At first glance, it might seem like a token effort toward fighting a big problem.
Michaela Vick designed a poster aimed at discouraging bullying among students. The poster shows a girl crying because she has been bullied. Next to her is the image of a group of her friends offering support. The poster also shows the words “Stand up to bullying.’’
Michaela, 13, an eighth-grader at Whittier Middle School, entered her poster into an anti-bullying contest open to Merrimack Valley students and took first place. She told reporter Alex Lippa she was motivated to enter the contest because she has been bullied in the past. (See story Page 1.)
Michaela knows the pain felt by victims of bullies and wants to do her part to make it stop. Because she is an aspiring artist, she decided the poster contest was the best way to convey her message that bullying is wrong and every student is beautiful in their own way. They may not be the best looking, but they can find other ways to shine — through art work, academic accomplishments, sports, charitable work, even through a simple act of kindness toward another student.
“I made this drawing to say how bullying can hurt people, but we can all change it,” Michaela told the Gazette.
Many of us know the pain that comes from bullying. In the days before cell phones and other electronic devices, bullying would consist of kids in a hallway snickering at another student, maybe passing insulting notes. Sometimes a child would be picked on after school, pushed around and even beaten up.
They were all painful experiences, both emotionally and physically.
Bullying can hurt students’ emotions more today than in the past. Through cell phones and other devices, attackers can reach more than just a handful of classmates in the school hallway. Gossip becomes accepted as fact by dozens, even hundreds of students who receive a nasty email or other electronic message.