Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Child abuse ads too hardcore for soft rock

"I want to talk to you about a subject many people try to ignore - child sexual abuse.

Each year in Pennsylvania thousands of children are sexually abused and most cases are never reported.

Without help these children may have a lifetime of mental health issues.

But there is hope - you. If you believe a child is being sexually abused, please visit or call 1-887-874-HERO."

That's the text of a 30-second radio PSA produced by The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) that, according to their press release and blog, has been rejected by WBEB 101.1FM in Philadelphia.

To hear the radio spots for yourself, click here.

According to PCAR:

"WBEB's General Manager Blaise Howard offered PCAR space only if it altered the wording to remove the word "rape" from the organization's name and say "child abuse" instead of "child sexual abuse," citing that the station's listeners would be upset by the words that are currently used.

Howard stated to PCAR's executive director that WBEB doesn't take "explicit ads" because they are a "straight laced" company. However, the station does play sexually suggestive music by artists such as Prince, Madonna, Lady GaGa and George Michael."

PCAR Executive Director Delilah Rumburg added:

"Child sexual abuse is not about sexuality. It's about violence to our children. If the station doesn't believe its listeners could handle hearing words about abuse, imagine what child victims of sexual abuse are experiencing."

"We believe that our message is important to Pennsylvanians. All we are trying to do is get information out to the public that there is help and healing for survivors and their families. We don't feel that modifying the language is an acceptable compromise. The station is asking us to censor information that could actually help their listeners. Their decision is appalling and perpetuates the veil of silence that continues to hurt victims in need of help."

I can understand parents having concern about their young children hearing these messages (my 5-year-old son runs away and hides when ads about abuse or child poverty come on Discovery Channel) but this is an adult-oriented radio station. If any good can come from this epic fail on the part of the station, it will be to make even stronger PCAR's point about the need to overcome "polite" denial in the fight to stop child sexual abuse.

PCAR is urging Philadelphia residents to call the station and voice their displeasure with the soft rock radio station and to ask the station to make a substantial donation to their local rape crisis centers. For those of us outside the City of Brotherly Love, perhaps it's worth considering if we would complain to a station that bruised our delicate sensibilities by telling the hard truth about abuse.

There are also TV spots (non-embeddable) available for viewing at the HERO project web site.


  1. Thank you so much for posting about this situation. We have had heard a huge outcry from many people and other media outlets. In fact several radio companies are calling us offering to help! Please go to our web site and view the ads. It's up to adults to protect children and each of us have the power to stop these horrific crimes! ---Jill from PCAR---

  2. This PSA deserves to be heard. People are so scared of cyber stalkers and "men in white vans" abducting and/or assaulting their children. Most abuse occurs at the hands of people known to the children: fathers, grandfathers, coaches, teachers, priests, Scout leaders, and so on. Those are the unreported cases.
    The controversy reminds me of the HOT 89.9 debacle here in Ottawa. People were upset when the station did a "find our missing 't'" campaign, where posters read "Ho 89.9". Parents were upset that their children would see and hear the ads, yet the station plays music with much "worse" words in it, which the children must be hearing if their parents are listening to it.

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