Bullying Awareness Campaigns
by Mr Bullyproof | Follow Him on Twitter Here
Bullying awareness campaigns can be very effective at getting a message out that there is a problem which must be addressed. This can create some much needed public pressure to get some action taken. I wonder though if they do enough and I wonder how they could be made more effective.
I have become increasingly sceptical of bullying awareness campaigns. Having questioned many organisers of such campaigns I have discovered a trend. When I ask what specifically the campaign is to achieve I get a quizzical look as though the answer should be blatantly obvious and I must be completely clueless not to know. “To let people know about the bullying problem” is the usual delayed response, followed by another strange look. At this point I ask “And what will that achieve?” and I discover that this is a question they have not asked themselves.
Somebody recognises a bullying problem, says ‘Something must be done!’ and starts out on an anti bullying campaign. Very noble, I grant you. But what really is the purpose? These campaigns on their own do not stop bullying. They can only work if effective strategies are put in place to prevent bullying from happening and to successfully stop it when it does happen. My issue with the awareness campaigns is that they are too often seen as a solution in themselves. ‘If we get everyone to see the problem then the problem will somehow, magically disappear.’ Very wishful thinking.
Sadly, in many institutions it is deemed more important to be seen to do something about a problem rather than to effectively solve it.
Who exactly is a particular campaign aimed at? The bullies? The victims? Parents? Employees? Managers? Teachers? It makes a big difference. If you aim a campaign at everyone you will most likely influence no one. Any good marketing professional will tell you that. Audiences need to be targeted. If your intention is to pressure a school to change policy, for example, perhaps a campaign targeting parents would be the most effective option.
So many anti bullying campaigns seem to have no specific intention other than raising awareness. It’s such a waste. Ask some bullying victims if bullying awareness campaigns have prevented them from being bullied. If you find a number of them who say yes then I’d really like to hear from you.
Telling people that ‘bullying is wrong and should not take place’ as part of a campaign is particularly useless, in my opinion. Here’s why: They already know that! It doesn’t stop them. The vast majority of bullies don’t consider themselves to be bullies anyway so they won’t think it applies to them. Worse still, the victims know exactly how ineffective this is and it only serves to re-enforce beliefs that no one can help them.
So what makes a good anti-bullying campaign? One that has a clear purpose and leads to good implementation of effective anti bullying strategies. Ask yourself how, specifically, less people are going to be bullied as a result of your campaign and be honest to yourself with your answers. Target your audience, tell them what you expect them to do and tell them when to do it. If no action is taken as a result or your campaign then it was all for nothing.
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