Child Abuse and Facebook

For the last several days, the following profile picture meme has been going around facebook:

change your facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood! The goal is to not see a human face on facebook by Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse! Copy & paste this message to your status to invite all your friends to do the same. Lets Stop Child Abuse.

I personally find this “game” banal and ineffective.

The instructions say the goal is “to not see a human face til Monday.”   Wait?  who’s being abused –  cartoon characters or HUMAN children?  When I, and probably most of the people on Facebook, see one of the cartoon characters on someone’s profile, we don’t stop and think “oh poor child who’s getting beaten tonight…I’m thinking of you.”   We’re thinking, “HECK YES!  I LOVED Rainbow Bright as a kid!”

Ineffective.

There are those out there who believe in the power of prayer.  If you do, and you changed your picture, I’m curious…have you really prayed for these children?  I hope so…but I doubt that many have.  They’re still thinking about how much they loved the smurfs when they were 8.

The meme instructions also say, “Join in the fight against child abuse” and “Let’s stop child abuse.”  I understand that many people do not have the financial means to donate to charities that are fighting daily for abused and neglected children.  (Even though I have no doubt that most people are spending hundreds of dollars on their own children this Christmas but can’t afford to donate even $20 dollars to children who’s parents have neglected them during this joyful season).  But even if you truly haven’t budgeted to donate to child charities, or perhaps you’ve already donated to other worthwhile causes, just changing a picture does not fight against child abuse.  It’s trite and too simplistic.

A true fight begins with EDUCATING one another on the issue.

Share Statistics. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Child Welfare Information Gateway has a plethora of statistics.  You can search through them HERE.  Perhaps find a few statistics to post in your Facebook status throughout the next week.

Learn the Signs of Abuse. It’s not enough just to know the statistics.  You must be able to recognize symptoms of abuse and know how to intervene on a child’s behalf.  Helpguide.org gives detailed information on understanding child abuse, lists warning signs that point to abuse, and ways you can help save the abused child. You can go directly to this information by clicking HERE.

Once you’ve got down some of the statistics, facts, and intervention techniques, TAKE ACTION!  And you can do more than just donate money.  Prevent Child Abuse America has some great (and effective) suggestions for raising awareness of the issue, such as printing posters for your workplace bulletin board, or writing elected officials asking for more funding.  Check out more financial-free ideas by clicking HERE.

I understand that most people have good and honorable intentions when they participate in the “change your profile pic” game.  …

It’s just not enough.

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. macayla
    Dec 04, 2010 @ 15:32:41

    I agree that the cartoon thing doesn’t do anything to help. When I changed mine, I wasn’t aware of the child abuse connection. I thought it was silly, so I joined in the fun. A few hours later, I saw that people were connecting it to child abuse, and I was like, “Okay, this isn’t going to do anything for that, but whatever.”

    I did see this morning that one of my friends posted the meme with a link to a child abuse prevention web-site, so that’s at least a step in the right direction!

    Thank you for sharing real ways to help! C:

    Reply

    • lmparks
      Dec 04, 2010 @ 15:44:24

      Yeah, this morning I read a few comments on Facebook from people who originally didn’t know the cartoon was linked to Child abuse awareness. I wish I hadn’t known its meaning…then I would have LOVED the cartoon flashbacks!

      Reply

  2. Lindsey Radde
    Dec 04, 2010 @ 16:22:34

    Hi, Lindsey. I didn’t post the child abuse blurb, because I agree that it’s worthless. I did however, change my profile pic, because I love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I work at a church and a Christian private school, and most church’s and Christian schools have programs going to support neglected children this time of year. Abuse is something different from poverty and simply financial neglect. I hear a lot of good things about the CASA program. I haven’t done much research, but it seems to be very hands-on with the child, and I think it’s so important for abused children to see the faces of the people who are helping them. To know that real people out there care what happens to them. It helps reveal a wholly fictional reality as truly possible to a child who’s been living in an emotional cage.
    http://www.casaforchildren.org
    check it out.
    Boys and Girls clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters….

    Reply

    • lmparks
      Dec 04, 2010 @ 23:09:18

      Thanks for sharing about this program! I have to say, I think many schools (both public and private) do a good job of getting students informed and involved on many different social issues.

      Reply

  3. Anonymous
    Dec 04, 2010 @ 22:50:28

    I understand where you are coming from, however your blog proves that this trend has some effective effects. It is causing people to question why cartoon characters are peoples profile picture, and it is also causing critics, such as yourself, to blog about it. Which brings awareness to the cause. If people are curious they google it and might possibly come to your blog and see the stats of abuse, etc. So although it is simplistic and in many ways trite, it is also effective

    Reply

  4. Marlo
    Dec 05, 2010 @ 02:11:26

    We all know that Child Abuse awarness can be seen on tv news, commercials, Facebook, and BLOGS. Does it mean those watching or reading it have been effected by it? I could not agree more in regards to how “most” will spend a pretty penny for Christmas on either their KIDS, THEMSELVES or their SPOUSE and not even spare a 2o dollar bill for a child with out or neglected. I can not knock them down, I can pray they get opportunities to help a child. I can find alot of things that may not seem effective, but with all this talk I can see this: CARTOON+ CHILD ABUSE AWARNESS= EFFECTIVE. Thanks for posting the links for those to see and hopefully get checked out. Prayfully those unaware do. Lindsey, from time to time I check out your blogs and love your determination to get points across . Miss ya girl!

    Reply

    • lmparks
      Dec 05, 2010 @ 15:14:04

      Thanks, Marlo, for your thoughts! I definitely think that since the first day the cartoon thing started, there has been more talk of the issue. But, I think the talk has still not been about the issue of CHILD ABUSE. Most of the talk has been about whether it was useful or not!

      However, since yesterday morning (when I wrote this blog), I have seen occasional links to child abuse awareness websites and even some videos! THAT is true spreading awareness!!

      Reply

      • Marlo
        Dec 06, 2010 @ 23:19:20

        Well, Then Lindsey you have done a great job! I have to admit I do love the Last comment by “mind denom” very impressive and so well said! It would be tiresome for me to speak on everything FB is posting. I really do not know what FB is for now. I think I will stick to my family and friends in updating my life and keeping in touch with them on theirs and all else I do keep to myself and do quietly off of FB. I love ya and hope to see you soon!

      • Marlo
        Dec 06, 2010 @ 23:21:31

        oops “Mind Detonator” had the wrong spelling my apologies.

  5. mind detonator
    Dec 05, 2010 @ 07:05:19

    Most people still have no idea this fad is linked to child abuse awareness. Some just thought it was a “thing” people were doing. Others havent asked nor cared to find out since people routinely change FB pictures to anything for any reason as it is. Some copy one another. Some are doing it without knowing the agenda. And most who are intentionally participating arent raising any awareness at all on their walls to inform why they are doing it, nor to educate and provide useful links to resources & solutions that would actually raise awareness and help address the problem of child abuse like this blog does simply without the need to be gimmicky and ambiguous.

    Whoever started this thought they were being clever using social media to coerce sheep who need to feel a part of something and follow a trend. But the actual cause is lost in the process as more time and discussion is wasted on cartoons.

    If everyone used their walls to post useful ifo and expressed their thoughts on subjects like child abuse in their own non-copy & pasted words to open up an actual dialog then they’d do a lot more to raise awareness then uploading a picture of donald duck.

    This blog can be found by googling child abuse with no reference to cartoons. The slight chance anyone would google cartoons and click on resources devoted to abuse is negligible. After the trending dies down it will be too random to pinpoint later on. Which is the whole problem with believing cartoon imagery is raising “awareness” on anything but vapid narcissism by the likes of people who join online causes that require no real effort just to “earn” a gold star among their peers also guilty of the triviality.

    The people who engage in it are disingenuous. Their biggest argument is that criticizing it also draws attention to the issue however the reality is the criticism is showing how to properly address awareness on ANY given issue while drawing attention to the motives and personality disorders of the type of people who pretend to do good deeds just to be acknowledged and rewarded for it through validation (otherwise they’d do good without bragging about it). Yet in reality most people would keep walking by if they saw a child in danger. Research the “bystander effect”, social experimentation, youtube public kidnappings and infant dolls left stranded with no one doing anything to get a more realistic sense of how the majority of people dont get involved and look the other way despite how many cartoons take over facebook. This scheme is also raising awareness on hypocrisy.

    Child abuse is a human problem with human faces associated with it. It is a disservice to try and cover it up, to try and make a serious issue “cute” and sugar coat it in nostalgia that only suppresses the harsh reality. The lasting impression that could prompt others to really do something gets muddled in distractions.

    Perhaps a new facebook fad should be shaming people who participate in lofty endeavors and challenging them to become aware of the very topics they pretend to spread awareness about, to show them how it’s actually done and goad them into really participating in some sort of change in the real world that benefits something besides their own ego.

    Reply

    • lmparks
      Dec 07, 2010 @ 00:47:42

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts! You were able to express my own feelings & thoughts on the subject, but in a more eloquent way 🙂

      My only disagreement is with the “disingenuous” participants. Most of the people I know who participated in the cartoon game have a true desire to do good. I believe they were sincere in wanting to spread “awareness”. In no way would I ever want to see them shamed or belittled because they participated in something with a seemingly (although falsely) good purpose.

      Reply

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