These ‘Abused Emojis’ Can Help Kids Tell Someone They’re Being Hurt

Project from a Swedish children's helpline

Headshot of Tim Nudd

A children's helpline in Sweden just released an upsetting set of emojis showing kids being physically and verbally abused—in the hope that young victims of violence might use them to communicate their situation when words fail.

"A complex reality demands a complex set of symbols," says the nonprofit group, BRIS, which helps at-risk children and teenagers. "The Abused Emojis make it possible for kids and young people to talk about situations where they felt bad or wrongly treated without having to put words on the situation. If you or somebody you know have been hurt, mistreated or feel sad, Abused Emojis makes it easier to talk about."

Among the images are kids with bruises and cuts; a baby being struck; a child thinking about a skull (suicide); images of parents drinking; and a literal shithead (a boy who's presumably having thoughts of being ugly or worthless).

It's pretty fascinating and bleak. Would kids really use something like this?

Full set of images below.


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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.