Forget sticks and stones: students take an EPIC approach to combat bullying

Did you know…

Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.

71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.

90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying.

1 out of 10 students drop out of school because repeated bullying.

And over two-thirds of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage of students believing that adult help is infrequent and ineffective (source).

These alarming numbers suggest that for many students within the US, dealing with school bullying isn’t just a temporary inconvenience – it’s a daily struggle. Often left unnoticed or overlooked by parents, teachers, and peers, many students feel as if they have nowhere to turn for help. Determined not to become a statistic, Janeen Kern’s visual arts class at EPIC Academy decided to fight back, and on December 10th presented a strong anti-bullying message in the form of an art exhibition. The high schoolers showcased contemporary art that they had created during Janeen’s residency as well as live art to reflect different perspectives on bullying and how it has impacted them personally. What they came up with was not only creative and interactive, but undeniably inspiring and powerful in taking a strong stance against bullying at their school.

To illustrate their views, students completed live sketches as well as live splatter art and glitter art (as seen in the video below). Janeen then asked the students to share their own personal experiences with bullying and opened the floor for a Q+A on how to handle it and how to discuss it with adults. Following their questions, one outstanding student from each grade level was presented with a “Stand Up, Stand Out” award; these honorees were selected by their peers and EPIC staff for being students who emphasize camaraderie and standing up against bullying in their everyday lives. To end the show, Janeen asked that everyone take a Post-it note and write down a positive word to describe a person they know who has been bullied (examples: beautiful, kind, brave, etc). All Post-its were then placed on a large art piece, creating a beacon of encouragement and a reminder to victims that the words of one bully do not define who they are.

View the photo set below to see Janeen and her students’ inspiring work for yourself!

And be sure to check out the YouTube video for highlights from the exhibition:

How do YOU believe schools can better address the increasing prevalence of bullying? Tell us in the comment section below!

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