A campaign group have published a hard-hitting short film to highlight the link between child poverty and abuse, in the hope that it raises awareness and brings an end to the correlation between these factors in our communities.
The short film, Gaslighting, is based on true events and follows a young girl, Brooke, who has been part of ‘the system’ – social services, youth offending institutes, and care – since the age of eight.
Being brought up in a precarious environment resulted in Brooke being groomed and abused by a family member, who has psychological control over her, and is grooming a number of other vulnerable children in the local area.
The campaign is being supported by the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL), for whom our Peter Garsden is President, and is a stark look at how a disproportionate amount of youth offenders come from low income areas.
Harrowing Awareness Campaign
The short film shows a cycle of abuse that leaves a young girl angry and volatile, which leads to her acting out, being expelled from school, and eventually being in trouble with the law.
While harrowing and difficult to watch, the film highlights the clear links between abusive relationships amongst legal guardians – in this case Brooke’s mother and boyfriend – poverty, child abuse, and criminality.
The campaign organisers hope that the short film highlights that some children act out and offend because of poverty and sexual abuse.
Gaslighting was produced by a team of people that have worked with abused teenagers and young offenders, which enables the short film to possess a stark realism.
In a statement on the campaign website, the film’s writer and director Elaine Wickham explains:
“I have run film production and screenwriting programmes for young offenders and have taught over 100 students deemed ‘unteachable’.”
“Most of my students were in care, from broken homes and abusive backgrounds, most had attempted suicide and self- harmed, many were institutionalised, apathetic, distrusting and violent, few could read or write.”
“Most importantly, all, and I mean all, had a story to tell, a moment when the offending started and the violence began, when that first adult broke their trust and stole their childhood.”
Challenging Underlying Issues
The objective of the campaign is to challenge the underlying issues that surround youth offenders and make the public consider the causes of youth crime, instead of focusing on the crime itself.
Against a backdrop of negative public perception against youth offenders the campaign film hopes to promote tolerance and empathy towards youth offenders that have been victims of poverty and abuse.
The campaign is looking to alter the public perception on youth offenders by highlighting that there are a range of factors that can contribute to criminality.
Discussing the campaign, Peter said:
“This is such an important campaign that seeks to make the wider public aware of the underlying factors that can result in youth offending.”
“There is a direct link between poverty, child abuse, and youth offending, with some of the child abuse cases we deal with at Simpson Millar involving clients who have broken the law in anger and retaliation to their earlier abuse.”
“Sadly there seems to be a lack of understanding of the psychological effects of child abuse amongst the wider public; but survivors of abuse never forget what happened to them at a young age.”
“As is human nature, when people struggle to deal with emotional and psychological pressures they often act out, which can result in them being reprimanded by the law – this point is surmised perfectly by the hard-hitting Gaslighting campaign film as the main character is sentenced for acting out after being caught in a cycle of abuse.”
“Ultimately, the law is rigid in its implementation, which means that underlying factors and circumstances that can contribute to offences can be difficult to put to a judge.”
To view the film follow this link https://www.impartplayer.com/products/gaslighting