Monday, September 29, 2014

Cartoon Network's Anti-Bullying Outreach

The Washington Post details anti-bullying campaigns in kids' television:

It used to be that when a television show wanted to get serious, it would take a break from its everyday proceedings for a Very Special Episode, devoted to the consequences of unusual intrusions into what was presumed to be everyday life, including drunken driving, racism, or violence against children. ...

But for Cartoon Network, which is on track to collect a million viewer-made videos in an ongoing bullying prevention campaign, raising awareness has become less about trying to push the children who are its target audience into new ways of thinking and more about meeting them where they are. ...

Rather than commissioning bullying-specific storylines, Alice Cahn [Vice President for Social Responsibilty at Cartoon Network] met with animators to give them the information. “A guy raised his hand in the back and said, you don’t need to share this with us, in junior high, we were the kids getting our heads stepped on in the toilet bowl,” she recalled. Now, the network produces anti-bullying posters featuring characters from Cartoon Network shows and quotes they have already spoken in episodes — Cartoon Network does not have to put new words in their mouths to get a message across. ...

In the sixties, when I was growing up, most kids got bullied at one time or another. In those far-off days, there weren't many counseling programs to deal with it, or cartoons on Saturday morning to raise collective awareness of the problem. You just suffered through the torture, and muddled through.

We look at school bullies as a modern phenomenon, but they've been around forever. And things like school massacres? A totally new occurrence, something that never occurred before in the Land of the Free. (Except not).

At least now, we're dealing with the problems in a slightly more sophisticated, systematic way.


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