United Way & NFL Are Teaching Kids How to Build Healthy Relationships to Keep Them Safe From Harm

Every year, the rise in temperature brings a new measurement of the hottest trends—the take-off song of the summer, the highest-grossing summer movie, the must-have toy or fashion of the season. Add to that list, the app of the summer.

Sarahah, which means candor or openness in Arabic, is an app that was designed to help users discover their strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from their employees and friends in a private manner. According to Fortune, it’s the app of the summer. But its explosive growth has apparently been driven by teenagers, raising a host of concerns about safety. Despite the developer’s good intentions, users are reporting that the app has become a breeding ground for cyberbullying and hate speech.

Bullying and cyberbullying continue to be pervasive issues that put immense pressure on communities across the U.S. In response, United Way teamed up with the NFL to create Character Playbook, a digital program that trains middle school students on how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships, make good decisions and step in when they see questionable activity.

But technology isn’t the problem or the solution. To keep today’s youth safe from harm, we need to better equip them with the knowledge they need to recognize cyberbullying for the problem it is and prevent it from happening in the first place. The Character Playbook curriculum was endorsed by experts in social and emotional learning, as well as relationship-building, and teaches youth how to:

Think more about what’s influencing them
Better understand and manage their emotions
Communicate effectively
Resolve conflicts
Step in to stop negative behavior
Make good decisions

Social and emotional learning is a teachable skill. Implemented at scale, it can change the narrative of a classroom, a school, a community. Together, the National Football League and United Way are working to ensure this tool is available to all schools free of charge. For more information, visit characterplaybook.com.