This profile was prepared when Emma-Jane Cross was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
For over a decade, Emma-Jane Cross has worked throughout the UK to transform the country’s endemic culture of bullying. Having designed highly effective peer-to-peer mentoring methodologies and rolled them out into thousands of schools through the organization BeatBullying, Emma-Jane began to realize the that way to have wider impact was to bring support services online where children feel most comfortable. She has now pioneered an intervention method called Socially Mediated Support which fuses both peer-to-peer and professional counseling online, to dramatically increase the capacity for entry-level support services to be accessed by young people in need, before their problems escalate. Recognizing her solution could present a step-change for fields far beyond bullying, Emma-Jane is now working to transform how youth services and mentoring are provided across the spectrum of child wellbeing, from mental health to career development to literacy. Emma-Jane set up BeatBullying, or “the BB Group,” to house a range of online communities that already connects some 40,000 children, trained volunteers and professionals for real-time, personalized mentoring. Their support platforms are easily accessible whenever young people may need them - in school yards, in their homes or late at night - 365 days a year. Emma-Jane’s online platform then matches children to appropriate mentors along an entire scale - from highly-trained young volunteers in their own peer group to professional psychologists - depending on risk level and a child’s personal preference, giving children a voice to determine what help they receive for the first time. The BB Group team also serves as a bridge to offline support, immediately referring the most serious cases to the police and emergency services. Where most online sites leave children’s safety highly exposed, the BB Group’s technology puts safeguarding first, creating the only social networking site to be endorsed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. By engaging extensive youth networks to be part of these solutions, Emma-Jane is not only providing effective treatment to the bullied, distressed and disadvantaged, but creating a youth-led movement for social action which can rise to face the scale of today’s challenges.
The New Idea