With classes, sports, homework and other activities, weekdays are action packed for kids. Unfortunately, some students deal with an unwelcome addition to their daily routine -- bullying. An estimated 13 million students are bullied annually, according to government statistics.
With online social media so widely available to kids today, bullying doesn’t necessarily stop after school, and often takes place round-the-clock. The repercussions can be missed days of school, depression and even suicide.
Fortunately, kids are getting more help these days as bullying prevention efforts are growing nationwide.
Cartoon Network has been a pioneer in this space and its “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” campaign has been empowering bystanders to put a stop to bullying since it launched in 2010. On average, more than 100,000 people visit the initiative’s website monthly to learn prevention strategies.
“Speaking up to a trusted adult is the safest, most effective way for victims and bystanders to bring an end to a bullying situation,” says Alice Cahn, Cartoon Network vice president of social responsibility. “Bystanders in particular can be powerful agents for change when they report incidents.”
Support for Cartoon Network’s award-winning pro-social effort has come from such diverse organizations as Facebook, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, LG Mobile, and CNN. President Obama even invited Cartoon Network to the first Bullying Prevention Summit at the White House, and later introduced the initiative’s first documentary, “Speak Up.”
This year, Cartoon Network’s Speak Up Week (Sept. 29 - Oct. 3) kicks off National Bullying Prevention Month in October and is a great time to review ways that adults and kids can stand up to bullying:
• Cyberbullying: Don’t contribute to the problem by sharing, saving, forwarding or reposting information. If you’re on the receiving end, resist the urge to get back at the person or fix the issue online -- both can make the problem worse. Get offline and deal with it in real life. Parents can help prevent cyberbullying by monitoring kids’ use of computers, mobile phones and tablets.
• Don’t stand by: Research has found that when bullying occurs and a bystander intervenes by speaking up, more than half of bullying situations stop within just 10 seconds.
• Share your voice: Cartoon Network is recruiting 1MM students, parents, teachers, legislators and anyone concerned about bullying prevention to submit user-generated videos that feature individuals declaring the phrase, “I Speak Up!” You can use a smartphone or go online to upload your own video to the www.StopBullyingSpeakUp.com website.
Participants are also encouraged to use the hashtag, #ISpeakUp to share videos via their own social media platforms to help spread the word and enlist friends to take part in the 1MM challenge. Select videos will appear on-air as part of new campaign spots for Cartoon Network, its digital platforms and Boomerang.
• Listen: Parents should check in with kids periodically to make sure they’re safe and happy at school, on the playground and online. If you’re an adult and a child tells you about a bullying situation, listen. Either let the school know about the issue or talk to the other children’s parents about putting a stop to the behavior.
Whether you’re a victim, a bystander or a concerned adult, don’t sweep bullying under the rug. By speaking out against cruelty, you can help end bullying.