Child Abuse is no Cartoon

Friday, December 03, 2010

I'm sorry Facebook Friends, I will not change my profile picture to show how much I hate child abuse.

Aside from the utterly counterintuitive plea to put a human face on child making my icon a cartoon, I don't need to put a human face to child abuse.

I was that face of child abuse.

When I grew up, I took care of children who had been abused by the adults who were supposed to love them. Deprived them of food and medical care, lived with known sexual predators, allowed the new babies father to beat up on the five year old child with another man....Oh yes, I know them all. Some overwhelmed, some addicted or addled, others just beaten down too far under the wheel of generational poverty or abuse to know a different life.

I read the files. I saw the court documents. I was screamed at by the parents who had been found to be guilty of these crimes when I refused to allow them to provide child care to other peoples children.  Not a cartoon character among them.

You want to help? Really?

Because it is going to involve sacrifice. Turning off your computers and getting out into your community, you are going to have to interact with other people who may make you very uncomfortable. You are going to have to do things like call in concerns to child protective service agencies, or maybe even offer to help a parent in a grocery store who looks overwhelmed instead of clucking to yourself under your breath.

You are going to have to offer up more of your salaries in taxes, so programs like WIC and food stamps, and school lunch programs can be expanded. You are going to have to vote for politicians who value quality early childhood education and care and high quality after school care so that parents who are working can know that their child is not home alone or on the street. You are going to have to subsidize higher salaries for the professionals who work in these programs so we know that the highest caliber of teachers are working with these children, because 7.50 an hour isn't much of a living wage.

How about donating money to your local fuel assistance program? Because it is hard to feel safe when you are freezing.

But you know all that, right? Cause you are so dedicated to stopping child abuse that you changed your facebook profile to a cartoon.

I am sure the abused children around the world will sleep easier tonight.

20 Baleful Regards:

Pam said...

Awesome post and very true.

Shanel said...

I wholeheartedly agree and posted my comment on facebook.

Anonymous said...

The idea is to remember our own innocence during childhood because it's so easy to remove ourselves from the ugly fact that sometimes parental guardians and caregivers are the monsters who prey on those who don't have the ability to effectively defend themselves.

Some of us who survived abuse are happy to put a cartoon to our image because, despite surviving a predator, we still found joy in the things meant for the innocent.

Facebook is frivolous. So are cartoons. It's only one tiny aspect of who we are, though.

Dawn said...

I know that facebook is frivolous, and I understand the desire to connect with things we may have found comfort in as children.

So do just that.

What I objected to - and what I know friends who have survived breast cancer have objected to about many of the same types of status updates/games - is the feeling that we are all doing something about the issue at hand.

I have friends on facebook who did choose to change their icons. Am I "unfriending " them? Of course not.

In this culture, where we are happy to elect people who strip the very programs intended to help these same children, or otherwise punish the poor...or listen to people screaming that they are being "deprived" of their money vis a vis taxes when they make salaries of over 250K per year, it makes no sense to me to see cartoon icons stand in for real sacrifice and service to others.

Because that is what it is going to take. Actual sacrifice. A desire to help others external to your own personal well being and that of your immediate family.

I think this is endemic in America, as it stands today. We all want to say we are doing something, when in fact we are doing nothing but covering our own assets (and asses!) while patting ourselves on the collective backs for being involved.

ronda said...

i changed my pic back to normal and i'm sharing your post.

Pamela said...

I do see your point & as a survivor of abuse I am changing my picture back to its original. Facebook is fun and these different little posts & games are good to pass the time but why do it in the name of helping fight child abuse, they do nothing for the cause. Thank you for opening up my eyes....

Amira said...

I didn't and never planned on changing my profile picture. I would like to ask if I can link to your post on my facebook feed though.

Dawn said...

Amira, feel free.

There is a little tab on the right hand column to post to facebook from the blog. I need to figure out how to get the buttons to show up bigger, but haven't had time.

Mitzi Green said...

Hells. Yeah.
because when i logged on the ol' fb tonight and saw that shit, i had to force back the bile that was rising in my throat--just like when i see all the "post your bra color to support breast cancer!" and "post where you put your purse to support (whatever the GDF that was for)!" personally, i prefered the one i tried to start--"in honor of mental health awareness month, change your status to the place you like to take your meds! i'll start--'in my cube at work!'"

and i'm linking to your post because you said exactly what i wanted to say and saved me the brain power. many thanks to you for that.

Mitzi Green said...

and by the way--"run and tell dat"? love it. except now i can't get antoine dodson out my head.

stephanie said...


Thank you! I say this both as a person who grew up in an abusive household, and more importantly, just as a person who loves and cares for kids. This recent facebook game has been making me CRAZY.

What you wrote is perfect.

Amira said...

Loved the run and tell dat too. Seems like there's a little bit of Antoine Dodson in every one of us,ha!

Scott Barron said...

Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts and ideas. I also agree with you and appreciate that you took the time to write so eloquently as not to offend or upset.

I also suffered abuse as a child and support any means of public awareness, but I didn't change my Facebook icon.

As of late, Facebook is becoming a platform for many issues and ideas. I'm just not ready for that level.

ATC said...

I love this.

Too busy to leave real comment. I'm reposting to FB and Twitter though, if that's okay with you.

Patrick D. said...

Well said.

Kerry said...

You know I resisted the entire cartoon thing until my partner picked a cartoon character and amongst friends started discussing why we picked who we did.

He's an abuse survivor, I'm an abuse survivor. I've spent the last year going through reporting,a long investigation, and getting ready for the criminal court case against my abuser (historical case no statute of limitations on child abuse in Canada).

My partner worked for children's aid, in a centre for teen mothers, in juvenile detention centres and in several extended care settings professionally. He took early retirement and now volunteers extensively in the elementary schools.

I'm also involved in our community as a child and parent advocate.

I agree with everything you've said about what needs to be done to change things, but I also think that awareness initiatives that encourage empathy and compassion are important, and that's why I dug down to find a character that I identified with to post as my facebook image.

Unknown said...
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Natalie | Make Today Great said...

Totally sharing this. I cringed when I saw the cartoon character posts. There's nothing cute or funny about child abuse.

Unknown said...

Instead of getting offended that you are angry at those of us who changed our profile pics, I will just have to say...Good for you for putting this out there. I wholeheartedly agree with your views on what needs to be done. I will still have my cartoon character gracing my facebook posts, because I do believe it has started discussions... for example: yours. I hope these discussions will help others take action...

Kyle said...

Someone earlier said "As of late, Facebook is becoming a platform for many issues and ideas. I'm just not ready for that level."

Well that is the point. It SHOULD be a platform for all ideas, and hopefully positive ones more than negative. Sure seeing the random posts of the antics involved with someone's morning commute or what they are eating at any given time or what movie they just saw or who they are/are not dating is fine. So why not be able to share these sentiments as well. I changed my profile pic for many reasons, one of them due to the idea of raising awareness for child abuse.

Yes just changing you profile pic is obviously not enough. Smart people know that. Doing something so small in a closed realm is never going to be enough for ANY issue. However, no one said 'change your profile pic and child abuse is going to magically disappear!' I don't think any one is claiming that at all. But if every time I look at cartoon character on Facebook and I am reminded of this issue, then we are doing our jobs. To keep us aware.

I would also like to add that the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse was November 19, 2010 and part of the reason for the Facebook 'movement'. As I am doing here, I posted the link for The National Child Traumatic Stress Network - , and the American Psychology Association - , in the caption section under my picture of a G.I. Joe character. I did this to not only show my support for the cause but to also share information about this cause. I can't ascertain whether that will make any difference in the future, but if it wasn't for this campaign _I_ would have not even known that there were such things. Now that I know, I am hopefully informing other people and awareness has been raised further.

If Coke and Pepsi and Honda and Avatar and who ever can advertise on my Facebook page why can't I?

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