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Campaign: The Backbone Zone

“Everyone has a backbone. Use yours,” is the message of a new anti-bullying campaign

Jordie Black

Thu, 08 Nov 2012 16:15:45 GMT | Updated 4 years today

The Backbone Zone, a campaign stemming from Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA), helps students recognise and stand up to to homophobic and sexist abuse.


Many students are forced to deal with insulting, derogatory remarks, words thrown around without any understanding of the effect they could have; and children all over the world fall victim to harassment because of their perceived masculinity or femininity.


Those made subject to this abuse find that their safety, and ability to learn becomes jeopardised. Fifteen per cent of students in Maine High School said they didn't agree with the statement, "I feel safe at my school". This figure is quite likely representative of students across the world  - Stonewall confirms that 35% of UK school pupils would agree. 


The team at the Backbone Zone work hard generating measures to ensure homophobic and gender-based crime is reduced. The first step: teaching students to recognise the changes they can make in the world. Homophobic and sexist comments do affect people; but by simply changing the words students use, they can put an end to gender-bullying and sexual harassment.


Secondly, encouraging students to become active bystanders when witnessing verbal abuse persuades them not to stand and do nothing, but to intervene, find their backbone, and use it.


Whilst the posters appear light-hearted and humorous, juxtaposing an insulting phrase with a picture of its literal meaning, they convey a powerful message.


Cara Courchesne, a Backbone Zone representative, told DIVA: "We know that engaged bystanders can shift the behaviour of those around them. This is especially important regarding gender-based bullying and sexual harassment. The Backbone Zone encourages students (and everyone really) to change the world they live in by giving very concrete examples of what one can do to be an engaged bystander". 


Backbone Zone's posters and other material that supports the campaign are affordable and can be found here:

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  • Commissioner Pleb - Thu, 08 Nov 2012 22:07:08 GMT -

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    I'm in my 40s and hear people talking about how bad it was for LGBT people in the 70s 80s. To me it is worse now, especially for young people. And certainly did not hear of teenagers taking their own lives as a result of bullying anywhere as often as now. Now it is more important to have a stoic watch on bullying. At a guess, and I am no PHD or whatever, it appears to be a result of young peole being forced to meet higher and more impossible images of perfection and hate being able to be enacted throgh Social Networks.