Popular retail store Claire’s and anti-bullying charity The Cybersmile Foundation have announced the launch of a Bullying Prevention Month initiative that educates and empowers young people while encouraging kindness.
Teaching Good Digital Hygiene
Over the past several years, global internet use has been on the rise, with an estimated 3.2 billion people connected in 2015, increasing to over 4.3 billion as of 2019, with the trend set to continue.
China, India and other developing nations have led this surge, but consequently, incidents of online harassment, abuse, and cyberbullying have also been increasing around the world – intensifying the need for scalable and sustainable solutions for education and support.
For millennials and younger generations, the lack of ‘digital hygiene’ as cybersecurity expert, Robert Herjavec once told me, is highly attributable to the very poor behavior and habits individuals engage in online. Unfortunately, this poor hygiene has led to a long line of legal problems.
With educational programs such as workshops that teach digital civility being introduced, corporations and stakeholders are taking meaningful strides to address the balance of negativity on the internet.
In a previous conversation with Herjavec, he believes there will be over 3 million job openings worldwide in our field in the next three to four years, making it all the more necessary for programs and partnerships such as Claire’s and The Cybersmile Foundation, all the more essential.
Claire’s and the Power of Branding
Recently, leading Palo Alto based nonprofit, The Cybersmile Foundation, which I am an Advisory Board member to, made its curriculum available online for free to schools and parents, aimed at helping children and young adults from the age of 5 to 16+ navigate life online. These programs and workshops have been made possible thanks to the support and partnerships of Claire’s Inc., Twitter, Riot Games, Microsoft, and Intel.
Some of America’s biggest brands have made a full curriculum of digital workshops available for children and teenagers to learn about life on the internet. Topics covered include online safety, emotional awareness, cyberbullying, and enhancing empathy.
But for Claire’s and The Cybersmile Foundation’s partnership, this dates to 2017, which has so far enabled the charity to help over 43,000 young and vulnerable people.
This month-long campaign titled #ClairesCares will promote important online safety and anti-bullying messages, while raising funds for Cybersmile’s education and support facilities by collecting donations in Claire’s stores across North America, Canada and the U.K.
As part of the campaign, Claire’s have created a Cybersmile themed landing page with top tips for dealing with bullying and cyberbullying, along with the opportunity to take the Digital Civility Challenge, an interactive educational quiz which educates users on important topics including digital civility, online safety, using emoji, online security, fact checking, and technology & wellbeing.
Funds raised throughout the campaign will be used to provide help and support to young people affected by a wide variety of important social issues which include cyberbullying, bullying, anxiety, body image and mental health. The funds will also contribute to the further development of Cybersmile’s interactive learning platform, which delivers fun, interactive educational experiences for people of all ages.
In today’s digital age, cyberbullying has quickly become one of the main concerns for parents of young children and teenagers. A 2018 study by Pew Research Center indicated that over half (59%) of teens in the U.S. have reported being bullied online, and over a third (39%) of girls reported false rumors being spread online with the real number likely to be much higher.
Last year, the Cybersmile Foundation also partnered with Coty’s Rimmel London cosmetic brand, introducing the Cybersmile Assistant, an AI-driven tool they hope can help, along with an initiative called #IWillNotBeDeleted. The partnership, set to last three years, puts singer Rita Ora and supermodel Cara Delevinge, both Rimmel spokespeople, front and center, but also leverages a more powerful tool—influencers.
The idea stems from Rimmel research that one in four young women have experienced beauty cyberbullying and that those negative or abusive comments result in the deletion of 115 million social media images each year.
The Law Is Still Catching Up
Currently, there is no federal cyberbullying law, which is part of the problem. But, at the end of the day, how would you structure it?
States are starting to construct their own laws, most recently with Maryland’s law, dubbed Grace’s Law 2.0, pushed forward by Senator Bobby Zirkin and Christine McComas, mother and voice to Grace McComas.
Unfortunately, the burden will continue to fall upon organizational partnerships such as Claires/Cybersmile Foundation and political leaders including Senator Zirkin, to help move us forward in a positive and healthy digital age.
If you are passionate about getting involved, please share the #ClairesCares across social media and you will find yourself immersed in a great community devoted to sharing love and happiness.