Cartoons can’t fight child abuse

Kevin Wilson

Monday was a big study day for my friend, so I told her not to expect any texts for me throughout the day. That way, she could get out of the library sooner.

She upped the offer, and I caved.

“This is my Facebook password,” she said. “Change it, and don’t tell me the new one until I leave the library.”

I won’t spend much time on how I picked her password (it had something to do with her cats) or how much power I wielded (I changed her profile picture to one I liked better, but otherwise wasn’t tempted).

What amazes me is how technology makes a lot of small tasks easier, while at the same time diverting us from the bigger tasks (like my friend) or giving us false confidence that we are tackling big tasks (the rest of this diatribe).

Consider the cartoon changes you might have noticed on your Facebook. The instructions were, “Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on Facebook until Monday, Dec. 6. Join the fight against child abuse, copy and paste to your status and invite your friends to do the same.”

This movement started out as nothing. People were changing their profile pictures to cartoons for fun (it was not, as the rumor goes, devised by pedophiles to make it easier to talk to children).

What resulted was an online game of “Telephone,” and for reasons I can’t proffer somebody decided to add “fight child abuse” to the movement.

Step A: Put cartoons on your Facebook profile. Step C. Child abuse goes down. Nobody could tell me Step B. I had 65 friends with cartoon pictures on Sunday. Nobody said they donated to a charity, and nobody talked about volunteer work for a children’s advocacy group.

The Oasis Children’s Advocacy Center isn’t aware of Step B either. I called Hank Baskett Jr., who has run the non-profit for many years. He reported no spike in donations or volunteerism, despite Strawberry Shortcake’s best efforts.

No doubt, awareness helps (even the awareness from people like me complaining about the cartoons). But it comes down to resources.

Scooby Doo can’t conduct interviews with children who have been abused. Captain Caveman doesn’t go around to schools, educating children on how to recognize abuse.

“We just got back from three interviews in Tucumcari,” Baskett said. “It takes finances to run this operation and be able to get out there to our children.”

Baskett said people could call the center and he’d come down to pick up a jar of pennies if that’s what they’d offer.

I’m not trying to tell you to give to Oasis. There are other charities out there that could use your help too. I’m just asking you to think next time somebody tells you to join a cause and remember that it’s easier to do nothing out loud than it is to do something in silence.