Toon net launches public-service campaign

When Cartoon Network execs were considering issues to tackle through a public-service campaign, the problem of bullying quickly emerged as a natural fit with the cabler’s core demo of kids 9 to 12.

In conjunction with the start of the school year and National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month in October, the cabler is launching an on-air and online initiative to raise awareness of the issue and its root causes.

Cartoon Network brass began to realize the scope of the problem just from anecdotal conversations with their own staffers, according to Alice Cahn, Cartoon Network’s veep of social responsibility.

Nowadays, bullying isn’t just confined to the playground or the classroom. It can be greatly magnified for older kids by the world of social media.

“This is a long-term commitment for us,” Cahn says. “We reach a youth audience, (and) we have a social responsibility. (Kids) want to be entertained, but they also want to know how to be in the world.”

The campaign, shaped by a panel of scientists, educators and social service experts, will roll out starting Oct. 1. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will host a town hall forum on bullying as part of his “Anderson Cooper 360″ program during the first week of October.

The campaign includes a wealth of resources that will be distribbed to schools, day-care centers and other institutions. While the PSAs will target kids between 9 and 12, Cahn stresses the importance of getting parents on board to encourage kids to speak out when they witness intimidating behavior.

“What you want is for kids to choose it, you want parents to approve it, and you want educators to use it,” she says.

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