How Garfield Became the Feline Face of Cybersafety

The iconic orange cat, who celebrates his 40th birthday next year, has been assisting the Center for Cyber Safety and Education in recent months—along with the comic strip's creator, Jim Davis. The latest part of the collaboration takes on cyberbullying.

If you’ve read the comics page anytime in the past 40 years or so, you know one thing: Garfield loves lasagna.

But one thing that the incredibly popular cartoon icon doesn’t like is bullying—cyberbullying, to be exact. That’s why the anthropomorphic orange tabby cat is the face of a new campaign, timed to October’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month and National Bullying Prevention Month, to encourage kindness among children.

The campaign, backed by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, is part of an ongoing partnership between the group and Garfield creator Jim Davis.

Previously, Davis assisted in creating two lessons on privacy and online oversharing. The newest lesson, which will be released next month, emphasizes online etiquette and discourages bullying. The Garfield-related educational materials include comic books, stickers, videos, posters, trading cards, lesson plans, and guides for parents.

“With cyberbullying so rampant, children need a champion. We hope that Garfield illuminates the consequences of poor online choices and helps kids realize they don’t have to become part of the bullying culture,” Davis said in a news release.

Pat Craven, the director for the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, said the goal of the education kit is to offer “powerful tools to help tackle bullying and foster a constructive educational environment.”

In a video recorded for the center this year, Davis emphasized that he decided to assist with the cybersafety program in part because of the shifting dynamic around interaction in the 39 years since he started drawing the popular comic strip, which is printed in 2,100 newspapers worldwide.

“Danger isn’t down a dark alley anymore,” he noted. “It lurks in our children’s phones, laptops, and tablets.”

(PAWS, Inc.)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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