Campaign: NCH takes on the mobile phone bullies

With 97 per cent of 12 to 16-year-olds owning mobile phones (Mobile Youth, 2004), today's kids are the first generation to deal with bullying by mobile, such as happy-slapping and abusive texts and pictures. Last year, children's charity NCH launched an initiative in an effort to raise awareness of the problem and get schools to update their anti-bullying policies.

Campaign Putting U in the Picture
Client NCH
PR team In-house/Tesco Mobile in-house
Timescale June 2005 - January 2006
Budget £50,000

Objectives
To provide easily accessible advice to kids on how to deal with mobile-phone bullying. To lower the incidence of text bullying and get mobile firms to act.

Strategy and Plan
NCH teamed up with Tesco Mobile - the mobile phone arm of the retailer. Together they commissioned research into the experiences of mobile-owning youngsters, and presented the results at a June 2005 photocall.

Their report, 'Putting U in the Picture', revealed that 14 per cent of 11 to 19-year-olds had been bullied by text message. CD:UK presenter Myleene Klass  attended the photocall to talk with a group of teenagers about her own experiences of bullying.

In November, NCH revealed the results of an online poll to coincide with Anti-Bullying Week. The survey of teachers and parents showed that 74 per cent of educators were worried that their pupils could become victims of bullying by mobile. It also found that many parents were unaware of the problem, with 20 per cent deeming it to be rare or non-existent. These results were included in information packs sent to schools across the UK, supported by girl-band Love Bites, who also revealed their experiences of bullying.

NCH and Tesco Mobile then launched stoptextbully.com, an advice site for young people. This was complemented by a 24-hour textback service for victims of bullying - by texting the word 'bully' to a number, youngsters received advice.

Measurement and Evaluation
'Putting U in the Picture' gained widespread broadcast and national newspaper coverage. The study was reported by teen glossies CosmoGirl! and Bliss, and trade titles Young People Now, Children Now, Community Care and Third Sector.

As well as the BBC's Newsround, the education sections of The Guardian and The Independent - and The Times Educational Supplement - also covered the story. Meanwhile, websites politics.co.uk, computing.co.uk and silicon.com provided an online  presence for the survey.

The November poll likewise stirred up media interest, with mentions on BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio 1 and Radio 4, and articles in The Daily Telegraph, Daily Star and Report - the member magazine for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Results
Stoptextbully.com was accessed nearly 5,000 times on the day of its launch, with 16,000 hits in the first month of the campaign. Since November 2005, more than 3,000 information packs have been downloaded from the site.

NCH was invited to discuss the campaign with the Home Office, and Andrew Bailey MP referred to its research when calling for greater measures against bullying by mobile. The charity has also been approached by various companies wishing to take part in further research.

Young People Now deputy editor Charlotte Goddard says: 'The PR team gave us extra research for a bullying feature, and provided pictures.'

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