Heart-Wrenching PSAs Reveal How Child Sexual Abuse Hides in Plain Sight

People who molest kids usually aren’t strangers lurking in the bushes.

(Photo: Adeevee/Facebook)

Apr 16, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

We raise our kids to worry about “stranger danger”: the child molester hanging out at the park who tries to lure a child with a piece of candy or a tale of a lost puppy. But as “Some Things Are Hard to See,” a campaign of gripping PSAs created for DIF Zapopan, a family development nonprofit, reminds us, when it comes to child sexual abuse, the perpetrator is usually someone that a boy or girl already knows.

The ads, which were designed by Publicis México, a Mexico City–based creative agency, focus on situations that children often find themselves in with close relatives. Instead of starring actual people, the videos shows camouflaged silhouettes of kids and adults, and there is no dialogue. Each clip starts out showing a seemingly innocuous setting—and then morphs into awful situations that might make your skin crawl.

The Hard to See Uncle clip is set in a bathroom, with a young child who is getting ready to bathe and an inappropriately helpful uncle.

The Hard to See Grandpa PSA is set in a little girl’s bedroom, where a grandfather inappropriately tucks in his granddaughter.

In the Hard to See Mom video, a mother and child are in a living room. It’s chilling to see the mom raise her finger, indicating that the kid should be quiet.

Each clip ends with the stat that in Mexico, 80 percent of child sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by a close relative. Here in the United States, the statistics are horrifyingly similar: A 2003 National Institute of Justice report found that three out of four adolescents who have been sexually abused were assaulted by someone they knew well.

Last fall, one such situation played out in the tabloids after Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson’s mom, June “Mama June” Shannon, allegedly resumed her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, convicted child molester Mark McDaniel. The couple’s alleged reunion led Shannon’s 20-year-old daughter, Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell—who was concerned over what it might mean for her younger siblings—to come forward and publicly share that McDaniel had sexually abused her when she was eight years old.

So while these PSAs are uncomfortable to watch, it’s nothing compared with what child sexual abuse victims such as Cardwell have been through. The videos go on to ask the public to help us stop this. Given that one in four girls and one in six boys in America will be a victim of sexual assault before age 18, perhaps these ads will help people open their eyes and see the abusive situations in their midst.