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The Cartoon Network will be launching a campaign to fight bullying as part of next fall’s lineup. No, they’re not having characters give boxing lessons or demonstrations; they’re appealing to the witnesses of bullying incidents. “Studies indicate that about 85 percent of bullying incidents are witnessed by bystanders, yet only about one-fifth of the time do the witnesses intervene on behalf of the target,” according to Ronald Slaby, who is a member of Cartoon Network’s advisory panel and a Harvard Med School psychologist. This means eyewitnesses are often present and able to intervene in some way. The problem is they’re scared to respond, for fear of being bullied themselves. The cartoons will use teachable moments to give these onlookers hints and strategies to handle the reporting of such occurrences.
The campaign will be directed at middle school aged children, which is where bullying is most prevalent. I’ve seen many shows touch on this subject, but having a campaign zone in on specific issues with interactive elements on a website is a smart move in the right direction. As a parent, bullying is something I fear, but I also worry that the children who report bullying will be targeted. Hopefully, bringing this epidemic into the limelight on popular kids’ networks will provide an open forum to discuss bullying and make reporting incidents more acceptable. Wouldn’t it be nice to give the bullies something to fear for once?