The Australian government recently launched a campaign called The Line, designed to educate young people about healthy romantic relationships and the role that technology can play in bullying and abuse.
The campaign makes it clear that though some things are illegal clearly “over the line,” like violence, rape and abuse, other lines are blurry and need to be defined by individuals:
So whilst everyone agrees that violence is crossing the line, sometimes the line can be blurry. With things like with bagging someone out to your mates, or texting someone 300 times a day. At the end of the day, where you draw the line is up to you.
The campaign is a series of print and radio ads that discuss different ways of crossing a person’s individual line, from posting compromising photos online to physical interpersonal violence.
There’s also this one, aimed at parents of young people, which asks, “My son calls girls skanks. Is that crossing it?” and this one, in which a father worries that his daughter’s ex-boyfriend is crossing the line into stalking territory.
The campaign’s website also provides answers to FAQs about abusive relationships and the number for a 24-hour advice hotline. Pretty damn awesome.
The Line campaign was recommended in the Australian National Council’s Plan to reduce violence against Women and Children, and was launched by the Minister for The Status of Women in June of this year.
What I love about this campaign is that it stresses ambiguity, and the lack of a clear “line” in many cases. While it notes that there are some things “that always work, like loving and respecting each other, being considerate, listening, and trying to understand the other person’s point of view,” I’m glad that this campaign is tackling not just the problem of lines being crossed, but also the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all line.
The question of “does that cross it?” is one that everyone has to ask themselves, and often the answer will change from moment to moment and from week to week. Similarly, when we’re engaging in behavior that involves another person, we need to ask ourselves if their line is drawn differently than ours. When it comes to privacy, to sex and to interpersonal relationships, it’s important that young people and teens get the message that if something doesn’t feel right for them, then that’s a feeling they shouldn’t ignore. Whether or not someone else’s behavior makes you uncomfortable is a deeply personal, deeply subjective matter. I’m happy to see that the campaign endorses the idea that if something makes you feel like your line has been crossed, that’s a totally valid feeling, and you shouldn’t need to justify it to anyone else, or worry that your line isn’t the same as someone else’s. Encouraging young people to identify and honor their feelings and their limits is really important, and very difficult to do with a mainstream, public campaign.
You can also listen to The Line radio ads here.