Cartoon Network's 'Stop Bullying: Speak Up' Campaign Hits 10-Year Milestone
This month, Cartoon Network celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign. That's a decade of the network using its large influence, leverage, and reach to promote kindness and empathy to millions of kids across the country.
When the campaign first launched in 2010, Cartoon Network's goal was to raise national awareness about the prevalence of bullying in America's schools. Since then, the campaign has evolved to meet the needs of the kids of the current generation, using creative storytelling, digital tools, and Cartoon Network's TV air space to capture their attention in today's fast paced and digital-centric world. Not to mention, bullying continues to be a major issue in schools, with two thirds of kids reporting that they had experienced a bullying incident at some point during their childhood, according to Cartoon Network's research.
In 2018, NCTA sat down with Jill King, Cartoon Network Senior Vice President of Marketing and Partnerships, after the network had just completed extensive research on bullying across the country in partnership with Harvard's Making Caring Common Project. The network had just embarked on a new course of action, which was to use the research they had come across to respond to what kids said they needed the most: Real-life examples of other kids who were successful in stopping bullying behavior in its tracks.
So in an expanded partnership with 826 National, a creative writing-based volunteer youth organization, the network collected stories from kids all over the country who wrote about bullying incidents they had witnessed, and who demonstrated step by step what they did to stop it. From there, the campaign organizers selected the most powerful stories told by kids and turned them into 30-second PSAs that were broadcast on Cartoon Network's airwaves and social media channels. These PSAs continue to air today as new stories come in.
"We look at the power of our air as a platform to elevate what kids are saying and what kids are doing," King told NCTA back when they first launched the first set of PSAs. "I think both teachers and parents have recognized Cartoon Network as a leader in this space. We've been so consistent with this program [Stop Bullying: Speak Up] and evolving it. We leverage all of our assets." Those assets also include the network's many partnerships with schools, community organizations, and after-school programs where the campaign works with 826 National to distribute physical kits and curricula on bullying awareness and prevention.
In 2019, the campaign further expanded when it partnered with PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center to launch, "Include Someone, Make a Difference." The initiative aims at stopping bullying before it even begins by encouraging kids to include a peer who is left out at recess or who needs to feel cared for at school. A new set of PSAs were developed to focus on real-life examples from kids who were actively trying to foster an inclusive environment at their schools.
The multiplatform campaign that Stop Bullying: Speak Up has turned into today continues to inform parents and kids about the dangers of bullying behavior, and empowers them to take matters into their own hands - to "speak up" - when bullying incidents arise. As the campaign starts a new decade, it's worth saluting Cartoon Network's efforts to use its resources and media power to not only highlight this important societal issue for America's youth, but to come up with ways to put an end to it as well.