Facebook Child Abuse Awareness Campaign: Lame? Or Helpful?


Over the last few days a lot of people have been changing their profile photos to the beloved cartoon characters of their childhoods. I noticed on Thursday or Friday morning that a few of my Facebook friends had changed their photos to characters, and thought there must be something up.

Finally one of my friends included an explanation with his change to a cartoon avatar:

“(re: why there are cartoon images on profile pics): This was TOO fun to miss! Change your Facebook 
profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood! The goal is to not see
a human face on Facebook till 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!”

Well, why not? It was fun to see which of my friends chose which cartoon characters, and interesting to see the decade changes in cartoons, depending on friends’ ages. I had fun going down memory lane for just a moment, as I debated between a Peanut’s character and Bugs Bunny. I settled on Charlie Brown, switching mid-weekend to Linus, from the Christmas special. I did a Google image search in both cases to find just the right avatar.

And I was not alone, since millions of people were doing the same thing over the weekend. One Los Angeles Times technology blog post reported that on Saturday morning, the top 20 Google searches were related to old cartoons.

Worthwhile or Worthless?

Did this do ANYTHING to prevent child abuse? Probably not. There was some debate among my friends as to whether this was a scam, an urban myth, or just a lame exercise. Were we all being duped into changing our profile pics for no good reason?

I got into a friendly debate on one of my friend’s posts quoting one of her friends who said that red ribbons for HIV awareness, or pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness, never helped anyone. I pushed back, saying that I don’t agree that awareness campaigns don’t help people (I’ll explain more in a moment). The man who made the statement shared that his point wasn’t about the ribbons per se, but that most of the people who sport the ribbons are in effect posers who don’t volunteer and don’t contribute money to the causes they purport to be supporting. I pushed back again, saying that even if a person’s motive for wearing a ribbon (or changing a profile pic) is not sincere, when others see the ribbon it still brings to mind the cause that is being advertised.

Were all of us who changed our profile pics posers this weekend? How many of us really do anything substantive to end violence against children? Are we hypocrites for following the rest of the crowd by jumping on board with a fun, but shallow, exercise? Or, did we actually raise some awareness about curbing child abuse?

I’m of two minds about this. Do I think awareness campaigns work? Yes. But I’ll add this caveat: they work when well organized by legitimate organizations. Did this campaign to raise awareness about child abuse work? Perhaps. But in a way it was a wasted exercise precisely because it wasn’t well organized.

But boy did it show the power of social media, and I believe it holds a powerful message for non-profit organizations that want to create positive change in the world.

Awareness Campaigns Do Work

Here’s why I think awareness campaigns are effective. I worked for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) San Diego County in the late 1980s. MADD pioneered the use of red ribbons to raise awareness about drunk driving during the holidays, before the symbol was co-opted by HIV/AIDS organizations (It’s now referred to as the “Tie One On For Safety” campaign). We distributed thousands of red ribbons stapled to info cards that warned of the dangers of impaired driving. In San Diego County we did such a good job of distributing ribbons, it was hard to go anywhere without seeing a red ribbon on someone’s car antennae from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

Thanks to the massive awareness effort by MADD chapters across the country, drunk driving fatalities fell consistently each year. People thought twice about getting behind the wheel after drinking. Designated drivers became the norm. Friends were not letting friends drive drunk. And because of all that, countless people got home safely instead of being killed by a drunk or impaired driver.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when pink ribbons were everywhere. Even NFL players were sporting pink ribbons, pink shoes, and pink gloves during games. My friend told me that seeing the show of pink all over was comforting. It let her know that she was not alone, and that millions of people were rooting for breast cancer patients to be cured, and for the disease to be eradicated.

These campaigns worked, because non-profit organizations mounted well-publicized campaigns to educate the public about their causes. MADD didn’t ask volunteers to distribute the ribbons to friends with only the most basic of explanations of what the ribbons were for. MADD planned for months ahead of the holidays how to educate as many people as possible through media interviews, public service announcements, and speeches at schools, businesses, military bases, and other venues.

Lesson for Non-Profits

While I’m dubious about the motives of this latest mass profile picture change exercise, it does illustrate the power of social media. That power can be harnessed to bring about positive change, when harnessed properly.

Non-profit leaders take notice: with some careful planning your cause could be the next major social media trend. But you’ll have to be creative about it, because sooner or later those of us on social media sites will grow weary of too many appeals.

For me, ribbons and bracelets are done. The first few organizations that utilized them were effective, but when dozens of other non-profits started using the same symbols in different colors, it definitely lost some punch for me. Changing profile pictures – which has already been done a few times in the past year – is going to get old, as well.

What do you think? Was this past weekend’s Facebook trend a useful or useless exercise?


  1. Lisa says:

    THIS IS FROM NYPD Hispanic Society post so its leggit: It appears people who are asking everyone to change their profile picture to their favorite cartoon characters is actually a group of pedophiles. They’re doing it because kids will accept their friend requests faster if they see a …cartoon picture. It has nothing… to do with supporting child violence… It was on the news tonight! PLEASE RE-POST THIS ASAP!!!

  2. pammarino says:

    Thanks for passing this along, Lisa. I’ve been thinking lately that there should be an effort in schools to teach kids good social media habits, to help them protect their privacy, and to steer clear of adults and bullies who mean them harm. I’m wondering now if Facebook should have everyone – kids and adults – go through a short tutorial on cyber safety and scams as a condition of membership.

  3. pammarino says:

    Snopes.com has labeled both the awareness campaign and the notion that it’s a way for pedophiles to contact children hoaxes. I’m doubtful that it would make it easier for pedophiles to “friend” children, however, I am concerned about the Facebook pages that have popped up concerning child abuse awareness. I could see where altruistic people of any age could join a group, and then be vulnerable to personal info being mined. I would not join these pages, or any sort of pages, unless created by a legitimate organization.

  4. This is a great question, and I thought of that as I began seeing all these cartoon characters pop up over the site. As a mentor to young teenage girls, and many my FB friends, I found it important to let all young people know child abuse is not right. We have no idea what some kids are going through, and maybe this one appeal gave courage to them. If so, it was worth it.

  5. I totally agree: When you’re jumping on the bandwagon, that means there’s inherently already a wagon. The most effective awareness campaigns involve creating the wagon and then adding followers.

  6. Teri says:

    I am sure it raised awareness, as many people changed their photos – you blogged about it, you got PRESSED (Congratulations!) and I’m sure other media outlets are discussing this as well. It all raises awareness…

    Now, does awareness do anything to protect our children? I don’t know…


  7. runtobefit says:

    I do think awareness campaigns work…even if they help just one person…that is better than nothing.


  8. theresawiza says:

    I am still trying to survive breast cancer (just under 5 years to go before I can consider myself to be in remission). I think anything that brings awareness to all of these topics is worthwhile, though at times they seem a little silly. None of us are in a position to help every organization in ways that bring an end to cancer, child abuse, or any of a number of other problems that plague us, but what we can do is bring awareness so that when something in particular touches us, we may feel inspired to actually do something about the issues we feel so strongly about. I wrote a book to help children between the ages of 2 and 8 empower themselves in situations of child abuse. I invite you and your readers to download a free copy of it here. http://www.archive.org/details/YouAreTheBossOfYourBodyAGuideToPreventingChildSexualAbuse

  9. Fascinating post! I blog from Haiti, where my partner does disaster response for a major international NGO. Her organization has even added a senior vice-president for social media. I know they believe in the power of social networking to create change.

    Thanks for this great post, and congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  10. nydeuces says:

    Check out my blog, I wrote an article on this subject as well.

  11. jill says:

    Well, I jumped on the bandwagon of fun and posted Nancy, then Mighty Mouse, then Blondie. It caused me to research child abuse and found out April is the month for it and posted the link about it for MO on my facebook page. I will be aware of what is going on to prevent child abuse and can help with the effort.

  12. I also jumped into that Facebook bandwagon, and I was alarmed with Lisa’s comment so I did a little search. I found something on Yahoo!


    It was a bit of a relief that it was just a rumor, but I will try my best to think before acting.

  13. dielle76 says:

    I often comment about ribbons and ribbon magnets and all the other “gimmicks” that supposedly raise awareness. In that respect, sure they work. You see pink, what do you think of? Didn’t this whole ribbon thing start with “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”? Sorry, I got sidetracked…anyway, I’m all for anything and everything that raises awareness and keeps a topic “in your face”, but it still bugs me. Only because it makes me wonder, how much money is being raised for the fight? Is this helping find a cure? Does waving a ribbon, wearing a ribbon, magnetizing a ribbon actually contribute in any way that makes a difference? Are there less children being abused, are doctors and scientists working any harder for the cures because of all the ribbons, are soldiers being brought back home? I think not. When people in this hurried world take the TIME to stop what they are doing and make an actual monetary donation or actually volunteer their time at a shelter or join CASA or something, then we might see some change. Maybe better still…speak up and speak out America! Keeping problems in the dark and never acknowledging them makes it worse. Where were we? Oh yes, ribbons….go for it…but then, please, take the extra step and make a real, physical, active, positive contribution toward whatever cause you really care about.

  14. Mrs. O says:

    NSPCC is what the page on Facbook listed as the organization which is a charity in the UK. The only problem I had with it was, if you were an American, just know the month in the US for child abuse awareness month is April and the ribbon color is blue.
    There are many disturbed people who can grab your name from these liked pages but if you have your settings right, you don’t have to accept them as friends. Some do not discriminate enough and should be concerned but not because of the people, but because well, they don’t discriminate in the right way……
    These groups do help to a degree.

  15. enjoibeing says:

    awareness campaigns are good because even if you get one person thinking then at least you did your job telling someone. very good post though and congrats on being freshly pressed


  16. I changed my profile pic to a cartoon because I wanted to. I really didn’t think twice about violence against children, and I certainly didn’t think my profile changing was helping anyone.

    I found it laughable to receive the request and even more so to receive the warning about pedophiles. RIDIC!

    P.S. – If you want combat the overfishing in Northeastern rivers and the poaching of Salmon by Black Bears, then change your profile picture to a Salmon.

  17. Ben Umnus says:

    Lol I never heard about this until now, but it makes sense now why my fiance’s picture is a carebear right now. Yeah child abuse is something to not take lightly and I feel it’s very safe to say most people support certain efforts in child abuse prevention, but the Facebook thing is too silly to me as the writer here said, because it does nothing to help the cause and you’ll run into people who are just changing their picture in order to be like “oh that’s cool that I have a cartoon image.” I feel It would have been better to at least have people change their statuses with the mentioning child abuse and urge some sort of donation towards a local organization which assists abused women and children.

  18. Todd Pack says:

    I’m like you. I like seeing what cartoon characters people post, but I’m not sure how changing my profile picture to Bugs Bunny is going to stop some drunk guy from smacking his girlfriend’s kid.

    As awareness campaigns go, this one seems like it’s preaching to the choir.

    P.S. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Glad I found the blog!

  19. elenasc says:

    This is a very interesting topic, but while I was reading it it came to my mind an article that I read few week ago about the very high presence of kids (even fetuses) online.
    This because parents aren’t too worried about posting pictures of their kids online, even if their kids are not even born yet.

    ( you can read it here http://wp.me/pXsUB-p6)

    I’m just saying this to make everybody think about small things that we do without maybe understand 100% the consequences.

    Changing you profile picture can be good, but let’s protect our kids for real!
    Thank you for this post.


  20. hearttypat says:

    I changed mine too.. and today I wondered… how did everybody, me included, helped?

  21. Lenore Diane says:

    I agree with many of the above comments. And, congrats to theresawiza’s nearly 5yrs of being cancer-free. As she said, anything that brings awareness to health and safety issues is worthwhile. Though battling many of the issues takes more than changing a profile picture or wearing a ribbon. Still, awareness is a start.
    Great post, Pam!

  22. Amy says:

    It’s not supposed to do anything to prevent aside from letting people know that it is an issue and that people are paying attention to it. And I posted something about the act in a status… and I happen to be sixteen. Does that make me a pedophile? D: Gee, I didn’t know.

  23. I’ve been involved with social activism (gay rights, education, a couple of other issues) for many years. I’ll admit up front that my attitude to this point is cynical, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have hope: People’s awareness of an issue stops beyond the self-imposed boundaries of their lives. They tend to take personal action only after an issue crosses that boundary.

    The cynical part is my personal observation that online “activism” is an utter failure unless it prompts people to leave their keyboards, go out and do something personally. Unless it has that explicit goal, it becomes a waste of my time to participate. So long as people are comfortable inside their boudaries, I have zero expectation of them, regardless of the issue.

    You’ve posted an excellent essay. Thanks for that, and for prompting discussion.

  24. ilanlp14 says:

    Thanks for sharing this great post!!!

  25. Claire says:

    It’s certainly been an interesting exercise, but in the long run I don’t see how it can make a difference – the people committing the abuse won’t care that people are changing their profile pictures, and changing the picture isn’t going to help the people who have to identify it, report it and deal with the fallout – teachers, social workers, other family members.

    RE: breast cancer awareness, I agree that they market it really well, but one thing will forever annoy me about it. Men aren’t allowed to compete in the Race For Life. Why not? Men can be affected by breast cancer, either by knowing people who have it or by getting it themselves. More men proportionally die from breast cancer, simply because they’re not aware that they can get it. Perhaps that’s an issue that could be addressed by one of these awareness-raising campaigns, as that would definitely make a difference!

  26. Of course it doesn’t “do” anything, but who cares? I’m more amazed at the fuss this raised over people changing their pictures on Facebook en masse. It shows that we can mobilize people with the right incentives, I think. In my view, the most compelling thing about this was seeing everyone’s memories coming across in such a way and then watching other bitter human beings trying to tarnish the experience.

  27. Hello,
    I was aware that’s what was going on was a nice “sheep effect”!
    I am writing now about sheep effect, feel free to visit my blog 🙂

  28. I heard this discussed on the radio. I don’t have facebook, but I’m still shifty of this. Is this good or bad? People seem to be doing it for a good cause, but could it be a trick?

  29. bmj2k says:

    Wow. Getting the average Facebook user to change their picture into a cartoon is like shooting slacker fish in a barrel. Sure, some people here looked into the issue, and that’s great, but they are the vast, tiny minority. With everything on Facebook little more than a game, this is nothing more than “cartoon picture-ville.”

  30. leeceebee says:

    I thought it was kind of odd when I saw that my teen cousin had requested that FB friends turn their [profile] picture into a cartoon character. Unless I see it on the news or newspaper, I don’t jump into doing things like this.

  31. valenteusa says:

    (@Teri) Finally, someone looking at the positive of this awareness kick. I agree with you completely. I didn’t know anything about this campaign to raise awareness until Saturday night. I noticed within my FB newsfeed, and my friend’s posted status explained the whole thing. (I went with Scooby Doo by the way.) It was supposed to be done for the weekend and I believe that the awareness campaign was a success.
    I disagree with the author questioning if it was lame. It really did raise awareness, and as you’ve stated Teri, the author of this post, did get pressed, which further raises awareness, and it’s Monday; the day the campaign was to come to a close. Television and radio stations have been talking about it as well, so the purpose was definitely served. Now that awareness has been raised, hopefully their will be more of a concrete effort to implement other ways of protecting kids from predators when their parents aren’t there to help them.

  32. I think the campaign is worthless. Of course none of us are pro-beating someone. What does a cartoon profile pic do for it?


  33. Is there anybody else who refuses to do ANYTHING that people on Facebook ask you to do? Or is that just me being contrary again? All this, “copy and paste this to your status” stuff annoys me, even if the cause is good. Perhaps I’ve joined the ranks of the bitter…..

  34. aka gringita says:

    I really applaud the awareness this raised – if even a small % of that translates into some good being done about it. I really struggled with this particular campaign however… in that the instructions were to go get a cartoon image (someone’s copyrighted work) and use it as a profile pic. On the one hand, the owners of those copyrights might be really pleased, honored, and supportive of their work being used in this way, but I don’t feel like it’s up to ME (or any of us) to decide that FOR them. I had a hard time thinking that stealing someone else’s intellectual property was the way to go about this.

    A coordinated campaign, from a recognized organization and a centralized site to access approved-for-this-use artwork (supported by the artists/owners themselves and perhaps with links to places we could donate or volunteer to help with the cause) would have been better, IMO.

  35. honeybee says:

    I think more often than not, people changed their pic because it was FUN to do, and fun to look at which ones your friends chose. And fun to feel like a part of something that is good. I think a lot of charity has to do more with feeling good about onesself (I did such a good thing, Im so proud of me!) than actually helping someone else.

    But if we didnt have anyone who did get the word out, and did want to genuinely help things would be even worse.

    The cartoon thing? Eh. Pointless. Harmless, but pointless.

    Do you think a father who is about to beat their child, or a mother who is about to kill hers, would stop and think… “Wait… all those ppl on facebook with cartoon pictures oppose what Im doing! I will stop right now and get help!”?

  36. Jade Jarvis says:

    There are several reports stating that the cartoon change is related to a group of pedophiles. This was not the motivating force in creating this trend. Here’s the link to the fan page that sparked the craze: http://on.fb.me/ehGueb. On the fan page contains numerous links to child protection agencies where you can locate more information about child abuse.

    I agree with Franklin in that people tend to overlook things that don’t directly affect them. Whether you changed you profile pic or not, most would agree that child abuse should end. The trend did help to bring awareness to child abuse and I’m sure many people were inspired to become more proactive in solving the issue.

    Feel free to check out my inspiration blog at: http://inspiremylife.wordpress.com.

    Thank you for interesting and timely blog!

  37. I am always asked to changed my profile picture for this cause or that cause but I never did it until this one. It was a great cause and got national and internationsl media attention = major success.

    Great post.



  38. I think the major point of this campaign was to remind us all we were once kids who enjoyed silly cartoons and laughed in awe of them; that we once believed in Santa Claus; that we once believed our parents could lift up every obstacle in the world; how fragile and happy we were and how easily could a person that little be hurt if we, the grown ups, are not careful with our actions towards them. Most people just forget what it was like being a kid.
    Campaigns seldom fix things in the short term, but by getting us in touch with our younger selves we’ll think it twice before even hurting the feelings of a kid.
    Congrats on being pressed! (and with that keeping the snowball rolling)

  39. if i had changed mine, it wouldve been to voltron, but i just dont get how it raises awareness?
    though, i guess, it cant hurt, right?

  40. danablair says:

    I actually just started a discussion about this on 20sb.net. As a non-profit communications professional, I’ve seen non-profits try to embrace this new way of reaching people — going where the people are. While awareness is great, the movement to action is not happening at the same rate. Child abuse is a serious issue and making light of it in this way isn’t going to compel people to donate to an organization that works to eradicate it, or get people to volunteer, or really anything. It’s just not enough. We need to use this new voice to get new advocates to become activists.

  41. ashmolitor says:

    I thought the stunt was a little bit silly, but I definitely agree with the assertion that social media is a very powerful tool for non-profits. With some careful planning and the right approach, it is the fastest, most effective way to reach billions of people. It really has the potential to revolutionize the way non-profits advertise, fundraise, etc.

  42. Kirstin says:

    Thanks for posting and congrats on being pressed! As a survivor of child abuse, I did not feel honored or feel that the Facebook Cartoon takeover benefited myself or children being abused. Sure, awareness can help people think about the issue, but for the most part I don’t really see a lot of people doing the research behind it and actually doing anything to support it. This author is completely right in that it would need to be highly organized and educational in order to really bring change. Awareness for child abuse is extremely difficult because it can be such a taboo subject. People that know a child is being abused rarely reaches out to them or reports it because of fear of ruining that family, when in all honesty, that family is being ruined by the abuse. I have asked all of my friends on FB to think about why they are changing their pictures and consider really doing the research on child abuse and what you can do to help. I plan on putting together some great links and information on my FB for my friends to see and hopefully that can help.


  43. Kirstin says:

    Here is an article on awareness that my brother sent me a link to…. somewhat comical, yet true.


  44. Every time there’s some Facebook fad (e.g., the breast cancer awareness status updates about bra colors or where you keep your purse, or this one, of course) I wonder how, exactly, it helps. Does it raise awareness? Yes, at least in some way, and that is certainly a good thing. But in my experience, most people change their profile picture or their status because it’s fun. They don’t then, in turn, start advocating to end child abuse or donate money to the Susan G. Komen foundation.
    However, that is the average person, and so I’m sure at least someone made their profile picture Snoopy or Doug and then did something to help end child abuse, and if you look at it that way, every little bit counts. If even one person becomes aware of an issue this way and then helps, it’s worth it, right?
    I don’t really know, I’m just kind of rambling what’s in my brain because your post was so thought-provoking. 🙂 Long story short, while it might not actually help in any way, awareness is always a positive, and at least there’s no harm in having a cute profile cartoon for a while. (Plus, I agree–it’s SO interesting to see what cartoons people identify with!)
    And congrats on being Freshly Pressed–I love the blog!

  45. I agree, changing you profile picture like wearing a pink, red, yellow, or blue ribbon doesn’t make a difference. To make a difference one has to actually get involved. That means supporting the cause and with your time, money, possessions, and ect.

  46. Crazy says:

    I think people would be better served raising awareness through the proper channels like supporting the NSPCC. Its all good and well changing your profile picture, nice action but I think doing more than a photo change on Facebook is what will end child abuse, non?

  47. poindextr says:

    Very good points. I was wondering the same thing as I selected a cartoon character for my own profile image. On a personal level, I don’t have a single additional piece of information that I might need to detect, report or help in cases or child abuse. So I’d say the campaign was not successful. It needs to be linked to a reliable source of information. How can we spread awareness if there is nothing to learn?

  48. ryoko861 says:

    I got the same thing jsut now on a friend’s profile that Lisa just posted. I didn’t even know what was going on. Another friend questioned why everyone was changing their profile pics so to just bust her chops I changed mine to Lucy Van Pelt. It was just for fun. I had NO idea it was for some child abuse post.

    Just a lame exercise. Someone is probably laughing their ass off right now thinking they were able to get a million people to change their profile pic.

  49. Hearten Soul says:

    I changed my picture – the link to old cartoons seemed a nice idea. I also ‘liked’ the NSPCC page and read about how they did not start the campaign but welcomed the positive awareness it has brought them. The most helpful thing has probably been the discussions like this about what might actually help in addressing child abuse. I think the NSPCC is a good place to start – they have lots of opportunities for volunteering. I don’t know if it was a wasted exercise since it doesn’t seem like it was an exercise at all.

  50. Meghan says:

    I find these sort of campaigns on Facebook to be generally useless – they give people the notion they are helping a cause by doing something that requires no effort. Is this the best message to send? I’d love to see a campaign that encouraged people to upload a profile picture of themselves participating in some sort of service project in their community. Now THAT would be inspiring! 🙂

  51. Harmless request with a positive upside. Sure it’s not as effective as direct action, but I’m always leery about attempts to suppress the desire of ordinary people to state their opinions, even if it’s about something obvious. If we say that only people who pull out their chequebooks can create change, it becomes a slippery slope.

  52. Great blog. I didn’t know what was going on but now I do. Thanks for posting this. I believe it has brought some awareness because it’s feeding it’s purpose. People are now talking about prevention of child abuse. I definitely think if something so small can raise eyebrows then yeah it’s worth it. Sepi.

  53. Really nice post. I actually think it doesn’t make any sense but i think its fun 🙂

  54. I thought that was a part of the Facebook way of keeping people interested, like when we start doing the wave at a ball game. Once you do it an suggest it to others you want to see what characters your friends will pick. It was a cute idea and what is wrong with trying to bring up a little awareness? Congrats on getting freshly pressed.

  55. alison hlady says:

    Excellent article, Pam. I don’t think these “campaigns” on Facebook are anything more than showing how powerful social media is, as you suggest. I’m a cynic for some of these awareness campaigns. I’m pretty sure the cartoon pictures aren’t actually helping child abuse (how many parents are neglecting their children right now to play Farmville on Facebook?). I find the ribbons and colors an interesting social experiment – you mention the NFL players wearing pink – is it coincidence that they support finding a cure for breast cancer at the same time they have scantilly dressed cheerleaders showing off their breasts? Shouldn’t these men be more concerned about prostate cancer (or heart disease, since it kills more people every year than breast cancer)? Every ribbon worn, or color dressed makes me wonder, is that really helping? All it makes me do is think of what is being overlooked – so maybe that makes it effective after all.

  56. Lakia Gordon says:

    You know, someone mentioned this to me the other day. In my opinion, a pedophile doesn’t have to use a cartoon pic to get you to befriend him or her. If they wanted they could use a child’s photo or someone younger in age. I understand the purpose behind the cartoon, but aren’t there other ways? IDK.

  57. stupid.

  58. I believe social media awareness or donation campaigns can work for nonprofits, but not by following the format set by the child abuse awareness campaign (or the earlier bra color/handbag campaigns for breast cancer awareness) of being vague or confusing. What would have worked for this campaign is if the main request included (at a minimum) solid stats about child abuse, websites/organizations that have more information, places to donate or volunteer. But the biggest thing missing was a call to action, besides “joining the fight against child abuse” by changing their picture. No one (that I saw) was telling people to volunteer for or donate to an organization that helps abused children.

  59. That’s actually not legitimate, it’s a hoax.

    1.There’s no article. http://www.abc.com/ If the status you read contains a link (or a partial) it was probably to a story the person didn’t even bother to read, about the Facebook cartoon picture trend itself as it relates to child abuse awareness. Another Internet rumor.. No one can name what “news” it was on. They just managed to get lots of people to copy & paste a horribly spelled rumor.

  60. I think awareness campaigns like this are valuable in the sense that they are a way for us to publicly state what issues are important to us, and hopefully generate questions from people who want to know more.
    I have an “Autism Awareness” ribbon magnet on the back of my car, and this has prompted a couple of people to approach me in supermarket parking lots with statements like, “A friend of a friend has a child with autism, but I don’t really know much about it.” I’ve answered their questions, and they’ve left with more understanding than they had before. The point of these campaigns is to get people thinking about the issues.
    Did the cartoon picture thingy work? I don’t know, but it got me thinking more about the child abuse issue than I usually do, and it has prompted an excellent post that no doubt has people thinking as well.
    Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  61. Evie Garone says:

    I’m not a sheep, and don’t usually follow the trends that flow through FB, but a niece of mine posted to put a Cartoon character and it happened to catch my interest, so I DID! Maybe it was as simple as that for some people…I love Tweety bird & that’s who I downloaded! Lighten up! My God! Whatever!


  62. This all started in Latinamerica actually, some of us changed our profile pics with a deadline until the last day of November, and it was amongst my hispanic friends, it seems the trend crossedover .. just a note .

  63. I was iffy about jumping on this band wagon as well, because I didn’t feel like it was really doing anything to prevent children from getting abused. I’ve also been reading about how people are claiming this is a huge hoax. Either way, thank you for reminding us of the power of social media and the potential for creating a sense of unity that ribbons, bracelets, and social media can have on individuals.

  64. Jose says:

    I love the intention behind this social network activity, and while i can choose to be skeptical about its true impact, decided to enjoy changing my pic to my favorite cartoon as a kid. And yes, I have kids of my own and I did want to voice my obvious position on the matter.

    Your post plays a vital role in this social phenomenon because it make us reflect beyond the simple activity of changing our profile pic. Will we do something if ever we find ourselves in the position to save a child from this horror? It’s not always a simple choice, but I believe, its the little things, like this post that makes the thought linger on even after time has passed and if ever the task presents itself we may recall our current discussion and it may turn into action. It all falls upon each of us that chose to participate. Are we ready to take action if necessary? Hmm…food for thought….

    Thanks so much for posting this insight, it does not surprise me that this post was freshly pressed. Great work!

  65. mariliza says:

    the nypd Hispanic society would not have that kind of intell information, plus they would not share it on the web, instead it would be broadcasted on tv..and as you can see it was not on that nights news.. this is just another post someone invented and is spreading thru the web.. awareness works even if it help just one person or better yet one childs life..

  66. fireygoddess says:

    Lame. I’m a therapist – so yes we need to have the discourse and vocab out there so everyone talks more about it. However.. on fbk?
    I’m tired of fbk being used as a guilt laiden status update when it’s my place for self-expression.
    Status updates is not the place for it but the conversation is important.

  67. Vanessa Rima says:

    Parents and school should teach kids more about social media habits, to protect them from pedophiles and bullies.

    Vanessa Rima

  68. pammarino says:

    I thought the same thing about the cheerleaders! But I get that these guys have moms, and wives and daughters, so I think it’s great the NFL chose to participate. And, as an earlier commenter noted, men get breast cancer, too!

  69. pammarino says:

    Ooh, good idea, Meghan! May I borrow that for the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day? I’ll give you credit!

  70. iceman18 says:

    I had just published the following blog entry when I learned what was behind all the cartoon characters showing up on facebook. At this point, any awareness is “good awareness” for what can be referred to as “our nations shame”.

    I would like to share something that is deeply personal to me. It serves as an illustration of what you can do when you get the “yuck out” and your life is given back to you.

    I have a goal, or a “higher purpose”, as the folk’s in AA say. My higher purpose has been a guiding light to get sober, stay sober, and also serve as an inspiration to reach outside of myself and give back in a small way.

    Prior to falling off the rails and into alcoholism, I was involved with helping a child abuse prevention center get off the ground and running. Sadly, at a time when they needed me most, which is always the case in a non-profit, I resigned from my volunteer post. I did that because it was getting in the way of my drinking. We can all fill in the blanks in some way on that one!

    Now here’s the good/fun stuff. I am getting back involved with my child abuse prevention interest and have found an even greater capacity to help, having walked through the trail of tears myself. That’s the good news!

    The fun, is a video that I’d like to share with you that sums it all up. I made reference to this the other day. I am a big fan of Mary J. Blige. Not only because she is a great talent, but because of her own struggles with addiction and abuse that she has overcome. So, enjoy the music and lyrics if you care to take a look.

    Go to http://www.vevo.com. Type in Mary J Blige at the Search and scroll down to the song “Each Tear”. There are multiple versions of the song but I am partial to the one that includes the Italian singer. So look for Each Tear (Italian version). May it inspire you today! I have no personal or promotional interest btw…other than fun and inspiration. Godere!

  71. I just did a mini post about this when I read response to a question asked on answerology. There quite a myriad of answers. The explanation is quite interesting. Check it out at nightstars1015.wordpress.com

  72. pammarino says:

    Thanks, Kirstin. I think that’s great that you asked your friends to think about it, and that you are going to put together some links. I’m very sorry you were abused, but congratulations for considering yourself a survivor and for trying to bring about good for others.

  73. Meghan says:

    Well of course you can!

  74. pammarino says:

    Well, I’m not a guy, but thanks for reposting my blog! I appreciate it.

  75. pammarino says:

    Thank you! And thanks for commenting.

  76. pammarino says:


  77. lame.

  78. Aigars says:

    A very useful article for me. I am learning about this, so very big thanks for posting!

    Best Wishes!

  79. islandmomma Life on a Small Island and Beyond says:

    I totally agree with everything you say. I can’t think of a thing to add. Raising awareness helps for sure. We don’t all have enough money to give to every good cause we’d like to be able to give to. I have my “favorites”, but if I can do a bit more by helping raise awareness I see that as a good thing. I believe that the English charity National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children in UK might have benefited from a mistaken idea they had created the idea, so some good came. The probably happened elsewhere too I think. My friends list is very international, and people of all countries participated.

    Many congrats on being Freshley Pressed!

  80. sassytalk says:

    Nice cozy idea…raising awareness – but was one less child abused today? Did someone who COULD do something – actually DO something about a child they know that might be in crisis….or where we all too busy selecting the cartoon that resembled us the most?

  81. It probably didn’t accomplish much, but it didn’t hurt anything. I’m assuming most people did it mostly for fun.

  82. pammarino says:

    Thank you!

  83. pammarino says:

    Thank you, Jose!

  84. pammarino says:

    Thank you, runningforautism!

  85. Alexandra says:

    My first thought when I saw this Facebook trend was that it does nothing to combat child abuse. Personally, I find using Facebook to be an exercise that only enhances vanity. This campaign is just another way people will be able to “express” themselves on Facebook…in other words: another way for people to focus on themselves. I do not think this or other Facebook awareness campaigns do much to help their causes; but rather, influence Facebook users to become even more self-consumed.

  86. tzme says:

    It wouldnt be rewardful for a pedifile to make a “Child abuse awareness Campagne”. I mean yes if you wanted a child to add you it could be helpful. However to the million of other normal people who wouldnt be adding children it does nothing but go against what they wanted in the first place..AKA the Pedifiles lost there purpose? The pedifile thing is a hoax 🙂

  87. Chantal Lyons says:

    I donated money to a children’s charity after I changed my Facebook picture to a cartoon character. So yes, in a small way it did help.

  88. lidiako says:

    I think that FB cartoon profiles somewhow work. I mean,maybe it’s not a proper advertising campaign, it’s rather a PR campaing(so called ‘word of mouth’). Anyway, great article:)

  89. Brian says:

    Instead of all the silly cartoon posting on profiles, maybe we should all be making donations instead. I fail to see how adding some cartoon character to a profile will actually affect anyone in this world. It just says, “Hey, I support the cause without ever having to get up and do anything about it.” I would recommend places like these:


  90. rebelcrafter says:

    Somebody tell me who the person is that ISN’T aware of child abuse? In that way, the “campaign” is lame. But it is fun to see which cartoons people pick. In that spirit, I think we should rename this campaign the “Old-timey Cartoon Character Awareness Campaign.”

  91. ychi says:

    My character is Tintin. He’s Belgian – gotta love him.

  92. pcoxhooten says:

    I think it is very important to let people know that not everyone out in cyberspace has good intentions. I don’t give out more information than necessary.

  93. nigeil says:

    I actually just wrote about “facebook awareness movements” yesterday (ironic, right?). Anyways, I happen to be against them in the realm of facebook land, as they are mostly done for fun and tend to make people have a false sense of “nobleness” while doing it. They think they are helping make a change, when in reality what they have done has made a minuscule impact (if any at all). I’m going to reblog this anyways, because it is a very nice article. Just an opinion!

  94. sandyhawkins says:

    I had fun with it…my friends and I shared pictures of cartoons that were our favorites from the 60’s and seventies…I didn’t feel scammed at all.

  95. Hello There,

    I didn’t change my profile picture (well, I did, but it was to a Rolling Stones album cover). I do agree that awareness campaigns work to an extent, however, I believe that this latest effort on Facebook did absolutely nothing but bring awareness to cartoons from the past and that’s it (Karate Kat being one of them). If people in this day and age aren’t aware that there is child abuse, then they’re living in a cave and not getting out of it. Child abuse is an unfortunate reality in our world and I agree that everything must me done to stop it, however, changing a profile picture which in the end looks very little unless you click on that profile itself really doesn’t do much. I believe that an open discussion on this and any other issue is important to bring real awareness to a cause or problem because like you say, eventually changing profile pictures on Facebook or any other social outlet will get old and do nothing. I’m not sure it prompted people to get up off their seats and do something about child abuse. Maybe it did. I don’t know.

    Oh! And let’s not forget that Lance Armstrong bracelet thingy. Who is wearing any of those now? They ended up getting all sort of colors for all sort of different reasons (I’ve seen them for anything from Gay Marriage to one that said “Jerusalem” on it). It’s not a bad thing but look, I don’t think anyone pays attention to it rather than to say “They’re wearing a bracelet”. Maybe that’s just me but like you, I’m over the whole ribbon and bracelet thing and it really is time to revolutionize awareness campaigns into something not just noticeable but productive as well.

    Thank you.

  96. callmeams says:

    As a survivor of child abuse, I think it’s amazing that so many people took the time to search out something fond from their childhood and share that with the world. Child abuse that is something that is only in the recent past been given a front seat. It has been a kept a dirty little secret and that has allowed it to grow and progress. Changing a profile picture might seem like a small, insignifcant act to some; but it speak loudly to those who have been abused and to those abusers. People are aware, they do care, and they are watching.

  97. They key is awareness, and if changing your profile picture on Facebook helps even one organisation… count me in. It can only be a good thing in the end.

  98. callmeams says:

    and just to note, when I was a child being abused if I would have seen so many people coming together in this way I may be been more likely to tell someone what was happening to me. I may not have felt so alone and isolated.

  99. The whole thing really just shows how willing people are to jump on any bandwagon. First everyone posts it because they think they’re helping children, then everyone removes them because they hear that it’s a cover for pedophiles to lure children to their pages. It’s a great human experiment to show how pathetic the race is, how willing people are to buy into whatever is popular because they don’t want to be the odd one out.

    I’d like to start a trend where every hot girl on Facebook posts a nude picture of themselves as their profile picture to, uh… help raise awareness of skin cancer. Yeah, that’s it. 🙂

  100. veretax says:

    My main problem with this farce, is that it seems to be just another in a long line of chain status message type things. I’ve been skeptical of chain mail since I got my first one on the internet. You know the type, pass this on and Microsoft my donate a penny or two per email or some such. While Agree with the sentiment of the cause. There are multiple problems.

    First it doesn’t take much intelligence to follow or ignore one of these campaigns. How many people who are potential pedophiles will do this just to try and hide behind it? Its like the spirit week we used to have in HS. I understood wearing a shirt with the school name on it one day. Trying to dress like someone else (twin day), but I failed to understand things like switch gender day, and so forth. At some point we as human beings need to exercise a little reasoning.

    Point 1: Most Child abusers are close in proximity or familiarity to the victim.
    Point 2: Because of Point 1 it is very difficult to identify whom they are. They don’t always look wonky as per the popular myth.
    Point 3: Even if we assume we all have good discretion in our friends, and family on FB, how many pedophiles will have their twisted behavior changed because of the campaign.
    Point 4: Such a campaign does little to actually raise awareness. It failed to provide things to look for, watch out for, or anything that might be practical except as a stunt.

    This is why I didn’t participate.

  101. Somehow I think that it’s just as important to feel comforted by solidarity as it is to contribute monetarily. Like how your friend who had breast cancer felt comforted seeing pink everywhere, no matter the reason behind it. Personally, I volunteer for a program called Free Arts (freearts.org) that provides arts and crafts activities to underprivileged or abused kids, though I don’t feel that made changing my picture on facebook more valid than someone else doing it. Not everything in the world is on such a large scale. My being there for one friend in trouble is just as important as paying money to a worldwide cause against child abuse. Just my thought.

  102. biographer4you says:

    It did actually bring awareness, at least to my Facebook friends. At least three people posted links to sites that assist abused children throughout the world. Obviously, there is great awareness in that, especially since I passed it on through “share.”

    And, it was just fun to see what cartoons people chose. Definitely reflected their personalities and how they saw themselves. 🙂

  103. callmeams says:

    No, the father or mother who is about to hurt their child isn’t going ot stop and think. But the child who has just been beaten may just feel not so alone and find the courage from the unity shown to tell someone what is happening to them.

  104. zach says:

    Interesting story, thanks for the info. ~ZW

  105. Arunaway says:

    Changing your profile picture isn’t useless… even little things can make a big difference. Ever hear of the butterfly effect? Anyway, bringing up something positive from peoples childhood isn’t such a bad thing, and it wasn’t that hard to participate. It was nice to see some good old memories from my childhood.

  106. pammarino says:

    Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  107. pammarino says:

    I actually had a meeting this morning with a guy wearing a yellow bracelet and a blue bracelet!

  108. pammarino says:

    Thanks, nigeil.

  109. pammarino says:

    Thank you very much!

  110. peaches says:

    I vote “Lame.” I see NO WAY that such a “campaign” could raise awareness of anything at all.

  111. Considering that I have around 200 facebook “friends,” most of whom changed to cartoon avatars, and I didn’t read that it was to raise awareness about child abuse, I’d say it was rather unsuccessful.

  112. lynnette-net says:

    I just wrote a similar topic on my blog on this child abuse thing on facebook!

  113. pammarino says:

    Nice post! And I loved your photos on the next post.

  114. goldiedebloomers says:

    Wow! You’re good!!! That made me want to change my pic to fish! FB is RIDIC, as you call it. How ever, it raised plenty of awareness….the point ; )

  115. Sam says:

    I am not sure I like the idea of most awareness campaigns in general, and I’m not sure your efforts in MADD could compare to posting a cartoon picture online for a few days. Did I do it? No. I have seen my friends and family change their pictures and chose to leave mine be. Why? Lots of reasons, none of which I can really explain all too well. I just don’t feel like it makes a difference. Young children aren’t suppose to be on facebook. Adults who abuse their children aren’t going to change their behavior because of a picture. And many of the people who participated that I know just generally aren’t into doing things for other people on a regular basis. So it all just left a bad taste in my mouth…or maybe that’s just my coffee…

  116. goldiedebloomers says:

    Great blog and Congrats on being pressed!!! Funny how people care about ‘the band wagon’ or if people are actually doing something for the cause instead of seeing how much awareness this actually generated. This was a fun look into friends childhood memories. I tend to walk on the childlike side in my thoughts and behavior due to my own abuse in my childhood. I have often posted my fav cartoons long before this happened. I only found out Sat why everyone was doing it because of a post from my irritated sister who bravely announced her painful memories of abuse in her childhood. I reached out to her and joined a huge thread of thoughts. I joined several other conversations and concluded that this did, indeed, cause awareness. The point. It has nothing to do with how much cash one donates in any way. That is only one form of contribution and many people just can’t afford to do so. Volunteering is priceless! By posting an image or wearing a ribbon, we have no idea what an individual has done, unless they share it. It doesn’t matter, either way, as long as something was done! Is there any truth to the power of thought if enough people are thinking of the same thing all at once? Is that the beginning of mass awareness? I personally believe it does. Lastly, I mentioned in several threads on the subject that I did not agree with children having profiles of any kind (age is another debate) on any social network . PERIOD. And, in my opinion, I do not find it appropriate to post pictures of children on the internet. That boils down to a parents responsibility to supervise and educate their children on the dangers of doing so and awareness of abuse already happening. Is it really anyones business how far an individuals efforts to the cause go beyond a cartoon? The initial idea seemed good. The way it was organized was careless even though it was with good intentions. It still worked, after the fact. If all it did was let soeone know that people are thinking or gave someone the courage to report abuse happening to someone they know…we have been made aware in one way or another. It is worth the hubbub!!!

  117. goldiedebloomers says:

    Great blog and Congrats on being pressed!!! Funny how people care about ‘the band wagon’ or if people are actually doing something for the cause instead of seeing how much awareness this actually generated. This was a fun look into friends childhood memories. I tend to walk on the childlike side in my thoughts and behavior due to my own abuse in my childhood. I have often posted my fav cartoons long before this happened. I only found out Sat why everyone was doing it because of a post from my irritated sister who bravely announced her painful memories of abuse in her childhood. I reached out to her and joined a huge thread of thoughts. I joined several other conversations and concluded that this did, indeed, cause awareness. The point. It has nothing to do with how much cash one donates in any way. That is only one form of contribution and many people just can’t afford to do so. Volunteering is priceless! By posting an image or wearing a ribbon, we have no idea what an individual has done, unless they share it. It doesn’t matter, either way, as long as something was done! Is there any truth to the power of thought if enough people are thinking of the same thing all at once? Is that the beginning of mass awareness? I personally believe it does. Lastly, I mentioned in several threads on the subject that I did not agree with children having profiles of any kind (age is another debate) on any social network . PERIOD. And, in my opinion, I do not find it appropriate to post pictures of children on the internet. That boils down to a parents responsibility to supervise and educate their children on the dangers of doing so and awareness of abuse already happening. Is it really anyones business how far an individuals efforts to the cause go beyond a cartoon? The initial idea seemed good. The way it was organized was careless even though it was with good intentions. It still worked, after the fact. If all it did was let someone know that people are thinking or gave someone the courage to report abuse happening to someone they know…we have been made aware in one way or another. It is worth the hubbub!!!

  118. Aztecwarrior says:

    Great post, I agree on some of what you said and I think the cartoons had no effect on child abuse, some just used it as a way to post cute pictures.

  119. melonchomp says:

    I actually heard another response going around–

    FRAUD ALERT: Apparently the group asking everyone to change their profile picture to their favorite cartoon is actually a group of pedophiles. They’re doing it because kids will accept their friend request if they see a cartoon. Nothing to do with supporting child violence. It was on that TV show that warns you about i…nternet frauds. It’s on Tonight’s News. Pass this on to everyone who has a cartoon profile picture

    Which is pretty interesting. What is this, really?

  120. anonymous says:

    I found the cartoon campaign a little painful. I saw people who found it so easy to make a cartoon pledge but could never recognize that I was suffering from abuse as a child and young adult, or who themselves just generally strike me as living in denial of what oes on around them. At least one person participated in the “campaign” but had privately criticized a young family member who in the past had posted on FB about their abuse at the hands of another family member. Hard for me to swallow the hypocrisy.

    I had wondered how many other adults who were abused as children found this “campaign” a little triggering of their neglect. There are enough triggers out there in the world, I didn’t need this one.

  121. Stan says:

    I think the Facebook “campaign” is lame…really, changing my profile pic to a cartoon will stop child abuse?

  122. pammarino says:

    Snopes.com says both the campaign and the pedophile angle are not real.

  123. pammarino says:

    I’m sorry this “campaign” was painful for you. Thank you for sharing with us.

  124. Matt says:

    I would have to say that it was a useless exercise. You touched on it in your post: these exercises are only effective if a legitimate organization is behind it. Sooooo…. who was behind this one? My thoughts are that Facebook is trodding heavily towards the realm of groupthink. Once one person does something ‘that seems like the right thing to do’ then everyone else follows suit.

  125. evilcyber says:

    I’m sorry, but this kind of feeling fluffy about having done “something good” is quite cheap. To really change things takes a bit more action. The MADD campaign you talked about is an example for that.


  126. Mrs. O says:

    I guess when Snopes says its a hoax, they mean it isn’t supported by the organization listed? Nothing official?
    Interesting. It does prove that people are willing to do things without really looking into it. That said, they didn’t really need to list an organization or charity because grassroots are fine too.

  127. The value of my comment will totally depend on how you view the power of prayer. Do all of these awareness campaigns make a difference? Maybe. When I see the cartoon characters of my friends, or the yellow ribbons for our military, or the pink ribbons for breast cancer, etc, it reminds me to pray. And a reminder to prayer is never a bad thing. I don’t have much money to give, I cannnot volunteer much because of work, but I have unlimited prayers to offer to an umlimited God. So, I offer prayers and encouragement and support. Does it help? Not measurable. But it can’t hurt.

  128. inidna says:

    This is a great post! I agree, although this was an interesting idea it wasn’t very well thought out. When I first started seeing friends change their pictures I didn’t have a clue as to why and it was only by chance that I stumbled upon a friend’s status explaining it. Despite that though I’m pretty sure it did raise some awareness. Just like the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign on Facebook, a lot of people, esp. guys, found out why all the girls suddenly changed their status’ to ‘I like it on the floor or on the couch or in the closet’ etc. through searches. No, we weren’t going sex crazy, we were just promoting a campaign.

    So yes, I think this campaign did raise awareness. I’m pretty sure issues of child abuse rarely, if ever, cross the minds of the people that I know but this campaign changed that (even if it was for a short time). As to whether it made any difference… Who knows. Probably not. It’s hard to tell from a couple days of changed pictures and if they wanted to make it more effective they definitely should have made it more organized. But doing a little is better than nothing, is it not?

  129. I agree with you. I don’t think that it really matters if it is real or not. It is good to see something finally being done and who knows? Maybe it will cause a big change tomorrow. Just like how the awareness of cancer through ribbons has helped millions sign up for marathons for cancer.

  130. Teri,

    I agree with you on all points, everyone was and is talking about it, they will probably be talking about it all week. Both the points about child abuse as well as pedophiles, which will also bring more awareness to BOTH. I also agree with you on the point you made about if just being aware of it will help anyone, really?

    I am not trying to knock the awareness of child abuse, but being aware of child abuse is not really going to stop an abuser, being aware of that pedophiles exist doesn’t make them go away.

  131. itsprestonm says:

    In my honest opinion, it’s slacktivism at its finest.

  132. pammarino says:

    “Slacktivism.” Now there’s a great new word!

  133. No way! Really? I wonder what they were about? There’s so many of those bracelet things for so many causes, some of them even look the same, it’s hard to keep track!


  134. You know, your suggestion sounds pretty funny. I know child abuse isn’t anything to laugh about but I do agree with you that it seems a bit empty to just change your profile picture for a cause. Who knows what intentions the individual who started the “change your profile picture” had when they started it. But look at it this way, it’s opened up the dialogue on it and because of it, people are changing the way they think about little campaigns like this. 🙂

  135. pammarino says:

    The yellow one for sure was Livestrong. Not sure what the blue one was.

  136. hyaloid says:

    I’ve been wondering about this. Thanks for posting!

  137. kfab97 says:

    I heard about that…but before hand I had changed my FB profile pic to a cartoon character…well it IS fun to see what your friends post as their pics but it’s sad that it’s a scam more or less.

  138. Bakbakee says:

    I changed my profile picture to a cartoon charcter, absolutely unaware of such a campaign. And when my friends followed suit, I felt that I was a trend setter. (Very self- assured). On the whole, it does advertise the cause, but not the means/ways/measures to combat the same. Nice post.
    Congrats on getting freshly pressed!

  139. pammarino says:

    Thanks, Bakbakee!

  140. mblack47 says:

    Very interesting! Your post caught my eye- I’m planning on going into public relations for a non-profit once I graduate college. You are right, there is a much that can be gained by using social media to advocate for good causes, but the change happens to rapidly. It makes me wonder where mass media will be in just another few short years…

  141. pammarino says:

    So glad to hear you want to work for a non-profit! The work can be very rewarding. Good luck!

  142. Any awareness, like publicity, is a good thing. A friend of mine brought up the Facebook cartoon character deal in a conversation and told me that it was a waste of time. I made up a statistic on the spot about child abuse and suicides and we talked about how bad child abuse could be. After a few minutes I said, “Well, if one of your friends didn’t change their profile picture to Gumby, we would never have had this conversation.”

    And, for the record, my cartoon picture was Homer Simpson chasing Bart while swinging a mace.

  143. You might find this link enlightening: http://i.imgur.com/Drw9c.png
    I am in the camp that says this Facebook-picture-changing stunt did nothing to raise child abuse awareness; and furthermore it just shows how feeble and easily-manipulated Facebook drones are.

  144. Blue bracelets are usually used for raising child abuse awareness. They could be used for other things too…you never know with all of these bracelets, ribbons, and colors these days!

  145. pammarino says:

    Thanks, Nicole. I got a good laugh from that link. But “drones”? Ouch! I don’t think of myself that way. 😉

  146. In Europe we had this the last week of November and the purpose of it I believe was to have “no human faces all over facebook, only the memories of childhood for a short while!” It was not about child abuse awareness. So I was surprised when a few days later, my FB friends on the other side of the world added that it’s a campaign to stop violence against children (also because I don’t see how the two can possibly relate!)

  147. cookeezrus says:

    I do not think awareness campaigns are that effective, perhaps a little. People in general are very aware of what is going on around them, they just don’t care (not everyone). The thing about MADD is that while I’m sure it had something to do with the decrease in drunk driving fatalities, in 1984 the legal age for drinking was changed from 18 to 21 and that had a lot to do with the decrease (boredom+young adults=chaos). Maybe the two are related, probably or maybe not, who knows? How is my being aware that child abuse is happening going to stop a child from being abused? I just don’t see how it helps…

  148. Chantelle says:

    It’s called slacktivism – feel like you’re doing something, when you’re really not.

  149. J.B. says:

    “whether this was a scam, an urban myth, or just a lame exercise”

    All of the above. 😛

    I have the same topic: http://hindiakoto.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/in-just-a-snap-we-are-all-cartoons/

  150. MeltingCloud says:

    Campaigns are never lame, although it’s always a question whether they are helpful or not quite upto standards. I saw no harm in changing my facebook profile picture (to the Japanese cartoon character Detective Conan)for a ‘good cause’. Did it work in terms of the original aim – child abuse awareness? I don’t honestly know…but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to do anything that I consider to be risky (i.e. giving someone money on the streets who has a tin can with a printout label of needy people stuck on with scotch tape) just in case its a sham. Because of this, I often never show my support for causes (i.e. ribbons) even though I am cheering for the campaigns and the messages they deliver. So if nothing else, this Facebook extravaganza gave some people like me, who don’t get to show their support as much as they’d like, a chance to say we’re here too….with no strings or obligations attached.

  151. Blog about ‘sheep effect’ and what happened on facebook ready:

  152. YEP! That’s what I got, and it was from 14 to 21 november, and I have recieved this by an inbox from a friend and I liked the idea.

  153. I think the rumour that the page was created by a paedophile ring is absolutely ridiculous and makes no sense.

    The ‘warning’ people post on their status is not only ridiculous, but very poorly phrased and written, and people copy and paste it with huge gaps, typos, and sometimes the original posters name at the beginning.
    Instead of saying “It’s not about raising awareness for child abuse” it says “Nothing to do with supporting child violence”… I should bloody well hope not! =/

    If paedophile’s thought having a cartoon picture would make kids add them as friends, wouldn’t they just do that anyway, instead of making a page telling EVERYONE to change their pictures under the pretense of protecting children from abuse? that’s just confusing.
    Paedophile’s want to do the OPPOSITE of raising awareness, I’d think.

    And why does the ‘warning’ tell you to change your profile picture back?
    Because your accidentally going to lure children or become a paedophile because your profile pictures are the same as theirs?
    If you want to have a Pokemon, or Tweety Bird as your profile pic, just do it.

    Oh, and also, ‘children’ aren’t really supposed to be on Facebook in the first place.
    I know there are a lot of kids under 13 on there, but they aren’t supposed to be, and I’d hope most teenagers would know to block creepy peoples or not add people they don’t know.
    Although, looking around at my friends list of kids from school, a lot of them had hundreds of friends, and I’m sure they don’t know all of them -.- so lets put most of our hope in them blocking creepy peoples.

  154. I will say yes… because not only did I change my profile pic I also share vintage 80’s footage. One of my posting going down memory lane were old “One To Grow On” PSA that NBC use to employ in between the show line ups with the stars of there most popular shows. One in particular featured Michael J. Fox during his “Alex P. Keaton years on Family Ties” talking about molestation.

    The activity also made me realize how lax this country has gotten in educating our children in general. PSA’s, Family programing, educational shows like Mr. Roger’s…, Mr. Wizard’s World, Pinwheel, Today’s Special have all taken a back seat to reality shows and subpar sitcoms. Our children suffer because they consume the most T.V. I know I watched quite a bit of television as a kid in the 80’s but, at least there was a lesson in morals right after the mild violence on GI Joe, He-Man, and She-Ra. Kids today… Whew! Have few alternatives.

  155. S.K. says:

    On my news feed the whole thing appeared as a fun campaign, lots of my friends joined for fun and so did I. Then a few friends from another country changed their pic and added the child abuse cause message. Personally, I found that pretty ridiculous. First of all because I do not believe for a second that anything can be done that way about child abuse, and secondly because almost every day people on facebook come up with that “I’m such a good person”-bs by sopposedly raising awareness and being for this and against that. Just that in real life they don’t care about any of it, so what’s the point?

  156. I’m very surprised (and my apologies if someone has already pointed this out) that Facebook didn’t try and put a stop to this campaign as it violates their terms of service. When you’re changing your profile picture, this message appears:

    “By uploading a file you certify that you have the right to distribute this picture and that it does not violate the Terms of Service.”

    I’m going to guess a few million people or however many did this did not get permission to distribute other people’s intellectual property. I’m assuming once the whole “it’s to prevent child abuse” thing started, Facebook couldn’t look like jerks by going around deleting people’s profile pictures, but rules are rules.

  157. gtrleyshon says:

    Well, I had no idea that there was a group which related to the cartoon request message, I just kept seeing it re-posted by friends on Facebook. I hope it isn’t run by paedophiles of course, and am curious how this information really came to light. I doubt it is, as surely if it is from a legitimate source, action would have been taken to remove the group.

    Anyhow, whether it is or not, the reposting of the message has undoubtedly raised awareness of the NSPCC (the UKs main children’s charity), and some FB users set up a justgiving webpage relating to this campaing and have raised some money for the charity. Hopelly the raised awareness will also encourage other folks who may not normally have donated to do so. So overall, I guess it’s a good idea.

  158. Jade says:

    Yeah, I was wondering what that was. I changed my picture to a Teen Titans character.

  159. This is a well-thought piece and ironically, without the ‘cartoon’ campaign, we wouldn’t be thinking so deeply about awareness-raising and the potential of social media to encourage change. That said, I didn’t change my own picture – something stopped me.

  160. lolo_bunny says:

    i have to agree that this is not helpful against child abuse but will make it easier for pedophil to get added to kids page.it is not safe at all and parents should watch out for their kids

  161. leadinglight says:

    I don’t believe this particular campaign will contribute much to eradicating child abuse. In Australia, at the moment there is also a Disney exhibition on and at first, I thought it was related to that until I saw my Sri Lankan friends posting it too and saw on a status that it was done with the intention of creating awareness about child abuse. But I don’t feel that I contributed much to it by changing my profile pic to Esmeralda.

    When I want to do my best for a cause I care about, I do voluntary work. For example, I worked at the Inspire Foundation as a web editor. I think that website despite the online medium is effective because it is about drugs and how to take them safely if inclined to do so. Since the audience it is aimed at are young people, who are most likely to be antagonistic to authority figures, the instructional information could assist them to prevent an unnecessary death.

    But then publicity is always viewed as a positive, even negative publicity. Maybe that is what this is about.

  162. nadia; says:

    While I think awareness campaigns have relevance within our communities and bring our attention to detail, this is one I was vehemently against a couple of days ago.

    The way my facebook friends regarded this was quite awful, considering the inherent ideal of reducing child abuse. Instead, I saw that this “awareness” scheme was using the problem of child abuse in vain, allowing all its followers to have fun rather than to engage directly with the problem that exists. Rather than dwelling on possibilities on how to prevent child abuse, my contacts were more interested in reminiscing about their past – and I found this contemptible. What I considered worse was the image it gives off. If one changes their picture, then they’re also self-promoting (regardless of whether that was their initial intention). They become psuedo-Good Samaritans, claiming to be down to earth and very much concerned with the world’s problems when in fact the likelihood of these people (some, definitely not all) actually helping their communities to prevent child abuse is most likely exponentially low, considering how many people joined the bandwagon.

    All in all, I thought it was a very big show and I do not at all admire the awareness scheme. Campaigns such as the Breast Cancer Awareness I felt was much more understandable – by purchasing a ribbon, a donation has been contributed which is always one step closer to helping find a cure. But changing a picture on Facebook, a social networking site?

    I found it quite shameful and sad that these children were getting pictures instead of intervention.

  163. Ágó says:

    Yep, Hungary did this 12th to 17th of November. It was simply funny.

  164. batikmania says:

    Well… yeah… I can’t see any relation between changing our profile pics with the campaign to stop violence against children, but I like the idea anyway. It reminds us about our sweet memory of our childhood. And yes, it is fun to do it. I put a painter smurf as my profile pic, I want it to be smurf* 😉 Smurf*, isn’t it? 😉

  165. There is a possibility that those who changed their profile picture to a cartoon character thought of victims of child abuse when they did so. However, I have seen insensitivity on the subject of child abuse from people on facebook during Mother’s Day, posting implications that all mothers are amazing and great and that if you do not re-post a blessing for your mother then you don’t love God, or your butthole will close up and you’ll have bad luck for 2 years or something. All of those mass-re-post, mass picture-changes annoy me.

  166. Maria says:

    I definitely think the exercise was useless. First of all, as I live in the UK, but am originally from Sweden, have a Czech mum and Croatian dad, I saw different varieties of the “explanation” for changing your profile pic from different contries. The funny thing is that it started off a couple of weeks ago, not having anything to do with child abuse, but more to do with nostalgia, etc. It was even advertised as a game! Then all of a sudden someone got the terrific idea of using it as an awareness campaign for child abuse, some UK users even said it was officially started by the NSPCC, which is an organisation that works to stop cruelty towards children. Swedish users said it was started by BRIS (which is a similar organisation to the NSPCC, but Swedish), etc. Then the scare came, saying that it was started by peadophiles, so did this make us aware of child abuse? No, people just changed their profile pictures, for different reasons, thinking it was for good cause, started by an legitimate organisation. Then we got another message saying the complete opposite. If this had been properly organised by the NSPCC or BRIS or some other legitimate organisation, it would have been powerful! But in this unorganised way it was just useless.

  167. J. says:

    I think you make good points…and I thank you too for straightening me out that MADD apparently had the red ribbon before HIV-awareness; all these years I’ve been quietly resentful that the whole Red Ribbon Week thing coopted the ribbon we used to honor those who died of AIDS.

  168. Rose-Anne says:

    I think those of you who posted here about how putting a cartoon character on your facebook page could possibly stop child abuse are perhaps missing the point. No one said it would stop it. The idea was to raise awareness. It caused me and a lot of my friends to visit some excellent websites and circulate additional information on what everyone can do within their own communities – with or without financial donations. The safety of our children is everyone’s business. There are people who turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to a child who is suffering (like teachers and others who come into contact with them daily). I for one supported the campaign and went with many others who took it to the next level(s). Were it not for the awareness campaign it might not have occurred to me to do.

  169. Bernard Marx says:

    Historical note: While MADD was the first group to my knowledge to use red ribbons, there was at least one prior ribbon campaign: Yellow ribbons for the hostages in Iran in 1979-1981. To my understanding and recollection, this was inspired by the Tony Orlando and Dawn hit “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree” (1971), about a released convict who wanted his wife to indicate whether he was still welcome in her life:

    “Tie a yellow ribbon ’round the old oak tree
    It’s been three long years, do you still want me?
    If I don’t see a ribbon round the old oak tree
    I’ll stay on the bus, forget about us, put the blame on me”

    The older song “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (about a woman during WWI wearing a yellow ribbon to symbolize her husband, away in the war) may also have had an influence.

  170. Maria Elena says:

    There are many ways to help stop abuse of whatever kind. Increasing awareness that it exists is simply one them. The move to get people to change their profile pics was very clear on that: increasing awareness that child abuse exists. What is so wrong — or lame — with that?

    If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, there ARE other ways. In the face of abuse, do we pick and choose which method will be most useful? Wouldn’t you do everything and anything to stop the abuse of your child? How about ANY child? Would it even matter whose child it is?

  171. Bernard Marx says:

    I took the connection to be that children who are abused are robbed of the innocent enjoyment of those cartoon characters; posting cartoon characters was meant as a way to reminisce on the warm fuzzies that childhood is supposed to involve. I believe the “reclaiming” zeitgeist is more of a force in the US than in Europe, which might be why it makes less sense to people in other countries.

  172. Jared Scott says:

    I think this particular campaign did nothing at all to help child abuse. It might have been sorta fun for a moment, but that’s it.

  173. Personally, I didn’t change my picture. I really don’t see how changing your picture to a cartoon character helps child abuse. Like, at all. I can’t imagine a single abuser who signed onto Facebook, saw the cartoons and made the decision to quit abusing his child. I wish that were the case, but I doubt it. Perhaps the trend was more of a reminder? To help people think about what’s going on and to try and take action? I’m not sure.

  174. Tiny Temper says:

    Personally I don’t think you can measure the success of a campaign like this. If it gave one child the courage to speak up, then it was worth doing. If it stimulated one discussion somewhere that helps to prevent a case of abuse, then it was worth it.
    Awareness has been raised; we’re all talking about the FB cartoon campaign, it’s been reported on various news and social media sites. Where’s the harm?

    Great post! Thanks for the discussion 🙂

  175. sd5289 says:

    I work in a field that’s indirectly tied to child abuse (I work with victims of crime in the CRJ system, and sometimes those crimes include domestic violence and/or child abuse). Many of my friends who changed their profile pictures on FB this weekend know what I do for a living. Despite having a wealth of professional and legitimate information related to how their “support” could go towards something substantive at their fingertips (e.g. me), I was not contacted *once* throughout the weekend by anyone who changed their profile picture about what they could to actually cause real change.

    I purposely did not change my profile picture, and waited to see if anyone I knew would make the connection between the “awareness campaign” they were participating in and the actual work that is being done to try and stop violence against children. No one did.

    Unfortunately, I was not surprised. Looking at cartoons is FAR easier than actually examining the cruel realities that are child abuse and/or working in a field where you are exposed to both its victims and its perpetrators. 6 years later working in the CRJ field, and crimes involving child victims are still the cases that I dread over all others. Granted, since I work directly in the CRJ system and not in any sort of advocacy or awareness, I may not know if this is true or not, but prior to this weekend, I had NO idea that there was such a thing as a change your FB profile picture to a cartoon to stop child abuse campaign…

  176. Serenity says:

    I am a foster parent and see more child abuse than I care to. Most people have no idea how common it is and how it reaches across all social, economic, racial barriers. But does changing your pic to a cartoon educate people about this? No.

    Instead of changing our profile pics to cartoons, we decided to post some of the warning signs of child abuse. If someone were reading it, they may recognize those signs in their neighbor or their childs friend or perhaps in their own child. Seems it would do more than a cartoon pic would.

    Here is a link to some of the warning signs of child abuse.

  177. fracas says:

    I haven’t read all comments (congrats on getting ‘pressed’) so someone else might have said this already.

    The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) has benefited from the cartoon campaign in terms of awareness and donations. They weren’t behind it, but people decided to support them because of the tweak felt from the cartoon campaign. They have thanked people for the support so it is a real thing.

    I agree that the campaign was poorly conceived and were it planned properly by an organization, might have actually resulted in larger scale awareness… but it certainly wasn’t a waste as some of the comments suggest. If even it prompted a few individuals to get more involved, it wasn’t a waste. Who knows what those people might then do? The fact is… that it did create awareness and donations for someone and all most folks did was change their picture.

    I’m not sure why, if there’s no harm in something, and someone might benefit… why some have to be negative.

  178. pammarino says:

    MADD was the driving force behind getting the drinking age lowered. But holiday deaths continue to be higher than at other parts of year (Memorial Day may be worse), hence a campaign to remind people not to get behind the wheel after drinking.

  179. Sonika says:

    Very true…. Though this kind of act(Cartoon picture) doesn’t really help to stop any abuse or anything but doing so really effect the front person mind that if I do this, this might help somebody and it doesn’t take anything from me..
    Nice one…

  180. I had 2 cartoons. I chose the pink and black power ranger(I wanted to be the pink one until I was about 10).
    Look everyone, we’ll never know whether the thing was made by a bunch of creeps. The NSPCC didn;t come up with the idea and of course the Facebook spokesperson is going to basically say a lot of nothing. Nobody got hurt and pretty much everyone has taken down their cartoon picture(I did as soon as I heard the rumor) so, no disrespect to anyone, but why does it really matter anymore?

  181. Baldwin Ng says:

    Hi there! Interesting post. I recently posted about Child Soldiers, it was a random post but to give some support to the cause, I linked a couple of facebook pages that get people to like or join them.
    I agree with you that raising awareness does help. Awareness must be followed up with action. There’s a group that travels to war torn countries to save these kids by convincing them to drop their guns. They raise money by selling dog tags to those who support the cause.

    As for this cartoon profile pic campaign, it means nothing if there is no action I guess.

    My post about child soldiers: http://bit.ly/fYuktc Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed yours. Have a great day.

  182. richannkur says:

    Keep up the good work… thanks for sharing.

  183. hotcrossbungay says:

    I am never showing my face on facebook again!

  184. With due respect to the others who’ve posted on this thread, yours is the most important post of them all.

    Every person who changed their FB picture should look long and hard in a mirror and answer this question: If you have no children, have no contact with children, or are convinced that such things could never happen to your children, what was the actual purpose of “participating” in this “awareness” promotion? What result did you expect?

    And, most importantly, what else did you do or plan to do about this issue?

    SD, my unsolicited two cents, change gladly accepted: Please take good care of yourself, and avoid burnout as well as you can. Writing as a parent, we need you and more like you. Be well.

  185. I got told it was a scam
    Apprently it was to do with a pedophile group, who used the cartoons as display photos so that children would add them.
    So I changed my photo back.

  186. willsposey22 says:

    This is a serious topic nowadays, yet as I sift through profile pictures of friends, I see a numerous amount of cartoon pictures. It is sad to see that rapist or petaphiles would use cartoons to attract children to facebook, but how do we know that the cartoon trend was cast by a bunch of creeps. It is important as social network users to understand when and what should be put on such websites.

  187. pammarino says:

    I do not believe it is a scam by pedophiles, but rather a sort of “wave” that got started somehow. Snopes.com has labeled both the campaign, and the notion that it was pedophiles as false.

  188. Maria Elena says:
  189. Pammarino, I guess I would be a drone too. Although, I didn’t participate in the photo changing shindig. Maybe drone was too much, lol. I just thought it was funny how the photo changing spread like wildfire 🙂

  190. I am going to come at this from a different direction, and hope that you understand a little better. First, drones is a bit harsh, don’t you think?

    Second, I am a survivor of child abuse; in an out of foster homes my teen years. Most of my “friends” on facebook are those from Jr. and Sr. high school who reached out to reconnect. During the weekend of changing your photo, I was amazed how many of them participated in it. Had I known in school that there was more support than I had been aware of, I wouldn’t have been so reclusive, withdrawn and depressed.

    It may not have actually “Changed” the world, but neither has Obama but every drone followed him blindly too.

  191. arif says:

    I like your writing, always successful

  192. pammarino says:

    Thank you for your kind comment!

  193. Zach says:

    My company annually donates to MADD, great organization.


  1. […] Facebook Child Abuse Awareness Campaign: Lame? Or Helpful? (via Good Neighbor Stories) Posted: December 7, 2010 by jhejhezt in myVariouzLife 0 Over the last few days a lot of people have been changing their profile photos to the beloved cartoon characters of their childhoods. I noticed on Thursday or Friday morning that a few of my Facebook friends had changed their photos to characters, and thought there must be something up. Finally one of my friends included an explanation with his change to a cartoon avatar: “(re: why there are cartoon images on profile pics): This was TOO fun to mi … Read More […]

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profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood! The goal is to not see
a human face on Facebook till 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!” There’s one guy who tries to explain why awareness is effective. He explains this trend is worth something. Read his article.   […]

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