Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Nov. 4, 2013

Teens Engage Teens about the Bullying Issue

President and Executive Director, Net Literacy

The online world is often a reflection of the real world. That means there is a real opportunity for empowered students to do good and make a difference in both. No one can talk more persuasively about bullying than engaged and passionate teens and our student board decided that we would focus on bullying during our 2013 safety learning and outreach programs.

We researched bullying and learned that while the vast majority of teens will never be bullied, most teens are bystanders to bullying events. Because of the power that bystanders have to stop bullying, we decided that our theme would be “Bullying is a group activity, so let’s come together and stop bullying.”

This year’s anti-bullying program has three components:

Student conducted safety training at afterschool programs and in the schools. High school and middle school Net Literacy volunteers conducted anti-bullying and safety training with elementary and middle school students in schools and at afterschool programs.

Forty additional safety videos were produced this summer increasing our video library to over 100 e-Rate and CIPA relevant safety videos. This summer, three dozen student volunteers came together for six weeks to produce more than forty safety videos, many of which focused on bullying in an age appropriate manner for elementary, middle, and high school students. School districts around the state use our safety videos as teaching resources and over 6,000 unique visitors view our safety videos each month. The video below is an example of our work and uses a comic book setting to show elementary school student audiences how engaged student bystanders and a trusted teacher (who takes the form of a superhero) can stop bullying. The video is designed to be part of a safety conversation that sparks a student discussion about what they saw in the video and what it means to them. Please click below to watch the two minute student-produced video:

Our teen anti-bullying challenge enabled students to become “television stars” and youth spokespersons. Partnering with our local cable television operator Bright House Networks and several school districts, we challenged students to develop messages that addressed bullying through the question, “If you had 25 seconds, what would you say to others about bullying or cyberbullying?” Teachers discussed this bullying question in class and submitted students’ entries. Parents with younger sons and daughters discussed the bullying question with their children at home and emailed their sons’ and daughters’ entries to us. We received hundreds of heartfelt responses from students who were bystanders, had bullied others, and had been bullied. It was difficult to make the decision but finally, eight lucky winners were selected to become television stars and youth spokespersons presenting their messages in professionally produced public service announcements. In addition, a six minute television magazine story about the anti-bullying challenge was produced and is being carried on broadcast television, by Bright House Networks, and by other video providers throughout central Indiana. Please click below to watch one of our 30 second PSAs:

Even though more than 75% of teens who use social media say that people of their age are mostly kind to one another on social networking sites according to a Pew Research study, students that speak out on behalf of civility and kindness make the Internet an even better place for all of us. Net Literacy is a story about 3500 student volunteers that have worked hard to make a difference in our communities and while online.