MTV on 12/3 unveiled “A Thin Line,” a 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 by MTV and The Associated Press exploring the full scope of digital abuse, 50% of 14-24 year olds have been the target of some form of digital abuse, and 30% have sent or received nude photos of other young people on their cell phones or online. Three in 10 young people have sent or received nude pictures of other young people on their cell or online, and 61% who have “sexted” report being pressured to do so at least once. Beyond significant others, 29% of respondents who have shared naked images of themselves did so with someone they only knew online and never met in person, and 24% shared the images with someone they were interested in dating or hooking up with.
Additionally 12% 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.
A Thin Line will address digital abuse issues through a series of on-air, online and real world initiatives including integration in MTV’s, an MTV News special focused on Sexting, True Life: I have Digital Drama, PSAs, online and mobile tools and the “Redraw the Line Challenge” — which calls on young people to submit innovative digital antidotes to digital abuse. MTV also launched www.ATHINLINE.org where young people can access information, resources and support on issues related to 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.
The effort kicked off 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.
— 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, 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 disproportionately 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: 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.
— 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.