In the past few years, cyberbullying has taken a front-and-center role as one of the most predominant and serious issues affecting kids on the Internet today. There have been too many tragic tales of bullying and for those who suffer on a daily basis, the long-lasting effects are permanent.
According to a study that MTV and the Associated Press conducted last fall, 76 percent of 14-24 year olds said that digital abuse is a serious problem for people their age and that 56 percent have personally experienced abuse through social and digital media. More disturbingly, the Cyberbullying Research Center conducted a survey of 2,000 teenagers and found that nearly 20 percent have seriously considered suicide as a result of being cyberbullied.
With a national spotlight on this epidemic, bullying has become one of the most important issues affecting school administrators, parents, even the Obamas. Last year, President Obama and the First Lady, held a Conference on Cyberbullying urging parents, students and teachers to engage in an open and ongoing discussion on how to create change.
Disney and Common Sense Media are also joining the fight and recently announced a partnership to promote special Public Service Announcements (PSAs) geared towards viewers aged 6-14 and their parents. The first PSA features the casts of popular shows, “Austin and Ally,” “Shake It Up,” “A.N.T. Farm” and “JESSIE” urging viewers to stand up and take action against any kind of cyberbullying they witness. What makes these PSAs impactful is how they take on a personal slant with Disney Channel TV stars urging kids to take action, even one from Billy Unger, star of the Disney XD series “Lab Rats,” talking about his own experiences of getting bullied.
The PSAs started airing last Thursday multiple times a day on the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney.com. There’s a good chance that your young kids have seen these already while watching some of their favorite shows. Use them as an opportunity to start the conversation (if you haven’t already) or continue the discussion on what cyberbullying is and what kids can do to take a stand.
To view additional PSAs, please visit the Disney “Friends for Change” site dedicated to this campaign. Most importantly, share them with your kids, create an open forum for family discussion and make them realize that they CAN make a difference.
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