulfilled. The girl who once lived a happy life, with smiles and laughter, has almost faded away with a broken soul of worries, fear and pain.

I think this altering of her face may reflect what she may look like in the coming years. The image of this lonely victim has been adjusted to make her look old with strands of grey hair. By doing this digital alteration the audience are led to believe that this young girl has been traumatised by suffering from too much sexual abuse from the man, resulting in ageing and loss of childhood. This image captures only a certain part of the room; this creates suspense and gives the audience thoughts about who else might be in the room... nother abuser, or another child in a similar situation? The colour of the wall reflects the carpet, creating a sense of calm and a neutral atmosphere. This matches the colour of the curtains, and gives me an understanding that the main person living in the house has a sense of style, therefore can live in a decent looking way. Thus the soft colours clash with the situation of the trapped, dark story held between both characters in the image. Her disappointment and fear does not fit in well with the surroundings of the scene, which makes her prominent.

Everything is in contrast to each other, the bright clean room to the dark filthy routine he portrays. Yet one may wonder what is really going on behind those doors and drawn curtains, where a little girl is forced to love with a man. There area different levels positioned in this photograph. The man in the background is standing behind her dominantly as if he is in control of his powerful actions committed against the frightened girl, (through his level of height) as she is sitting and being touched by him. Abuse through prostitution STEALS CHILDRENS LIVES’ is a slogan used in the poster. These effective, emotive words make the audience want to put a stop to prostitution, to give everything the child need which has been taken away from them. Their hope would want the audience to act quickly and efficiently, due to words ‘prostitution and children’ oddly put together (which is normally not relevant to children) it is a short powerful message that loiters onto to you after you have read it.

The slogan also highlights the key points about the campaign, letting the audience know what prostitution can lead to. In this poster there is enough information needed, for instance the image is very vivid, followed by a catchy slogan, symbolising that the audience’s awareness can make a difference. Overall, Barnardo’s feel they can be more daring with their use of images to a younger age group. Even though, the text on this advert is very limited, the images illustrate an understanding of the charity, as it is well explained, using lack of words.

I agree with the fact that Barnardo’s has used visual distressing images- this will encourage and expose how neglect and abuse can bring horrifying consequences to children in the UK. The resulting of the poster will wake the public up, to the children’s distress. If not, the charity still received publicity through the complaints that were made, and will acknowledge them. However, this advert revolts me, and makes me aware of what is actually happening around me. I feel sympathy for the young girl; trying to understand what its like to be in her position and in this uncomfortable situation.

No child should experience an outrageous, despicable act like this! The poster lets the viewers create the rest of the room in your mind. Which makes me think that the rest of the world might me suffering from the same situation? This sets me a sudden erg, an eager to help the juvenile girl, and try to stay connected to her, letting her know that there can be help being made. In addition to this, I reckon the more eye-opening and clear the advert is, the more successful that campaign will be!