Seventeen magazine and TV station ABC Family have combined forces to raise awareness about digital abuse and cyberbullying. Their “Delete Digital Drama” efforts will begin this summer, when ABC Family features PSAs on its station starting July 5th and the magazine highlights different online issues – including stories from readers – in its August issue. Ann Shoket, editor-in-chief of the magazine, explained why these efforts are taking place, saying, “We hear so many tragic stories of teens who feel hurt, abused and victimized by bullies – and it has to end. ABC Family is such an important partner and the young stars of its shows are such influential role models to help spread the word that teens and young people have the power to delete digital drama and stop cyberbullying in its tracks.” And president of ABC Family Michael Riley said, “We’re proud to work with Seventeen in an effort to put an end to digital abuse. We recognize that we have a significant opportunity to shine a spotlight on a very troubling issue affecting our Millenial audience, and by engaging viewers, we can show them that with each step, big and small, we can all help put a stop to bullying.”
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of these efforts will be a 2-hour original movie called “Cyberbully,” premiering on ABC Family on July 17th. The movie, starring young actress Emily Osment, tells the story of a teen who gets her own computer but is then bullied online and betrayed by friends and classmates. Afraid to face her peers back at school, she eventually realizes she isn’t alone and that other teens have had similar experiences. Her mom also takes action in the story, fighting back against the school system and even state legislation to help other teens avoid what her daughter went through as a result of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying, online predators, and other online dangers are a new – but very relevant theme in movies and teen initiatives these days. Trust, a film which opened last month, told the story of a girl who was sexually abused and exploited after meeting an older man online. And schools and organizations all over the country are making creative and innovative efforts to raise awareness about cyberbullying and other online dangers, including the Weekly Reader’s real-time and interactive Shakespeare play and Trend Micro’s “What’s Your Story?” video contest. Hopefully by keeping kids informed – and entertained – these kinds of initiatives can seriously change the way kids view digital abuse and the resulting consequences, and can help to “Delete Digital Drama” as much as possible.
What are other effective ways you can think of to raise awareness of online dangers like cyberbullying?