Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, innovators, and hope for the future. While some children shine in these areas, others don’t, because they are struggling to survive poverty, abuse, neglect, and families in crisis.
Regardless of a person’s background, race, or religion, Boys Town believes that everyone deserves the chance to reach their full potential. The Boys Town mission has expanded to include in-home family counseling, health care and programs to rebuild at-risk schools. It is an organization that has been around for more than 100 years and their services touch the lives of more than 2 million people each year.
Results from the latest Youth Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System show that in a recent year 19% of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide and 9% attempted suicide.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the teen suicide rate in the U.S. has skyrocketed in recent years.
Suicide was recently ranked as the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. Each year, about 7 out of 100,000 young adults between the ages of 15 and 19 die by suicide each year — and that number is growing.
The good news is that experts say teen suicide is preventable, but prevention efforts should be aimed at all levels of influence: individual, relationship, community and societal.
For 30 years, the Boys Town National Hotline® has been answering the call when children and parents need immediate, professional, and compassionate assistance, answering 150,000 calls, emails, texts, and chats a year. One of the most important Boys Town services, is a 24/7 crisis hotline for kids that can be viewed at Boys Town National Hotline.
“Unfortunately, even with the many young lives we save and change, there are still far too many boys and girls who could benefit from our help but don’t know how to find it,” observes Ginny Gohr, Director of the Boys Town National Hotline. “Via our public service announcements (PSAs) and other marketing tactics we are trying to increase awareness among those youth and their families who need the unique assistance our services provide,” she said.
“PSAs are a particularly important part of our marketing efforts,” Ms. Gohr went on to say, “because we can tailor our messages to either young people, parents, educators, or all of them, using both TV and radio media.”
In one of Boys Town’s latest TV PSAs titled: “Dreams” we see a young woman who encounters positive motivational messages – on social media, in class, and ultimately from a commencement speaker. She confides that she had trouble processing these messages while feeling so gloomy because for teens experiencing depression these motivational messages only make their depression worse.
However, through her friends, she finds supportive, inspiring stories of teens who work through their depression and comes to believe that she can achieve her dreams – starting with simply finding herself again. She urges confused teens to take the first step by going to the website www.YourLifeYourVoice.org.
According to Ms. Gohr, love and respect are at the core of Boys Town’s parenting strategy and other PSAs which include:
“Point/Counterpoint” is inspired by the notion that every “story” has two sides. We hear a depressed teen’s thoughts before learning she’s found the strength to recover her former level of enthusiasm for life. As we all navigate this new normal, Boys Town produced a TV PSA entitled: “Our Time Together” to let parents know we are here to listen no matter the need.
Teenagers spend a lot of time on social media, talking to friends, posting pictures, and expressing their opinions. The TV PSA titled: “Phony Posts” discusses how parents need to model positive online behavior and talk with their kids about it. In the PSA “More Ways to Praise,” we see several situations of parents praising their kids – on a napkin in their lunch box, sign language, a sign at a volleyball game and memes. It doesn’t matter how a parent praises their child, just that they do it often.
The PSA “One In Five,” addresses teen depression and ways to overcome this common affliction. The campaign entitled “Parenting Isn’t Easy” features TV host, Josh Temple, interacting with kids. The result is a humorous insight into the mind of a child encouraging parents to visit the parenting section of their website.
The TV PSA titled: “Me” is inspired by the idea that every person has the strength within them to overcome life’s challenges which includes scenes with a teen sitting alone at lunch, ignored by her peers and feeling overwhelmed with life. The teen finds someone to “show her the first step…” which is to visit www.YourLifeYourVoice.com – a support website from Boys Town. All PSAs can be viewed and downloaded on the PSA Digital website.
In the past four years, the TV PSAs distributed by Boys Town have generated hundreds of thousands of plays (number of times the spots ran at no cost on stations around the country) and tens of millions of dollars’ worth of exposure value in donated media.