How A Powerful Anti-Bullying Message Became One Simple Emoji

There’s no need to explain that bullying is horrible, but the problem might be worse than you realize. Kids who witness bullying are more likely to struggle with problems like substance abuse and truancy even if they’re not bullied themselves, so the issue radiates well beyond the individual young people who experience abuse.

A new initiative that launched in late October hopes to give those witnesses a simple way to express themselves and shut down bullying as soon as it starts.

Dubbed “I Am A Witness,” the campaign is a collaboration between major tech companies and marketing agencies. Its logo, a simple icon depicting an open eye within a speech bubble, has already made its way into your iPhone’s emoji set, though you might not have noticed it yet:

The idea is to give kids a way to call out bullying in text messages or online communications. If someone’s trashing a peer, you can simply respond with the emoji instead of using words.

This emoji felt like it could give teens something to say when they don’t know what to say,” Lisa Sherman, CEO of Ad Council, told The Huffington Post in a phone interview.

Ad Council spearheaded the I Am A Witness campaign, which pulled financial and creative support from companies like Apple, Adobe and Facebook. Advertising firm Goodby, Silverstein and Partners designed the campaign’s logo, which was then converted into an emoji and approved by the Unicode Consortium, the organization that standardizes special characters across platforms. (You could think of it as the group that makes sure ” ” communicates a winking face regardless of what device you’re viewing it on.)

Of course, there’s a unique challenge to emojis: It’s not always clear what they mean, exactly. Sometimes they take on a life of their —> Read More