Why the Facebook campaign on child abuse is misguided
by Ellie Mae
December 6, 2010 at 11:20 am
Nothing quite brings out my more miserly and rancorous qualities like a Facebook campaign. And the ‘cartoon character’ campaign is no exception.
For those of you yet to have the displeasure, the campaign asks Facebook users to change their profile picture to a cartoon character in order to prevent child abuse. Or raise awareness about child abuse. Or just remind us that ‘abusing kids is bad LOLZ!’
I wasn’t clear on the detail.
In any case, there are two principle reasons for my finding this particular campaign somewhat irksome.
Firstly, I find it irresponsible to promote such an emotive cause without giving any thought as to how that cause is framed. The response to child abuse changes arbitrarily, depending on the contemporaneous narrative of the press.
The usual media response to child abuse stories is to vilify social workers and demand that children are removed from their homes. This response is certain to change the moment the Daily Mail publishes a spurious tale of a child being put into care on superficially ridiculous grounds. Given that these issues can make or break a family unit, and that social workers are under real pressure to respond to whatever the conventional wisdom of the time is, I can’t help recoiling.
It is testament to the hysteria endemic in these types of campaigns that some users have removed their pictures, believing the ‘campaign’ to be hatched by a paedophile ring. What these amorphous paedophiles stand to gain remains unclear; apparently the mere existence of cartoons is now aphrodisiac enough for them.
Secondly, I find these types of campaigns to be both ineffective and misguided. The fact is, the single biggest threat to children at the moment is the imminent and substantial cuts to social service budgets. Social workers are already stretched to their limit: what happens to their ability to help abused children after a grave loss of resources is anybody’s guess.
But instead of trying to resist these measures, hundreds of Facebook users have uploaded a jpg and then patted themselves on the back for a job well done. This type of ineffectual campaigning, in my mind, trivialises genuine efforts to confront issues like child abuse, not least because it encourages people to think that a kitsch gesture is action enough.
True, we are not all tubthumping activists, but there is a middle ground between shutting down Topshop, and a Topcat avatar. A petition to get the issue discussed in parliament, a money-raising drive, or – better yet – sharing information that helps people understand child abuse a little better, would all be more effective than the current effort.
I don’t doubt that those who have changed their pictures are well-intentioned. I also have no issue with social media-based wackiness per se.
But this is a time where taking action against immoral behaviour is imperative. To that end, a campaign that encourages people to believe they can make a change by doing nothing seems incredibly damaging.
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'Open the curtains, throw open the windows and permit the light of investigation and fresh air into family courts and sexual, emotional and physical abuse of the vulnerable - expose the abuse & the abuse of authority of those acting in OUR name! No child asked to be or enjoys abuse, it is for the gratification of the inadequate'.
To understand the Concept & Services of Stolen????-
where you can help yourself and others: StolenKids-
Or perhaps more suited to YOUR needs: StolenChildhood-
4 those facing abuse past or present sexual or other!
4 those where or have suffered abuse within a relationship!
4 those who have been abused or raped by a stranger or stalker
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