Statistics show that bullying, cyber-bullying and teen dating violence result in long-term negative effects for youth. A discussion on an initiative partnered with the NFL to tackle this pervasive issue. With?with Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide.
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Interview recorded on November 30, 2016.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: Bullying, cyber-bulling, and teen-dating violence continue to be pervasive issues that put immense pressure on communities all across this country. And recent studies suggest that mistreatment or bullying by peers in childhood can result in long-term negative effects well into adulthood. Joining me is Brian Gallagher -- the president and CEO of United Way Worldwide -- to discuss an initiative to tackle this wide-spread problem. Brian, welcome to the program.
Gallagher: Thanks, Robert, it's good to be here.
Traynham: What's frightening about some of the studies that I'm gonna recite to you that I read a few moments ago -just alarmed me. -
Traynham: 90% of teens who have seen social media bullying say they have ignored it. That's according to the Pew Research Center. 62% of teachers, Brian, reported 2 or more instances of bullying at their school in the past month. This was about a year and a half ago. These are pretty alarming statistics.
Gallagher: Yeah, you know what, it says to me and to us is that bullying, especially cyber-bullying has become normalized. That it's folks -- young people -- don't know how to respond to it. It's become, you know, what you'll say online is amazingly different than what you'll say face to face to somebody. And that kind of carries over into classrooms and after-school events and so forth. -It's a problem. -
Traynham: A big problem. To the point where you have teamed up with the NFL to start and initiative called Character Playbook.
Gallagher: Character Playbook. So we've had a 40-year relationship with the NFL. A lot of people know us because of the commercials with NFL players. What we've done is we've teamed up with the league, but also with individual teams to bring --
Traynham: All across the country?
Gallagher: All across the country. So you know, Redskins in Washington, Bears in Chicago, across all the NFL markets to target middle school kids, grades seven through nine. The goal is to get to 1.2 million middle schoolers by 2020 with something called the Character Playbook, which is an interactive digital set of modules that you watch together as students.
Traynham: With parents, with teachers?
Gallagher: With teachers -- it's in school.
Gallagher: So there's tips for parents to be involved. But it's in school. I saw it during the NFL draft in Chicago in a middle school in Chicago. And it's focused on, how do you react? If you see bullying, what do you do? If you're a victim of bullying, how do you respond? And what's interesting is that the module is really designed to have four or five young people sitting together. And to talk with each other. Because there's no -- we've got to normalize that this isn't right. But we also have to help them figure out, so what's my response? And what is -- we call it Character Playbook because what is -- what's the character that's required to respond?
Traynham: Brian, it sounds like this is peer-to-peer learning and it's also role playing. To the extent where, you're in the situation, this is what you're supposed to do.
Gallagher: This is what you're supposed to do, and, you know, by the way, teachers have seen this in classrooms, as well. And so, already, we've had 228 schools adopt this since the spring because teachers have seen it as part of an important curriculum. And what's interesting is, when the players come into a classroom, everybody listens. -
Traynham: Right. -
Gallagher: Everybody listens.
Traynham: Because those are role models in the community. What's really interesting about this program, too, Brian, my understanding is Vice President Biden, Senator McCaskill, who is a senator from Missouri, as well as Senator Tim Kaine, a senator from Virginia, have also embraced this effort.
Gallagher: Yeah. It's -- you know, every -- it's becoming clear that this is a problem. So, there's a lot of initiatives being thought of and a lot of folks getting behind efforts like this. But what's key is, how do you take a brand like the NFL, how do you take a brand like United Way, and focus it through schools, in peer interaction, to change the norm? And so, I think that's why it's getting so much support, that we've shown the NFL and United Way that, when we work together, we actually lift each other. And it kind of change -- it can change a discussion. And so, we've decided to take our partnership -and point it at this issue.