Take your blood pressure medicine before watching this so-called public service announcement .
The spot shows two women in a coffee shop, one of them with her kid. The three chat for about 15 seconds, the mom buys a coffee and then off the mom and child go, leaving the other woman — for no apparent reason — with a sneaking suspicion that the mom is a child abuser.
The mom has said nothing harsh to her child. The child is communicative and bears no visible bruises. In other words, the mom and child look like me and my child, or you and your child, or any mom and any child and yet, for some reason, that is enough for the other woman to feel the prickles of concern. And then she is urged to act: “If you even suspect abuse, call 1 800 4 A CHILD. Trust your instincts.”
Trust your instincts to what? Suspect every seemingly normal parent is hiding a deep, dark secret? In the ad, the mom is wearing a t-shirt that says, “CHILD ABUSER,” to show that this other woman’s instincts were right.
Too bad the Ad Council sat out the McCarthy hearings — it could have had a field day! “If you even SUSPECT your neighbor is a Communist…” And it’s really sad we didn’t have 30- second TV spots in Salem in the 1600s: “If thou even SUSPECTETH sorcery…”
The problem is: In our commendable desire to keep kids safe, we have gone overboard and turned into a country where all parents are suspected of not being good enough, or — now — even actively bad. Just imagine if this woman had let her kid wait in the car! — Lenore