The body responsible for holding hearings for at-risk children has been called on to scrap a controversial recruitment campaign over posters described as "crass" and dehumanising.

Children's Hearings Scotland launched the campaign to recruit new panel members today, but experts say the adverts are misjudged and should be withdrawn.

The posters, which are part of a drive to recruit younger people to sit on Scotland's lay tribunals assessing the needs of vulnerable children, show a bus driver, a catering manager, a leisure worker and a customer adviser with halos over their heads.

They also describe scenarios where the people pictured have helped a young person. One reads: "I helped protect mummy's little punchbag from another beating".

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Critics include the heads of some of Scotland's major children's charities. Mary Glasgow, interrim head of Children 1st tweeted that she was "stunned" at the adverts' depiction of panel members as saints, adding: "We need sensitive, informed panel members who understand it’s not about heroics or power but rather support, understanding and decisions made in the best interests of children and alongside parents whenever possible."

Sally Ann Kelly, chief executive of Aberlour tweeted of the poster with the 'mummy's little punchbag' line: "Surely you need to reconsider this advert @chscotland?"

Meanwhile, several board members and spokespeople at Who Cares? Scotland, the charity for care experienced young people, also voiced their dismay.

Kenny Murray said the adverts were "dehumanising" and misrepresented the problems faced by many young people attending children's hearings.

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"These adverts place societal stigma and judgement against parents who somehow find their family life in front of a children’s panel. When you come in front of a panel it might be because of abuse or neglect. It might not be. When the wording places such emphasis on abuse, what it doesn’t do is place the wellbeing of the child at the centre," he said, in a blog.

He said the recruitment campaign would add to the stigma attached to young people in care, and might attract the wrong people. "If your advertising seeks to motivate someone through using a halo and very carefully selected narratives in which you place the viewer as a vigilante or a rescuer, who then does that motivate?"

Jamie Kinlochan tweeted: "Folk who want a halo are the folk young people don't need."

Meanwhile Who Cares? Scotland board member Alicia Santana said young people's views of the posters had been ignored.

"I was one of the people they consulted on the design of the posters for this campaign and I highly suggested they changed mostly everything from the wording to even the colour scheming. It’s a shame that they didn’t, but hopefully they’ll retract them."

"Every year, we run a recruitment campaign which aims to attract new Panel Members," he said.

"This year’s campaign features the strapline 'Be A Force For Good' to convey the important role Panel Members have within their local community both in terms of supporting children and young people and being a force for social good.

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It uses a halo effect and some strongly worded scenarios which we know will divide opinion. However, our aim is to want to draw people in, stimulate a sense of urgency and make people act."