Don't stand by

Rivlin launches anti-bullying campaign

Celebrities and ‘online influencers’ join president in urging schoolchildren and young people to act against intimidation, exclusion on social media

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday launched an anti-cyberbullying campaign aimed at schoolchildren and young people, urging them to be proactive in combating online intimidation.

“Social exclusion and bullying are nothing new, but in the digital age there are new ways to harm and abuse people — and verbal violence kills,” Rivlin said during a celebrity-studded event at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, according to a statement from his office.

“It kills children’s dreams and hopes every day, and has already claimed the lives of children who did not find a way out of the suffering and ended their own lives,” Rivlin continued. “We will not stand by. We will not stand by, because even if it is not the easy thing to do, it is the right thing to do.”

The initiative, under the title “DontStandBy,” includes a video clip featuring Rivlin calling on the country’s youth to take notice of bullying or the exclusion of others, and then do something about it.

An accompanying video clip has short tips from a string of celebrities and “online influencers” who also advise on how to counter bullying, the statement said.

Both videos have been posed to the president’s official YouTube channel.

There are also plans for an Instagram page with tips and a filter that includes Rivlin in the frame, enabling children to make photos of themselves with the president when they share stories of how they stood up to bullying.

The initiative is partnered with the local Children’s Channel, Educational TV, and the US-based Nickelodeon television station.

Among those who participated in the launch event were senior officials from the education and public security ministries

Singer Noa Kirel attends a press conference on a new campaign to raise awareness of cyberbullying among youth, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on February 16, 2020. (Flash90)

In his video message to children, Rivlin is shown as though speaking from a photograph of himself hanging on a classroom wall. The president declares he is relying on “all schoolkids in Israel and everywhere” to take up the initiative against bullying.

“Thousands of kids suffer bullying and have to face loneliness and violence,” he says. “Together you have the power to beat the bullying.”

Versions of the Hebrew-language video with English or Arabic subtitles were also made.

The celebrity video includes teen pop singer Noa Kirel, who tells children to be mindful about content that can be hurtful to others.

More advice comes from Eurovision Song Contest winner Netta Barzilai, who tells viewers that if they are aware of a friend who is boycotting another child then they should persuade the boycotter to end the exclusion, because to boycott “is not cool.”

Emcees at the ceremony in Jerusalem were YouTube celebrity Kevin Rubin and Kirel, who recently began her national service in the Israel Defense Forces.

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