This story was first published on February 10, 2012
A rather disturbing photograph, which has circulated via Facebook since at least 2012, depicts a smiling man riding a motorbike across the outstretched hands of a number of children lying on the ground in a row while other adults and children look on. The message accompanying the photograph urges users to hit “Share” in order to combat child abuse.
The photograph is genuine. It depicts a foolish stunt carried out at a school in India in 2009 that was intended to show how strong the children had become after taking karate lessons. A July 2009 CNN Asia report notes:
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) — A government school in southern India has tested pupils’ karate skills by running over their outstretched arms with a motorcycle.
K. Devarajan, the director of elementary education in Tamil Nadu state, told CNN that the event, held recently, was organized with the consent of parents.
Thankfully, no children were injured in the ill-conceived “strength test”. After the incident, Indian education authorities visited the school and have asked schools not to carry out such activities in the future because they violate existing safety guidelines.
Certainly, those who dreamed up this absurd stunt should have been reprimanded or dismissed. Many would consider the act to be child abuse even if the intention was not overtly malicious and no children were actually harmed.
That said, however, the simple act of sharing this image will do nothing whatsoever to combat child abuse, in India or anywhere else.
Reposting such a message may momentarily make users feel good about themselves, but will do nothing at all to actually help abused children. Joining or donating to organizations that fight against child abuse can help. Participating in activities within your own communities that increase awareness of child abuse and how to combat it may help. Sharing a message that does not even bother to explain the origin or circumstances of the included image will NOT help in the slightest.
An example of the circulating message:
WTF.. this man is doing with these child…
Hit ‘SHARE’ to raise voice against Child Abuse…
Single effort from you matters…
Just One Share,To Let the World Know….