A nonprofit organization in Sweden has released an app of abused Emojis in an effort to help children open up about abuse and violence.
Available in the App Store, the Abused Emojis app include emoticons of boys and girls with bruises and Band-Aids on their faces, wrists with cut marks, and child and parent sets with alcoholic beverages.
BRIS, the child’s rights advocacy group behind the app, runs a national helpline and says, “Many of the problems that children face today are stigmatized and often they have no one to talk to but us." They hope the Abused Emojis app helps children talk more freely about what they are facing.
"Emojis are a very natural way for children and teenagers to communicate, and we want to show that there’s nothing wrong with reaching out when you feel down. We think that many times when you experience trouble it can be hard to put words on the situation, and these Emojis can make it easier to reach out for help," Silvia Ernhagen, director of communication at BRIS, tells HLN.
"The Abused Emojis app serves a double purpose as it's both a hands-on tool for kids to tell others about their issues without having to put words on their situation, and also in a broader sense a way of saying that when you face trouble, it's always a good thing to tell someone," Ernhagen said. "Our aim is to make kids speak out."
Emily Roberts, psychotherapist and frequent Dr. Drew panelist, says, "There are pros and cons. The con is being that what is someone to do who receives a text of an Abused Emoji from a friend or family member? This puts the pressure on the other party to help the person who sent it. They are expressing themselves but now what. As a psychotherapist, if a client was sending me these I wouldn't' know what to do because they don't give me information."
Ernhagen tells HLN the app had been downloaded more than 23,000 times and is the No. 3 app on the Swedish app store list.