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Getting Back at Bullying

You’re a waste of space. You’re fat, stupid and ugly. Everybody hates you.

Have I gotten your attention yet? These probably aren’t things you hear on a daily basis. (I certainly hope not!) But kids today are hearing these terrible things, and whether they are directed at them or a classmate, it’s never easy to hear.

I’m guessing that, whether or not a similar situation has happened to you, you can imagine how it feels to be picked on like that – downright awful.

Over the course of the past year, I had the chance to be on the team here at Communispace that partnered with the Ad Council and DDB to help tackle the issue head-on. Working together, we did research to better understand and uncover parents’ attitudes and mindset toward bullying. Complemented by findings from Ad Council conversations with subject matter experts, our research helped to inspire a meaningful anti-bullying campaign and companion website to guide parents and their children through bullying situations.

Through our proprietary online communities, I got to talk to parents of young children to start to tell the story behind bullying. The work was conducted in three basic stages:

  1. Early discovery work that dug into parents’ thoughts, feelings and behavior related to bullying
  2. Testing four strategic concepts to hone in on key ideas and fuel creative design
  3. Communications checks on two unique messages to further shape and finalize the campaign

Our communities are the perfect environment for this type of work and, because of the tight-knit membership, I was able to get into the intimate details with these parents and understand their emotional responses to the subject. Getting this perspective from parents played a critical role in making sure the developing campaign hit home with the target.

Ultimately I learned that, while parents do view bullying as an issue, it’s not necessarily always top of mind for them when they’re preoccupied with many other important priorities in their children’s lives. Often, parents take a passive approach to addressing bullying with their children and will wait to address the issue until they believe it is directly affecting their child. Compounding this, parents tend to have a limited perspective on the bullying dynamic: They don’t always realize the effects of bullying on all parties involved (beyond the bully and victim) and, therefore, may not understand the role a bystander plays.

What’s the result? A campaign with the goal of broadening parents’ perspectives on bullying and motivating crucial conversations between parents and their children. The campaign aims to help parents understand how they can empower their children to take a stand against bullying, and demonstrates that there are many important ways kids can discourage bullying, all with minimal risk of becoming the next victim.

To learn more about bullying, visit: stopbullying.gov

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