It Starts with You

By Aimee Bozoudes

The Roar (Leander, Texas)

A bully is a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. This definition has been the basis for the typical bully we see on screen, in books and in the minds of bystanders. Bullies use phrases such as: ‘It was just a joke,’ ‘don’t take it so seriously,’ and ‘get over it,’ and have led some teenagers to physical and mental self-abuse from the actions and words of others who were ‘just kidding.’

October is National Bullying Prevention month, and the IB art students created an interactive mural to share a bit of positivity and self-awareness about the issue.

“The purpose was to establish an understanding of bullying,” junior IB art student Sydney Donovan said. “I think when people hear about bullying they kind of just depict it as ‘just shoving someone into a locker’ and there’s all these different types of bullying that nobody really pays attention to and it happens a lot more often than people think. Even just statements like: ‘Wow, she gained so much weight over the summer’ or something like that can really hurt someone, so we’re really trying to depict that words can be really hurtful.”

The IB art students spent the first six weeks creating the mural and PALs and other art students helped them convey positive messages such as: ‘You are worth so much more than you imagine,’ ‘there is no other you, so be you, and make you great,’ ‘you’ve got a brain in your head and feet in your shoes, you can go in any direction you choose,’ ‘don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going,’ ‘you are beautiful,’ and ‘stay strong.’ They have also made #itstartswithyoulhs and a submission box in the middle of the mural. 

Note cards on the anti-bullying mural. All across the mural are note cards with positive messages.

“I think it’s really cool that you can go [look at it] and may have negative feelings reading this stuff and then you can leave with something positive,” junior IB Art student Alyse Balderrama said. “We have an admission box where you can write about a time you were bullied or positive statements so I think it could make people reflect and maybe realize that they have said some of the stuff that’s on the wall and they may not think it’s bullying, but it is.”

The admissions box for the anti-bullying mural. Students can write about a time where they were bullied and submit it into the box.

When she was approached about creating something to bring awareness to this issue, IB art teacher Mrs. Chelsea (Klein) Cason recalled a 4th grade elementary class that created something similar and she presented the idea to her 6 students, who then incorporated their ideas until the mural was finished.

“I hear a lot of students, my own students, students in the hall,” Mrs. Cason said. “I hear adults bullying each other and comments maybe some people are meaning them as joking but they come off as just bullying. I feel that it really does start with one or two people. If one person makes a change I feel like that could lead to a domino effect basically. Everybody can kind of start making changes. If one person makes a change, if another person takes it upon themselves to make a change, eventually it would spread across the campus.”

Although bullying has always been a topic in schools and each year students see a presentation about what it is, how to help others and where to seek help, this is a new approach to bring more awareness on a large scale.

A part of the IB art mural that says "It Starts with You". This part of the mural is reflective.

“I know so many people who have been through bullying and because of it they’ve been through depression and stages of wanting to hurt themselves and that’s probably one of the worst things that I can imagine for some people,” senior Taylor Cameron said. “It’s awful that we’ve gotten to that point where people want to cause harm to themselves because bullying has become so extreme and that sounds a little extreme, but it’s sad because that’s where we’re at now. I think promoting anti-bullying is great especially through art and music because it speaks to us as teenagers a lot more than a teacher could or someone lecturing us could.”

Photo Credit: Jack Densmore

 

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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