DoSomething’s ‘Bully Project’ Launches A Census Of Teens
- April 23rd, 2012
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We chatted with Naomi Hirabayashi and Chloe Lee at DoSomething about their new anti-bullying effort — a bullying census on Facebook tied with the release of the documentary “Bully.” They’re hoping not only to get an accurate picture of what’s really going on in young people’s lives, but also to amplify their voices and bring attention to the daily drama that students face. Coming directly from the students themselves and in their words, parents and administrators won’t be able to ignore the reality of bullying in their own schools and neighborhoods.
Ypulse: Tell us about the Facebook census and what you hope it will accomplish…
DoSomething: The documentary Bully came out on March 30th, so we’re launching our Facebook campaign today to help bring attention to the issue. We’re targeting those aged 25 and under, and specifically highlighting high school kids, asking them to share how bullying is in their school. At the end of the census, their school gets a letter grade that they can share with their school administrators and staff.
We’ve done other anti-bullying programs, including Step Up To Bullying last fall, which brought lots of attention to the issue, though most of the media coverage has been the result of tragedies. But teachers and administrators deny the problem exists in their schools, thinking it only happens elsewhere. We want to make the students the voice of the state of bullying in the country today. If two dozen students from a school take the census, and 93% of those give their school a D or F for how they’re handling the problem, the administration can’t deny the problem. It will mean more accountability for the school system, and we’re here to give them resources to help them address the issue.
YP: As you mentioned, there’s been a lot of coverage and attention for bullying and cyberbullying; is there a perception that it’s being dealt with so it’s not a big deal now?
DS: For some Millennials, the press cycle may make it feel like the topic is oversaturated, but for teens in particular, the sense is that bullying is a manifestation of so many things — disabilities, theater students vs. athletes, etc. And their parents don’t get it. So for teens, they don’t think it’s done. Last year was the culmination of years of people not talking about bullying, ignoring it, and saying “Kids will be kids, it’s just the way it is.” That’s over. Students feel enabled to talk about it and stand up to it now that people are paying attention. We think this campaign will be very empowering; it’s a call to action.
YP: How are you spreading the word?
DS: We’re the lead marketing partner for “Bully” and cross-promoting with it. We’ll have a PSA featuring Victoria Justice that will air on national TV. We’re posting information in theater lobbies. And teens will be spreading the word, too. Those who participate in the census will have the chance of being randomly selected to receive a college scholarship of up to $10,000. The more people who share the census with their Facebook friends, the more the scholarship increases, making this the first “social scholarship” DoSomething.org has ever offered.
YP: What data are you expecting to gather? What sort of questions will you be asking?
DS: We asked our Youth Advisory Council to help us create the questions. We’re asking if they’ve noticed bullying in their school, where it happens, what is being done about it, and how helpful teachers and administrators are when it comes dealing with bullying.
YP: Is bullying still the #1 issue for teens? What else are you seeing that matters deeply to them?
DS: Anecdotally, the causes that teens love run from animals to the environment to social issues. But what they’re dealing with in their own lives, bullying and depression, questioning who you are — if they’re good enough, pretty enough, smart enough — anxiety, and paying for school are all huge pain points. College is on their minds; getting in is tough enough, and then there’s paying for it, which is why we’re excited to be able to offer a scholarship as part of this campaign.
YP: Any final comments to sum up?
DS: It will always be a challenge to change a mentality. The only way to combat that is that is to get a conversation going. Last year, in a Step Up To Bullying submission, a girl made a comment that she realized she was a mean girl. Moving from that realization, teens are now holding peers more accountable and hopefully themselves too. They’re seeing the real, irrevocable consequences of treating someone poorly. Bad things happen, and on the wrong day it can be very traumatic.