Worst Public Service Announcement Ever?

This public service announcement tells you not to abandon your toddler in the park, even if you’re having a bad day. Because…this is such a pervasive problem?


Here’s znsdhenrif
what Ellie Lee, director of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies at the University of Kent, has to say:

How can any responsible public service organisation make a film like this? This film serves no possible positive purpose.It’s single most likely outcome is to provoke unnecessary alarm about the safety of any child who does not have a parent right next to them at all times. In general it will fuel already out of control sentiments about the deficiency of parents.

It can do nothing whatsoever to address the problem of some parents using their children in their conflicts with each other, but which are nonetheless very unlikely indeed to end in this sort of scenario. ‘Poetic license’ applies to artistic output. This sort of effort to use extreme scenarios to generate fear in the viewer has no place in public service.

Agreed! Since when are public service announcements allowed to make up scenarios that “feel” real and then act as if they are actual issues the public must be warned against?

If I made a PSA about the dangers of moms perching their toddlers in trees, or buying them pet scorpions, or giving them full-face tattoos, would it get airtime and make people mad at those horrible parents who do that sort of thing?

I’m sick of hysteria masquerading as enlightened concern. – L.


Mommy! Save me from this pointless, alarmist Public Service Announcement!

Mommy! Save me from this pointless Public Service Announcement!


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41 Responses to Worst Public Service Announcement Ever?

  1. Earth.W November 30, 2016 at 8:32 am #

    Wow. They took the issue of a parent who doesn’t care or do anything for their child and put all of the fear factor on the other parent who is at a financial and emotional breaking point. Something I’d expect to see come from a religious organisation.

  2. Powers November 30, 2016 at 8:33 am #

    This post seems kind of devoid of information. Who created this PSA? Has it actually aired anywhere? It looks very low-budget.

  3. Kimberly November 30, 2016 at 8:33 am #

    They couldn’t make a PSA about who to reach out to when you’re overly frustrated or need help with child support payments. That would’ve been much more useful.

  4. BL November 30, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    “If I made a PSA about the dangers of moms perching their toddlers in trees, or buying them pet scorpions, or giving them full-face tattoos, would it get airtime and make people mad at those horrible parents who do that sort of thing?”

    Go for it. Plenty of parents give their young ‘uns pet scorpions without a second thought. We need PSAs to inform them that it’s wrong.

  5. Randy November 30, 2016 at 9:10 am #

    The lesson in the video is to not have arguments with the other parent in front of the kid. Even if mom didn’t leave, the child heard the message that mom has more important things to do than be a parent. I don’t care how bad the other parent is, you don’t have that argument, or make negative comments, in front of the child.

  6. pentamom November 30, 2016 at 9:41 am #

    This PSA makes perfect sense. People do things like abandoning their small children in parks out of frustration with irresponsible exes simply because no one has ever told them not to. They are making what seems to them a perfectly rational, coolly thought out decision based on all the knowledge they have about good parenting and child safety. However, if they see a PSA telling them not to do it, a knowledge gap will be filled, they will have information they previously lacked, and they will not do it.

    This ends the broadcast from stupid world. Back you, Lenore, at reality.

  7. pentamom November 30, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    Back *to* you.

  8. ChicagoDad November 30, 2016 at 9:51 am #

    The website for the group that produced this video is appalling.
    It looks like they spread alarm and outrage to extort donations from the public. Really sick.

  9. Dienne November 30, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    “A loving family would love to take your place”. Sounds like a push for adoption. There are an awful lot of “Christian” [sic] organizations that are awfully hungry to separate kids from their “bad” family of origin so they can be brought up the “right” way.

    Also, a pet peeve of mine, but could we not call this kid a “toddler”? She looks to be close to three and she certainly doesn’t “toddle”. “Preschooler” would be more apt.

  10. bob magee November 30, 2016 at 11:02 am #


    Child abandonment not automatically a crime. This PSA would do more help if it mentioned that aspect. The real crime is not a parent throwing a hissy fit, but when a parent gives up hope and dis

    Also, child was definitely “hands off” at end

  11. carolyn November 30, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    And since when does a child that age say, “Why me?”.

  12. Backroads November 30, 2016 at 11:37 am #

    Can we say “straw man?”

  13. Ater November 30, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    I’ve put a blanket ban on my kids making me push them on swings. I have some irrational hatred for it. Sometimes they’ll stare pathetically at the more caring parents until they take pity on them and push them. But they’ve never decided to just wander off instead.

  14. Katie November 30, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    Lenore – if you going to make a PSA about pet scorpions, can you add in a line about venomous snakes?

  15. John B. November 30, 2016 at 12:29 pm #


    “The website for the group that produced this video is appalling.
    It looks like they spread alarm and outrage to extort donations from the public. Really sick.”


    Yea, that website’s really out there. They post one tragic situation after the other and make it seem like 9-year-olds committing suicide and parents murdering their young children in front of Park Rangers are common everyday occurrences. Sad part is, most Americans who see that website will do what Americans typically do. OVER REACT without one thought ever given to the possible repercussions of their over reactions. I’m talking about reporting other parents to CPS because they saw a mark on their child’s face or merely yelled at their child. Or assaulting a person in Wal*Mart and accusing them of being a “sex-predator” because that person committed the terrible crime of winking at their toddler child because the person thought the child was puppy-like cute. The list can go on and on.

  16. James Pollock November 30, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

    For a while at the start, I thought they were all right, and going to remind us that arguing where the kids can hear has effects on the children. I mean, when you shout “I didn’t even want her, YOU did!” that’s going to leave some emotional scarring, right

    But then they have to go on and show that not only is this woman bad a parenting, she’s bad at abandoning children. The RIGHT way to abandon children in this circumstance is on the other parent’s doorstep, so all the neighbors know who isn’t meeting their parental obligations.

    Since nobody else wants to mention the fairly blatant racism, I guess I won’t either. (oops)

    But the best part was the suggestions at the end that YouTube thought I might want to watch next. One of them was a video of people pretending to be child abductors “testing” whether children would get in their car. (Hint: of course they do! No telling how many kids said “nope” and kept walking, but they for sure aren’t in the video.)

  17. Mark Roulo November 30, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    “Sometimes they’ll stare pathetically at the more caring parents until they take pity on them and push them.”

    Some of us enjoy pushing children on swings.

    Just sayin’.

  18. SanityAnyone? November 30, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    What does it even mean “A child is a terrible thing to waste, hundreds of loving families would love to take your place? ” Are they suggesting that if your life is frustrating, just give your kids away to “nice” families? Do they think that little girl would be overjoyed to be yanked away from the Mommy for whom she is crying and thrilled to be dumped with strangers and a brand new nice Mommy?

    There’s something really ill about the whole thing, top to bottom. They should be offering the services of a lawyer, counselor or babysitter, not to rehome kids except in extreme cases.

    Fact: Kids can handle adversity. Almost all of us have survived “complicated” upbringings. Kids should be protected from serious abuse, not from challenging situations. Kids need a network of mentors to help them with challenging life situations. They don’t necessarily need new homes.

  19. Vicki Bradley November 30, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    This PSA is so wrong on so many levels! I have heard of kids not being picked up on time due to a mix up but that is not what is happening in this ridiculous PSA. You can be sure if this was something that was happening on a regular basis, it would be all over the internet and media. I think the basis of this fear-mongering problem is partly due to the declining crime rate, so there is less to for all of us to fear, thus less fodder for the media, so the media feels the need to fill that vacuum with made-up/trumped-up stories.

  20. SKL November 30, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    Wow, what a poorly thought-out and poorly done video. Are we sure this is real?

    Are there people who didn’t know child abandonment was a crime? If so, are they likely to be able to read the words on the screen?

    Or … is this a joke video?

  21. SKL November 30, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    As far as racism – that was my first thought too, but it seems the guy behind the website is African American, and the “actors” don’t seem very experienced, so maybe he’s just using his family / friends.

  22. Missus H November 30, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    The funny thing is, that real child is more likely to be in real danger than the character she is playing. Child actors and actresses are subject to so much abuse and potential exploitation.

  23. EricS November 30, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    Ok. Let’s take the particular situation in the video. I don’t care what crap both parents are going through, you never, ever put your child in the middle. Leaving your child to play with other kids, and they know you will be back and are good with it, and educated enough how to conduct themselves is acceptable to me. But leaving your child somewhere, because you’re mad at your partner/ex-partner, AND the child is in distress (because she doesn’t want to be left there by herself, and ill equipped to deal) is a completely different thing. That’s child neglect. And in this case “abandonment”.

    Regardless of how the adults feel, they should never make the children pay for their own issues. Be it like this video, or schools eliminating activities, or imposing ridiculous rules to make things more convenient for themselves, or good parents getting lazy to take care of their kids (it happens). Children first. And not as a tool to get what you want.

  24. EricS November 30, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

    @Vicki Bradley: Not just Media. But fearful/paranoid parents as well. It may not be happening. But the just the idea is enough for them to drum up the worse case scenario, and work with that like it was an epidemic.

  25. Emily November 30, 2016 at 2:21 pm #

    >>Wow. They took the issue of a parent who doesn’t care or do anything for their child and put all of the fear factor on the other parent who is at a financial and emotional breaking point. Something I’d expect to see come from a religious organisation.<<

    Earth W.–I didn't even think of that, and I was the one who showed Lenore this PSA in the first place…..but yeah. The really bad parent isn't the one at the park on her cell phone; it's the other one, on the other end of that phone conversation, who's refusing to pick the child up as scheduled. Also, Dienne, I agree; that little girl isn't a toddler; she's a preschooler. I think she looks closer to four than three, even.

  26. Richard M Stallman November 30, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

    You wrote:

    If I made a PSA about the dangers of moms perching their toddlers in trees, or buying them pet scorpions, or giving them full-face tattoos, would it get airtime and make people mad at those horrible parents who do that sort of thing?

    That’s a great idea! Do it! It would make the real PSA ridiculous.

  27. James Pollock November 30, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

    ” The really bad parent isn’t the one at the park on her cell phone; it’s the other one, on the other end of that phone conversation, who’s refusing to pick the child up as scheduled.”

    Objectively, one parent is not with the child but knows that the child is with the other parent when deciding not to be there. The other parent is not with the child, but knows that the child is NOT with the other parent when deciding not to be there.

    They’re both awful… caricatures.
    Think about it… if a parent calls you and says “look, I’m mad at you, so I’m going to abandon a child on a playground”, is the more rational response “OMG, you totally mean it, I’ll be right there” or is it “yeah, right. Sure you will. Listen, the reason I can’t be there is both real and important, and hasn’t gone away in the last two minutes. Also, the sooner I hang up on you and actually deal with it, the sooner I can actually be there, OK”?

    We are, of course, left free to imagine the other side of the phone conversation… is he sitting on a ratty old couch, smoking weed with his bros, playing some videogame? Or is he at work, trying to earn the money he needs to make to support the child(ren) he barely gets to see because he has to work all the time? Or was he just involved in a car accident in a busy street, and dealing with getting the broken car out of the roadway, figuring out where to take it to get it fixed, and dealing with the cops who are overseeing this process? It’s a blank slate for us, the viewers, to write on what we like.
    Heck, for all we know, he’s in jail and that was his one phone call. Or if you prefer a REALLY dark turn, he’s dead, killed in that car accident, and she’s screaming at his voicemail.

  28. lollipoplover November 30, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    This is so wrong on so many levels, with racial stereotypes and poor grammar to the message at the end- Child Abandonment???

    What about a PSA about the deplorable state of affairs of most domestic relations public offices and how unenforceable, complicated, and corrupt the divorce and custody court system had become?
    The opportunity to educate parents on how to be civil (and pick up your child when you have custody!) and not take out your anger on the child, where to find HELP when your ex is being a douche, and solutions, not BLAME.
    But give us a stereotypical black single mom dumping her kid.

    And a kid this big is not a toddler, and could probably be taught to pump her legs on that swing, not needing a push.

  29. CLamb November 30, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

    Looks like the start of another contest.

  30. Cinnamon November 30, 2016 at 7:56 pm #

    similar thinking applies to many other areas of life….not just ‘parenting’, etc….
    how can we help ?
    naming and shaming extreme over the top examples is a common response…. it happens on both sides of the fence…

    what comes after that ?
    what positive response ?
    positive action ?

    More laws, rules, suing and so on ?
    What other positive options that do not boil down to “gosh this is terrible, !! aren’t “they” over the top/crazy/extreme…. etc…. ?

  31. elizabeth November 30, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

    Stupidest psa ever

  32. Cassie November 30, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

    Wow… Is this just so that privileged white women can sit around discussing how bad non-white people are?

    I mean…. seriously.

  33. Cassie November 30, 2016 at 9:47 pm #


    OT but… We have initiated a “playgrounds are for kids” rule. The fewer parents in the playground – the more the kids play with each other.

  34. Ceridwen December 1, 2016 at 2:37 am #

    1,000,000 Likes Can Save 1,000,000 Children? This looks like one of those sensationalized click-baits for advertising revenue.

  35. sexhysteria December 1, 2016 at 3:16 am #

    The message is right: some parents do terrible things, even worse than this. But the method of communicating that message is wrong.

  36. Donna December 1, 2016 at 8:29 am #

    What is the point of the PSA? I can’t imagine that there are a lot of parents out there thinking it is not illegal to abandon their preschooler at a playground because they are mad at their spouse. If some parent chooses to do it, it is not because they mistakenly believed that it was okay and simply need to be educated.

  37. John December 1, 2016 at 8:55 am #

    Hey, the Simpsons just reran the episode from last year where Marge is arrested and sent to jail for sending Bart outside to play and he goes to the playground unsupervised. What the original post forgot to mention is that after Marge is arrested, all the parents in the neighborhood start putting their kids on leashes when they go outside.

  38. Mary December 1, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

    I love the end: 1 million likes saves 1 million children! What in the actual hell!

  39. Mary December 1, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

    If they really wanted to make it realistic, the kid would’ve been snatched IMMEDIATELY after her mom drove away. /sarc

  40. Red December 9, 2016 at 6:51 am #

    The kids who suffer most are those ranging from about 7 to 13 years old. Believe me, I live in Fresno California. Even on weekends, holidays and summer and winter breaks, the parks, playgrounds and neighborhood streets are downright VOID of adolescent and or juvenile life! All the BMX parks, and skate parks are almost always DESERTED. The kids in Fresno are just about ALL being raised “in containment!!!” The pedophile hysteria in California is gripping!!! Nobody, and I mean NO-body is letting their children step outside the HOUSE!!! We can thank TV shows like “Law and Order special victims unit”, Dateline’s Predator series with Chris Hansen, shows like “Forensic Case-files”, and America’s SERIOUSLY over-inflated public sex offender registries for the sheer TERROR that has gripped a good 85% of the parents in the U.S., particularly in California. Law enforcement has also bought into the “omnipresent predator” myth, along with the belief that kids are highly “incapable” of walking down a street without falling into a bush and subsequently dying of heat stroke on a 70* day!!!
    I also live down the street from a few schools. The schools have very strict safety rules. Among them is the rule that all children must be TAKEN to school by their parents to prevent child abductions. Children caught getting themselves to school ( be it by walking, riding bicycles, BMXs, or scooters )will end up having their parents warned that they are not to let their children do that again. Fail to comply and the LAW and child services will get involved!!! There is always at least TWO police cars parked outside the schools while school is in. My God, you’d think that someone was hunting those kids as if they were deer during “hunting season!!!” You’d think that the MAFIA had put out a “hit” on all of those kids! And as the inconvenienced parents march their little Jelly-fishes to school, you cannot help but notice how the moms and dads “glare” at all the hapless commuters with CONTEMPT as they slowly pass by. Yep! Like it or not, all of us commuters MUST be “pedophiles!!!” I mean, seriously, why ELSE would we be driving through the school-zone so slowly as the kids are being escorted to school!?!?! I’m surprised that our schools don’t have 12 foot high cement walls surrounding them so that all of us “pederasts” can’t view the kids in the school yard!!! And the parks,skate parks, and public streets remain completely VOID of kids and young teens. They’re all being kept shut up tight inside the house! “One more step towards that front door young lady, and I’ll BLISTER YOUR B–T!!!” There are probably no more than “16” free range kids in the entire state of California!!!!! Probably no more than “25” in the entire state of Texas!!! All the mothers and fathers I know guard their kids very VERY closely.

  41. Red December 9, 2016 at 7:04 am #

    I hate to say this Lenore, But if you think that your Free Range Kids movement is making headway, go on outside and drive around for awhile. If the parents in your town are anywhere near as pedophile paranoid as they are in MY hometown, you won’t see ONE SINGLE CHILD ….ANYWHERE! Sorry to burst your bubble, Lenore, but believe me, the Free Range Kids movement is going absolutely NOwhere!!! sad to say.