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Raise funds but do not put pressure on children

From Fiona Hingston.

I read with interest about the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's work within schools in Somerset (TES, October 25). While I fully endorse its motives in raising "children's awareness of others' problems and to let them know of support available", I question the ethics behind targeting children aged four and five as fund-raisers.

The NSPCC has been to my daughter's school. I knew nothing of this until she came home with a worksheet picturing an environmentally-devastated scene on it. On first glance, I thought she must be doing a "green" project but on closer inspection discovered that it was from the NSPCC as a fund-raising exercise - the children having to count the bad environmental practices pictured and collect money for each point found, to gain a badge. I let my daughter colour in the picture and we talked about it, but I was not prepared to let her go and canvass for money.

The next day at the school gate, I heard of other parents who had been badgered by their children "to ring up Auntie so-and-so and get some money". Another mother had to pay the sponsor promises made by her son to his friend. Who's doing the fund-raising, the children or the parents? I felt that parents were being manipulated into fund-raising, while children were not doing it for altruistic reasons but to get the badges and stickers, thus encouraging an element of competition.

On questioning the school, I was assured that the visit by the NSPCC benefited the children. When I asked about the nature of the fund-raising, I was told that the society would not go into schools unless it could fund-raise. If this is the case, I would ask the NSPCC to review its methods. Parents are called on more and more to contribute to schools, albeit on a voluntary basis. I do not want to see pressure on children to be part of this process, no matter how worthy the cause.

FIONA HINGSTON Donkey Cottage, West Horrington, Somerset.


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