“Stop Bullying” Telefono Azzurro launches the new campaign Back To School

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It’s time to get Back To School, so Telefono Azzurro is focusing the attention of the media, the world of teaching and society at large on bullying. In 68% of cases this is a phenomenon which occurs in the school environment and the vast majority of cases remain unreported: according to the latest data collected by Telefono Azzurro, only 1 kid out of 5 lets an adult know that he/she has been the victim of bullying.

To break the silence at the beginning of a new school year Telefono Azzurro is launching a no-profit communication project entitled “Ferma il bullismo” (Stop Bullying) created by Armando Testa. The new film, for TV and the web, tells the story of a man who obsessively, every single day, relives the violence he suffered many years earlier. No holes barred images which stay in your memory, as does the final claim (“What you suffer as a youngster can condition your whole life”).

But the real situation is not so remote: victims of bullying are more vulnerable to the risk of committing suicide with double the probability compared to their contemporaries (according to international research 10% of the victims attempt suicide), and 30% self-harm.

This is a daily challenge that Telefono Azzurro and Ministry of Education are tackling together. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with MIUR (Department of Education) on 1 February 2015 and since then Telefono Azzurro has been the “National line for fighting against the phenomenon of bullying”, with the free phone number 1.96.96 (active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) and with its chat (www.azzurro.it/chat). The memorandum also includes awareness building activities and training in schools, which is powerful in encouraging improved methods of prevention and intervention.

“We stand side by side and we offer our full support to the activities which Telefono Azzurro carries out, in particular on the front of fighting bullying – declares the Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Education Andrea Faraone –These are serious phenomena, which are unfortunately widespread in Italian schools, we have to tackle them together so that schools in this country can become better places”.

“Bullying can be defeated – says Professor Ernesto Caffo, chairman of Telefono Azzurro and Full professor of Child Neuropsychiatry at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia – In order to do so, it is fundamental to break the silence which surrounds and isolates the victims, killing all sorts of hope. But that is not enough, we’ve got to know how to recognise the signs of what is happening in the classrooms and the corridors of our schools, and take timely action.

For this reason, the close collaboration between Telefono Azzurro and MIUR is emerging as strategic in developing an integrated approach which starts off from the appeal for help coming form kids, children and adults, and then involves the parents, teachers and other figures from the world of school, to finally reach out to the community at large in an communal effort to interrupt the violence and promote prosocial values.

The scale of the problem makes it clear that improvised, repressive or mere emergency intervention is not enough to tackle it. Long-term strategies, targeted training, shared practices, supported by efficient data, a local network of intervention and international collaboration are all needed. Telefono Azzurro is moving on these fronts: that’s why anyone who calls us and asks for our help will never be left alone”.

ARMANDO TESTA – SPOT “Ferma il Bullismo” (Stop bullying)
The Armando Testa campaign has been created once again by copywriter Federico Bonenti, and art directors Andrea Lantelme and Barbara Ghiotti, with executive creative direction from Michele Mariani. Production company Movie Magic, directed by Gigi Cassano.

1.96.96 from Telefono Azzurro “National line for fighting the phenomenon of bullying”
The number 1.96.96 is a multi-media platform where Telefono Azzurro will listen, and it represents the first “go to” point for kids and adolescents who are in difficulty and victims of violence and bullying. There are two channels for listening; one is a free phone line, active 24 hours a day, and the other an online chat (active every day from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm) which can be accessed from the site www.azzurro.it. In recent years the chat line has proved to be a particularly powerful tool in tackling issues related to bullying, as well as the perfect channel for digital natives: as they chat kids and adolescents can remain anonymous and often this allows them to be freer in expressing their own emotions and fears and reporting cases of violence and persecution from their contemporaries.