Change trends and decrease risks of potentially dangerous and harmful behaviors among youth.

Why youth campaigns?

Prevention of violence and promotion of healthy lifestyles of young people are an important part of the wider communication strategy of promoting and protecting the health of young people in almost every modern country. Regardless of whether it is about violence, the prevention of the use of psychoactive substances or the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, modern education systems combine formal and non-formal education with health campaigns, all in order to eliminate risk factors identified as important determinants of health. Campaigns not only have the power to influence risk factors, they can actually be a driving force, i.e. they can mobilize young people and adults to actively engage in the transformation of the environment in which they live or go to school, with the aim of achieving more comprehensive and complex health outcomes.

If in a particular school there is a critical mass of young people that perceive certain forms of violence (labelling, gossiping, teasing, etc.) as accepted behaviour that is not harmful to the exposed ones, the campaign should encourage the change of young people’s attitudes in a way that such forms of behaviour are exposed and recognized as harmful and actively opposed as unacceptable in their environment, school or wider community.

Over the years, Program Y has implemented more than 5000 different campaigns activities, in more than 130 communities all over the region, engaging more than 600.000 people, mostly youth. According to numerous research and evaluation findings, the participation in campaigns, exposure to campaigns and participation in workshops (combined approach) have contributed to improvements in attitudes and behaviour of young men and women in different spheres of their lives.

Most important campaigns that we have implemented are:

Campaign: Be a Man

Recognized by many as one of the best campaigns against violence in the Balkans nowadays, it is important to say that it evolved from a phrase frequently used in the Balkan region: “Be a Man”. If from this region, you probably can easily remember when you last heard it.

To be a man in the Balkans, a young men in particular, is not easy. Girls are not having it any easier either since we still live in patriarchal societies with prevailing rigid traditional norms.

Most likely, last time you have heard the expression “Be a man” it was in a negative context like, “Be a man, show that you are a real man, kick him”, “Why do you cry, you are a man”, “Should woman tell you how to behave, come on, be a man”, or something like “What kind of a man you are, men are strong, not such wimps, be a man”, “Who is the man in this house, be a real man”. Try to imagine how can such phrases affect young men in their formative years, but also young women who are largely directly influenced by the weight of these phrases and actions that derive from them.

It is because of these negative perceptions and related consequences that the YMI launched the “Be a Man” campaign back in 2008. The campaign was developed by Smart Kolektiv from Belgrade, which has the expertise in the field of developing social norms or socially engaged? campaigns. The campaign was developed in a participatory manner – with the active participation of young people from the region in all phases of the campaign development.

The overall theme of the Budi Muško campaign is to challenge rigid norms of masculinity. Sub themes include the prevention of violence against women, the prevention of peer violence (or bullying) and the promotion of sexual health and healthy relationships, many of the same topics addressed in the workshops. The campaign tone is provocative, but not preachy. It uses an attractive visual identity to get young men thinking about the benefits and “coolness” of engaging in more equitable and non-violent behaviors and lifestyles.

It was launched in secondary schools in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with the aim to:

  • Promote educational workshops in secondary schools;
  • Attract young people to participate in the program and:
  • Convey educational messages of the project to a larger number of young people in the region of the Western Balkans.

The campaign key messages are about changing negative attitudes of young people towards peer violence and violence in general as well as building young people’s life skills to promote healthier lifestyles.

The campaign was accompanied by various messages aimed at changing rules and encouraging young people to think in a completely different way. The slogans that were used, and that are still used today, are “Be a man – fall in love!”, “Be a man – build your brain!”, “Be a man – show your feelings!”, “Be a man against violence”, “Be a man – don’t be a bully!” and many others. Clear and interesting messaging was very important in challenging stereotypes that young people face along the.

Campaign: React as human

React as human campaign is a campaign focused on the observer intervention. The observer intervention is philosophy and strategy for the prevention of various forms of violence, including harassment, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence.

Who are the observers?

The observers are individuals who observe violence or witness the conditions that sustain violence. They are not directly involved but they have the ability to intervene, speak, or do something about it. They are someone who is present and thus potentially in a position to discourage, prevent or terminate the incident.

The observers are present/witnesses of violent situations – they are friends of the victim and/or perpetrator, other students, team members, neighbours, etc. The observers are the “audience” – bullies often use their victims and violent situation to show their strength and superiority in the group. Therefore, the peer violence usually happens before the audience – live or on the internet (offline or online).

How the observers react?

Most of them do not do anything. They passively accept bullying, watching and doing nothing. They are the audience of the bully and silent acceptance that allows the bully to continue with the abusive behaviour. They feel powerless to do anything in fear that they also could become victims.

Some of them support bullies – they encourage bullying by laughing, cheering or making comments. Some of them join the bullying. They want to maintain their position in the hierarchy of the group and to be on the winning side. They do not like or support violence and feel bad about their behaviour.

Some play a key role in preventing or stopping harassment – they directly intervene by distracting the bully, calling for help or helping the victim. They are primarily driven by a sense of responsibility to do something.

Slogan and campaign messages

The main slogan or title of the campaign is REACT AS HUMAN.

Invite the observers to react – to stand up, to speak, to do something. With this invitation we would like to invite and motivate observers to react the way every human being would react, and that is to help someone. We want to refer to the basic and universal human values of respect, safety, love, justice, equality and life itself. We are all human, regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality or sexuality.

Some of the slogans/messages we use are:

React as human …

  • … speak up
  • … help the victim
  • … stand up
  • … against violence
  • … asks for help
  • … deter the bully

By adding advice and ideas to what you can do in a given situation into the main slogan, we want to encourage and empower observers to play a key role in preventing or stopping harassment, and that is to directly intervene and not to endanger themselves in doing so, which is also very important.

Through the campaign we want to:

  1. Raise awareness that non-reacting is the way of approval of violence, by inviting the observers to react!
  2. Motivate observers to take a more active role in the fight against violence, by motivating the observers to react!
  3. Educate young people to recognize the violence and raise awareness of the different forms of violence!
  4. Give young people advice on how to react in a given situation, to strengthen them and encourage them to react!

React as human campaign is implemented within the Young Men Initiative of the Care International Balkans, in the countries of the North-western Balkans through the activities of the partner “Be a man” clubs since 2015.

Campaign: PaziSex (Watch out! Sex)

“Watch out! Sex” campaign (PaziSex and KujdeSex in local languages) and web sites (you can find them below) have been developed with the aim to provide young people an attractive and friendly educational material, where they can find important information about sexuality, sexual development and orientation, first sexual experience, various forms of peer pressure, contraception, STI, etc.

Web site and campaign are divided into five sections, which represent different stages in the sexual development of teenagers. Each section opens one after another, which allows us to put each of the topics in a separate focus.

Aims of the campaign, target groups and messages

Who is our target group:

All – young people, parents, professors, social and youth workers.

What is our message:

Education on the topic of sexual and reproductive health is very important.

What do we want to achieve:

  1. To inform students about the website
  2. To inform students about the main purpose of this website
  3. To raise awareness of the importance of education in the field of sexual and reproductive health among young people
TARGET GROUPMESSAGES – what do we want to say
Young people aged 14-19 yearsIt is important to be informed about sexual health
All this is normal – it is normal to have a lot of questions, it is normal that all the changes on your body happen, puberty is normal…
Think with your own head
Parents, professors and youth workersEducation on sexual and reproductive health is important
There are not many places where young people can be informed is a useful tool that can help you in your work
OBroader publicIt is very disappointing that education on this topic is not systematically addressed
Education on sexual and reproductive health is important
That is why we created a website that is adapted to young people and in one place offers all the answers that they may require

Campaign: Are you OK

Campaign Are you OK is new campaign made by young people for young people primarily focused on two specific topics of Mental Health (dealing with lack of confidence, depression, withdrawing in yourself, asocial behaviour, aggression, nervousness etc.) and Cyber violence (what is teasing and what is bullying, preventing insults through hate comments, posting embarrassing photos of videos of someone to create wrong images of them, making fake profiles for bullying etc).

The goal of the campaign is to promote prosocial behaviour among young people in high schools (age 14 to 19 years old) in order to transform culture inside schools and make them as a supportive environment for all young people. Through this campaign young people are working on to encourage other young people to make reactions when they notice that someone is in problem or in risk. To make this happen young people need to:

  • recognize when someone is in the problem or in risk
  • encourage young people to provide advice to their friend
  • encourage young people to seek support and advise them where to seek for support

This campaign is highly intersected with React as human campaign with difference that this campaign is primarily focused on mental health and cyber violence and strives to encourage observers, but not burden them with new responsibilities or create large “cargo” on their backs.

This campaign is also learning young people where to seek for support, like friends, Be a Man Clubs, family, internet, school staff (psychologist and main teacher), youth organizations etc.

Our communication strategy is:

  • To speak about cyber violence from perspective of mental health.
  • To promote pro-social behaviour as desirable behaviour among target group.
  • Through a set of desirable behaviour, to promote the right values related to friendship, trust, and support.
  • Discuss mental health and cyber violence issues transparently with the emphasis that problems are something that can happen to everyone and that problems will pass.
  • Communication tone should be optimistic, well intentioned, relaxed, friendly.

Are you OK campaign is implemented within the Young Men Initiative of the Care International Balkans, in the countries of the North-western Balkans through the activities of the partner “Be a Man” clubs since 2018.

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