Public service initiative to be multiplatform, multiyear effort

MTV is partnering with Facebook, MySpace and others on a multiyear, multiplatform initiative combating so-called digital abuse of children and young adults.

The campaign, entitled “A Thin Line,” targets cyberbullying, sexually oriented text messages, online predators and other forms of digital abuse through TV programs and public service announcements that will air on the cabler and its online and mobile outlets.

MTV general manager Stephen Friedman told Daily Variety that “A Thin Line” was born almost a year ago, accelerated by a research study co-sponsored by MTV and the Associated Press finding that 50% of those aged 14-24 claimed they had been victims of digital abuse.

Among the more than 10 PSAs that MTV will launch today is the Joel Schumacher-directed “Tattoo,” which depicts cyberbullying as leaving a permanent mark on the victim. TV programs will include a February MTV News special devoted to the dangers of sexting and an episode of “True Life,” scheduled for March, exploring digital abuse. Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) is among the celebrities scheduled to participate in the campaign onscreen.

“I think the promos and the TV shows are going to be very important to waking up our audience to some of the damage (people) are really inflicting without even realizing,” Friedman said.

The website Athinline.org will host the online campaign under the MTV.com umbrella. Facebook and MySpace have signed on as partners to help promote the campaign, and MTV is also sponsoring a contest for viewers to create their own online tool to help raise awareness.

Other backers of “A Thin Line” include the Family Violence Prevention Fund, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, Wired Safety, Anti-Defamation League, Blue Shield of California Foundation, DoSomething.org and Liz Claiborne.

“We’re calling it a multiyear campaign because I think it’s just the beginning,” Friedman said. “What we’re finding is there’s not much of a code of ethics in (cyberspace) with this audience. … The audience will self-police at some point, but it’s going to take a while.”

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