Facebook launches 'bold' anti-bullying campaign
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, November 14, 2012 11:13AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2012 2:09PM EST
Social media giant Facebook is asking users to take a stand against bullying in the Be Bold: Stop Bullying national campaign.
Launched in Toronto on Wednesday, the online campaign asks youth, parents and educators to take a pledge against bullying, share stories about their own experience with bullies and encourages Facebook users to start their own bullying-prevention groups.
Facebook Canada managing director Jordan Banks said the campaign aims to specifically reach out to those who are witnesses to bullying.
“One of the things we know by working with our partners in bullying is the power really exists in the voices of the people watching bullying happening,” Banks told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.
“When the bystander says something to the bully, like stop bullying, 50 per cent of the time that bully will stop right away because what the bully is looking for is some positive reinforcement.”
An interactive app on the Facebook page allows adults and children to take the pledge against bullying and the users’ friends are then encouraged do the same.
“Clearly there’s power in number,” said Banks.
The app keeps track of the number of pledges in each province and territory and provides resources for parents and children to fight cyberbullying.
Canadian celebrities join campaign
Organizers enlisted the help of Canadian celebrities to encourage Facebook users to take the anti-bullying pledge.
“No one deserves to be bullied and everyone shares in the responsibility to make sure that it doesn’t happen to anyone,” says comedian and TV personality Rick Mercer in a video posted on the Be Bold Facebook page. “We’ve already lost too many good kids and many more are suffering in silence.”
Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger and Family Channel host Lindsay Hamilton are also featured taking the Be Bold pledge.
Musician Valerie Anne Poxleitner, better known as Lights, was among the first Canadian celebrities to endorse the campaign.
“Bullying is not just kids being kids,” she says. “It can have a damaging impact on children, families and communities.”
Toronto Raptor stars Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Jamaal Magloire, along with coach Dwane Casey, also lend themselves to the campaign.
The campaign organizers say they hope to raise awareness about the simple, yet effective actions individuals can take to prevent bullying.
About 100 students attended the launch of the Canadian campaign on Wednesday.
“You hear gossip with girls, making fun of each other and I’ve had friends who have gone through that and I don’t like to see it,” student Deepa Prashad told CTV Toronto.
Launched during Bullying Awareness Week, the campaign is in partnership with organizations including Family Channel, PREVNet, and Kids Help Phone and STOPcyberbullying.org.
The tragic suicide of British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd last month put cyberbullying in the media spotlight. The 15-year-old took her own life following years of being tormented online and bullied at school.
Todd’s death sparked discussion in the House of Commons about the development of a national bullying prevention strategy.
Below is the Be Bold: Stop Bullying pledge:
Bullying makes every day hard. It makes people feel isolated, unimportant and afraid to go to school. I have the power to stop bullying by getting involved in a few specific ways. Here is my pledge:
I will speak up - I will take a stand when I see young people humiliating or hurting each other. I will talk about bullying with my friends and the adults in my life, so everyone knows I think it's wrong.
I will advocate - I will stick up for others who might be in need of my help, and not just my closest friends.
I will be a role model - I will not use my phone or computer to spread rumors or say hateful things, and I won't ignore it when others are cruel and intimidating.
Stopping bullying begins with me. Taking this pledge can change someone's life in a meaningful way. I will forward it to my friends and family to help grow a community committed to ending bullying. I will speak up.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s John Musselman