March 3rd, 2013
06:32 PM ET

Empowering young people to speak up about bullying

Editor's note: Stuart Snyder is the President and COO of Cartoon Network. Tune in tonight at 8 p.m ET and on March 9 at 8 p.m. ET to watch AC360°'s "The Bully Effect," created in partnership with Cartoon Network.

Just last week, I had the privilege of standing with Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) and the staff and students of Philadelphia’s Harding Middle School to support them in speaking up against bullying. We raised Cartoon Network’s new STOP BULLYING: SPEAK UP flag to support a school that is working tirelessly to create a vibrant, safe, respectful educational community where all students are accepted and valued.

Accepted and valued; something all our nation’s children deserve to feel, but many don’t.

Cartoon Network’s STOP BULLYING: SPEAK UP campaign empowers young people with confidence and competence to speak up safely and effectively when they see bullying happen. Bullying, more than any other issue young people express, is a problem they believe they can solve — if only adults will teach them the skills and support their efforts.

There are proven tactics young people can safely and effectively employ: tell a trusted adult that you witnessed bullying and keep telling them until they follow-up; if you feel safe, simply tell the person doing the bullying to stop—interrupting a bullying situation in progress is sometimes all it takes to make that one incident end; or if you can’t interrupt the bullying, go up to the victim afterwards and make a gesture of kindness or friendship. It can be as simple as asking them if they are all right, or if they want to sit with you at lunch, or — really importantly — that what just happened was not their fault.

Schools, communities and families all share responsibility for helping our youth address this issue. Too many times young people tell us that they told an adult about a bullying incident but nothing really happened to help the situation. Our young people are committed and courageous, but they can’t always do this on their own.

Resources can be found at the federal government’s stopbullying.gov; our StopBullyingSpeakUp.com; the Anti-Defamation League’s noplaceforhate.org; and many others that offer free, downloadable content in print and video for parents, teachers and community leaders.

It is crucial that we send a strong, consistent, visible signal to our audiences that bullying is not OK, will not be ignored, and will not be tolerated in our schools and communities. A visible symbol of that commitment is raising the STOP BULLYING: SPEAK UP flag.

A flag represents something to which we can pledge our support; it represents a cause and a set of beliefs to which we can all adhere. Seeing a flag that says “STOP BULLYING” flying over a building, in a park, or in front of a town hall tells young people that we support them. It signifies that we have their backs, that we will support their efforts to help create kind, respectful, accepting schools and communities.

STOP BULLYING: SPEAK UP flags are being distributed, with support from our partners at LG and the American Federation of Teachers, to 2,000 elementary and middle schools across the country. The flag is posted with our partners at Facebook’s STOP BULLYING: SPEAK UP page and templates for creating your own flag can be found at www.StopBullyingSpeakUp.com.

When driving a car, we all recognize and stop at STOP signs. Surely, we can extend that in support of our nation’s youth — let’s raise the flag, let’s SPEAK UP.

One of the things that can help fuel this movement is federal legislation that makes safe schools an enforceable priority. Recently Sen. Casey reintroduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. It is a straightforward attempt to provide national protection when it comes to bullying prevention. The bill will help ensure that all students are safe and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

I urge you to support this work and welcome your involvement. Raise your flag and show your commitment to our nation’s children.

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Filed under: Bullying • The Bully Effect
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Mary Jo Newbury

    Please do a special about Mr Rodgers from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Mr. Rogers, at the end of his show would sit quiet and calm and have a conversation with those hundreds of kids. In that moment, he seemed to look all those young people in the eye when he said ‘And I like you just for being you. He was a great example of why bullying is so wrong and set a great example for all of us, adults and kids.’

    March 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  2. Ginger Howard

    Bullying doesn't just happen in schools. It continues even in the workplace. And through my experience especially as an adult, it is looked at that you are weak, or too sensitive when you bring up how people are treating you and wanting them to stop. I have heard people say get a spine and defend yourself, but these people are so afraid and their self esteem is so low that they just try to survive in silence. I think it would be important to cover bullying in the workplace. Thanks for bringing this topic up and talking about it, because it truly needs to be talked about. People need to stand up and make a movement for respect for others. Bystanders need to stand up for respect, as that can help stop some of it from happening. And respect in the workplace starts from the top. If you don't have leaders who require respect of your co-workers, bullying will run rampant. There have to be consequences for the people who treat others disrespectfully.

    March 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  3. shelley

    I missed this show but would like to view it...is it available online? My daughter has been bullied and we had to have her change schools...it has impacted her so much that we are still dealing with it long after she has left the school.

    March 4, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  4. Marion

    Thank you for bringing attention to the bullying issue. My son, now aged 30 was bullied throughout his school years. It got to the point where he would become violently ill every time he walked out the door to go to school. He finally dropped out and home schooled himself. He got through university (computer sciences) on scholarships and made the dean's list each year.
    Here's the sad part. Bullying continues to impact his life. He graduated almost four years ago and still has not been able to land a job in spite of many interviews. He has no self confidence, speaks with a stammer and just does not present himself in a job winning way. I blame it on the bullying he endured.
    I often blame myself for not being able to get the attention or help of the principals, teachers or counselors. My son won't see any counselors now because his repeated experience throughout school was that they are worthless and not helpful. Often they ended up blaming him for 'not fitting in'.
    The impacts of bullying can last a lifetime. I don't know how or if my son can be helped. Will someone give him a break? Will he find a way to gain the confidence and faith in the world? Will he sink into depression and just kill himself?
    So far, he remains hopeful, is kind and helpful to others and just keeps trying. Thank God for that.
    The point is I am so glad that this issue is finally being addressed in the media and hopefully in the schools.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:00 am |
  5. gladysthecoach

    I am a voice for those victims that have been bullied and those that are currently in the situation.
    Bullying is a disease.
    I was bullied when I was younger, but I have recovered.

    March 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
  6. Mrs. Nora Bentley

    I am watching the film on CNN called "The Bullying Effect" and in my view, it is an EXCELLENT documentary. I feel the entire country, young and old should watch it if they haven't already. Enough with hatered, we, in this nation, are better than that ,forward with respect, kindness and positiviy ! Thank You to the film producer, who was apparently a bully victim/survivor himself in his youth, and thank you CNN for showing it ! Awareness is the first step !

    March 3, 2013 at 9:05 pm |