I AM A WITNESS is an innovative bullying victim support program that uses a device that is already in most teens’ hands – their cell phone – and a tool all too familiar to those kids – emoji – to lend a hand to bullying victims, especially cyberbullying victims.
To all the parents of teens and tweens out there, we suggest watching the video below with your kids and encourage them to get involved.
According to a recent survey of teens by Pew Internet Research, 90% of teens who have witnessed cyberbullying online choose to ignore it. Serious props to the 10% who are trying to make a difference, but that is a low number.
We can’t blame teens who choose not to confront the bully; doing so would could bring unwanted attention including the risk of the bully turning on you. Reporting the bully to a parent or someone in authority, especially in schools, brings a whole lot of baggage with it.
Simply using the emoji to show support to the victim seems to us to be a gesture that can do some real good. What is more, it stands to reason that a teen who lends support to even one cyberbullying victim will be less likely to use unkind words or gestures himself. Not all cyberbullying is actually intended to cause injury, but if the subject feels harmed, the damage is done. A heightened awareness by all involved can head off problems in advance.
The campaign is being put together by the Ad Council in partnership with The Bully project and others, and corporate supporters including Apple and Google.
If your teen has an iPhone and has upgraded to iOS 9.1, the emoji is already present on his phone. For Android users, the I Am A Witness keyboard and emoji can be downloaded here.
Let’s create some more Upstanders.
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