The numbers are staggering — one out of every four students reports being bullied during the school year. More than 70 percent of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools, and 55 percent of LGBT students have experienced cyberbullying.
It’s something New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, WWE superstar John Cena, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, Miami Heat center Chris Bosh and many other athletes have reported having to face.
ESPN and Disney–ABC Television Group are taking a stand against bullying by working together to encourage viewers to “choose kindness” during National Bullying Prevention Month in October.
A new public service announcement spreading the kindness message will run on ABC, ESPNU, Longhorn Network and the SEC Networks (see video below).
“I was bullied when I was younger, and know what it’s like to feel different and wondering if that’s OK,” said Toni Collins, ESPN digital anchor. “I hope that our viewers watching the Choose Kindness PSA hear the message that it’s okay to be you. Be awesome. Be inspired.”
Additionally, ESPN and Disney–ABC Television Group are sponsoring the “Choose Kindness” campaign with DoSomething.org, the largest organization for youth and social change. The campaign encourages young people to post inspirational quotes from famous athletes and writers in locker rooms, gyms and libraries — places that can trigger or be a refuge for low self-esteem — to help improve students’ confidence and spread positivity.
“Athletes and celebrities have an incredible platform to inspire, and we hope to use the power of sports to spread inspirational messages that empower young people to stop bullying,” said Vice President of ESPN Corporate Citizenship, Kevin Martinez.
ESPN also is supporting anti-bullying initiatives through grants for Stomp Out Bullying, GLAAD and GLSEN.
“We all deserve to live without fear of anything or anyone,” said Will Reeve, SportsCenter reporter. “Everyone deserves a fair shot at life and a safe environment in which to live, work, play or study. Only when we are free to be ourselves can we realize our true potential. It is up to us to end bullying, and together we can and we will.”