MTV LAUNCHES MULTI-YEAR INITIATIVE “A THIN LINE” TO EMPOWER YOUTH TO STOP SPREAD OF DIGITAL ABUSE
New AP/MTV Study Finds 50% of 14-24 Year Olds Have Experienced Digital Abuse,
3 in 10 Have Sent or Received Nude ‘Sext’ Messages
Network to Air MTV News ‘Sexting’ Special; $75,000 ‘Redraw the Line Challenge’ Calls on Audience to Imagine Digital Solutions
Best-in-Class Partners Include Facebook, MySpace, The Family Violence Prevention Fund, Anti-Defamation League, and More
New York, NY, December 3rd, 2009 -- MTV today unveiled “A THIN LINE,” a new multi-year initiative to empower America’s youth to identify, respond to and stop the spread of digital abuse. Digital abuse is an emerging issue that includes behaviors like “sexting,” cyberbullying and digital dating abuse. According to a new study released today by MTV and The Associated Press exploring the full scope of digital abuse, 50 percent of 14 – 24 year olds have been the target of some form of digital abuse, and 30 percent have sent or received nude photos of other young people on their cell phones or online. Full survey findings are available at research.ATHINLINE.org.
MTV’s “A THIN LINE” will address digital abuse issues through a series of on-air, online and real world initiatives including integration in MTV’s top-rated programming, an MTV News special focused on Sexting, True Life: I have Digital Drama, thought-provoking PSAs, innovative online and mobile tools and the “Redraw the Line Challenge” -- which calls on young people to submit innovative digital antidotes to digital abuse. Today, MTV also launched www.ATHINLINE.org where young people can access information, resources and support on issues related to digital abuse.
“Our audience lives online, and while every generation deals with their own set of abuse issues, the digital sphere exponentially increases opportunities for misuse,” said Stephen Friedman, General Manager of MTV. “There is a very thin line between private and public, this moment and forever, love and abuse, and words and wounds. ‘A THIN LINE,’ is built to empower our audience to draw their own line between digital use and digital abuse. “
MTV’s partners on “A THIN LINE” include a coalition of the foremost authorities on all facets of digital abuse, including Facebook, MySpace, The Family Violence Prevention Fund, WiredSafety, Anti-Defamation League, Blue Shield of California Foundation, loveisrespect.org, The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, National Network to End Domestic Violence, The Liz Claiborne Inc., DoSomething.org, Break the Cycle, Ruder Finn, Teenangels and PBS’ FRONTLINE. “A THIN LINE” kicked off today in tandem with Liz Claiborne Inc.’s It’s Time To Talk Day, an annual day dedicated to ensuring that Americans speak-up and raise national attention around domestic violence including teen dating violence and intimate partner abuse.
Elements of “A THIN LINE” include:
• Associated Press / MTV Digital Abuse Study: The study, released today, offers an in-depth look at the pervasiveness of digital abuse, how it’s affecting America’s youth, how they’re responding to it, their concerns and much more. Key findings from the report show that 3 in 10 young people have sent or received nude pictures of other young people on their cell or online, and 61 percent who have “sexted” report being pressured to do so at least once. Beyond significant others, 29 percent of respondents who have shared naked images of themselves did so with someone they only knew online and never met in person, and 24 percent shared the images with someone they were interested in dating or hooking up with.
Additionally, 12 percent of those who have “sexted” have contemplated suicide, four times more likely than those who haven’t (12% vs. 3%, respectively). Further, targets of digital abuse are almost three times as likely to contemplate suicide as those who haven’t encountered it (8% vs. 3%), and nearly three times more likely to have considered dropping out of school.
When it comes to online behavior, only half think their actions could come back to haunt them, and 1 in 4 believe that their digital actions could have legal consequences. To view the full study, please head to research.ATHINLINE.org.
• MTV News Special Report: Sexting: MTV News will take a deeper look at a developing trend affecting teens across the nation: sexting. By speaking directly to young people who have been personally impacted by digital abuse, the 30 minute special, set to premiere timed to Valentine’s Day 2010, will examine how this trend is impacting youth culture and relationships, the stakes involved – from legal to emotional to reputational – and how “sexting” is becoming a new frontier for teen dating abuse.
• “True Life: I Have Digital Drama”: MTV’s Emmy-Award winning, ground-breaking documentary series will take a close look at how digital platforms are creating trust, privacy and harassment issues for two young couples.
• Redraw the Line Challenge: Young people are disproportionally affected by digital abuse – and they are best equipped to truly address its viral spread. With support from Blue Shield of California Foundation, MTV is asking America’s youth to imagine high-potential digital antidotes -- such as new mobile or Web-based services, social games or viral content -- that help stop the spread of digital abuse. The winning individual or team will be rewarded with $10K, plus a chance to work with MTV – and a development budget of up to $75K – to see their idea actualized. For more details, head to challenge.ATHINLINE.org.
• PSAs: The backbone of the campaign is a suite of thought-provoking PSAs that address a wide range of digital behaviors including coerced sexting, textual harassment, digital prejudice, threatening messages, ganging up and much more. The first wave of campaign PSAs were directed by acclaimed director Joel Schumacher, and include spots like “Public Nudity” and “Tattoo.”
• Online and Mobile Tools: “A THIN LINE” gives young people one-click access to digital abuse information, resources and support systems online or on their cell phones at ATHINLINE.org. The online hub helps teens understand the hallmarks of healthy relationships, while providing suggested responses and help if they or their friends are encountering abuse, and will host a vibrant conversation on the issue. Users can also access the campaign’s resources by texting “line” to 66333.
• MTV’S “A THIN LINE” Advisory Board: MTV has built a coalition of the foremost authorities on digital abuse, including leading experts in cyber-crime, teen dating violence, adolescent psychology, and other teen issues. Advisory board members include Parry Aftab, Executive Director of Wired Safety and StopCyberbullying.org; Esta Soler, Founder and President, Family Violence Prevention Fund; Jane Randel, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Liz Claiborne Inc.; Virginia Witt, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at Blue Shield of California Foundation; Dr. Jill Murray, psychologist and internationally-recognized expert on teen dating abuse; Cindy Southworth, Founder and Director or the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence; and Casi Lumbra, a teen online security expert, who has addressed audiences at the United Nations and Harvard Law School.
• Liz Claiborne Inc.’s It’s Time To Talk Day: “A THIN LINE” kicked off today in tandem with Liz Claiborne Inc’s It’s Time To Talk Day, an annual day dedicated to ensuring that Americans speak-up and raise national attention around domestic violence including teen dating violence and intimate partner abuse. This year, the day will include a specific focus on digital abuse, as the company announces that it is updating its Love Is Not Abuse curriculum to include a lesson specifically on digital dating abuse for schools across America. As of August 2009, the curriculum, which aims to raise awareness of dating abuse and provide resources for help, has been distributed to approximately 6,000 schools and organizations across all 50 states. The Love Is Not Abuse curriculum is offered free of charge at www.loveisnotabuse.com.
• Educational Curriculums: MTV is working to make the campaign’s assets available as teaching tools, as part of existing curriculums on cyber bullying and dating abuse from Liz Claiborne, Hazelden, WiredSafety’s StopCyberbullying and the Anti-Defamation League – currently taught in thousands of high and middle schools nationwide.
For more information on MTV’s “A THIN LINE” campaign, or details on how to get involved, please visit AThinLine.org or head to the campaign’s Facebook, MySpace or Twitter pages.
Partner and Advisory Board Quotes:
“The safety of our users is paramount to us, and only by working together can we seek to educate young people about the dangers of digital abuse and cyberbullying,” said Tim Sparapani, Director of Public Policy at Facebook. “We applaud and support MTV for all of the work it has done to launch ‘A Thin Line,’ and are pleased to be a part of this important initiative which both empowers and educates.”
“With today’s teens living their lives online, we must all work together to empower teens with the know how they need to live their lives online and off—with courage, strength, and dignity,” said Hemanshu Nigam, Chief Security Officer of MySpace and News Corporation. “MySpace is proud to partner with MTV for the ‘A Thin Line campaign’ to give our youth the knowledge they can use now and tomorrow to be well-balanced and well-protected digital citizens.”
“We are very proud to collaborate with MTV on this important work to help stop digital abuse,” said Esta Soler, President of the Family Violence Prevention Fund. “By raising awareness of digital abuse in an innovative and relevant way, ‘A Thin Line’ will shine a spotlight on a problem that is affecting our young people in countless schools and communities across the country.”
“Digital abuse is so pervasive today that many young people consider standard online behavior,” said Parry Aftab, Executive Director of WiredSafety and StopCyberbullying.org. “‘A THIN LINE’ is a vehicle for change that should spark a national conversation and hopefully awaken young people to a better understanding of how to protect themselves digitally.”
"It's encouraging that MTV is taking a youth empowerment approach with this exciting new campaign,” said Virginia Witt, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at Blue Shield of California Foundation. “Youth should lead the way in dialing down their relationship drama."
"’A Thin Line’ is one of the most ambitious and well executed projects I've had the pleasure to be involved with,” said Dr. Jill Murray. “The fact that MTV is addressing it's audience in such an important and thoughtful manner will do so much to stem the tide of digital technology abuses."
“Teen dating violence and abuse is pervasive and made all the more dangerous by the very technology intended to help us stay more connected,” said Jane Randel, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Liz Claiborne Inc. “Parents and schools need to recognize that their kids are dealing with these issues regularly and learn how to address both dating abuse and the digital abuse that can go along with it. It is only through education – annually in middle and high schools and at home – that we can start to break the cycle of violence that is gripping our nation.”
“Dating abusers will misuse any technology device, from spoofing caller ID and text messages to terrorize a victim to remotely installing SpyWare to monitor the victims every computer move,” said Cindy Southworth, Founder and Director or the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “MTV's innovative digital abuse campaign will reach millions and help keep technology from being misused to harm and abuse. “
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