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Media Guidelines for Bullying Prevention

Media Guidelines for Bullying Prevention available at stopbullying.gov

Media coverage of social issues has a profound impact on how communities understand and address problems. Research and expert opinion suggest that certain trends in media coverage of bullying have the potential to do harm. The Media Guidelines for Bullying Prevention offer help to journalists, bloggers, the entertainment creative community, and others who are developing content about bullying.

About These Recommendations

Increased media attention to bullying has elevated this issue to the forefront of public opinion. Although little scholarly attention has been devoted to studying media coverage of bullying, qualitative research and expert opinion suggest that the intensity and possible inaccuracies in some of this coverage may be negatively affecting the public. In response, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, created a Media Coverage of Bullying Task Force, which produced the recommendations and resources included in SAMHAS's "Media Guidelines for Bullying Prevention."

SAMHSA's Media Guidelines for Bullying Prevention include the following sections to support accurate media coverage of bullying:

  • Facts About Bullying
    • Reporters and other content creators need the facts quickly. This section pulls together fundamental information about bullying you can use to build your pieces.
  • Best Practices
    • Reporting on bullying poses challenges for journalists and other content creators. It involves reporting accurately on situations with complex emotions and cloudy details. Accurately informing the public is increasingly important as research suggests that certain trends in media coverage have the potential to do harm. This section provides a list of best practices to assist journalists and other content creators.
  • What to Avoid
    • Many studies show that the media has the power to influence the public's view of the world. That's why it's so important to get messages about bullying right—especially in an era when misinformation can spread across the Internet in an instant. This section provides examples of common pitfalls.
  • Creating Content Online
    • The sharable, remixable, and permanent nature of digital media means small things can have a large impact. Anyone who creates online content about bullying—from casual tweeters to paid journalists—can use their online presence to accurately inform and connect with readers about the topic, guide them to quality bullying resources, and ultimately be part of the solution. This section provides suggestions for creating content online.
  • Entertainment Media
    • Almost everyone can relate to stories about bullying. It is no wonder so many movies, TV shows, video games, and other forms of entertainment include bullying themes. When a storyline reflects bullying in the real world, it is as compelling for audiences as it is a powerful tool for change. This section features suggestions to help the entertainment creative community represent bullying authentically and have a positive effect on audiences through their storytelling.
  • Expert Help
    • Choosing sources to give insight about a bullying story can be difficult—especially on deadline. But a qualified expert can mean the difference between a well-reported story and one that aggravates the situation or increases misperceptions. This section includes guidance for selecting a qualified expert.