Beverly Hills community helps raise anti-bullying awareness through media



Dami Kim, culture editor

     Bullying, as a form of youth violence, once included situations in which a child would be physically harmed or verbally and psychologically attacked. However, as technology expanded over the years and the creation of social media took its effect on the younger generation, forms of bullying extended from school to the vast plains of the Internet.

     According to a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey in 2011, an estimated 16 percent of high school students reported that they had been “electronically bullied” within that year. In the 2009-2010 school year, a separate survey stated that 23 percent of public schools across the nation reported bullying among students on a daily or weekly basis.

     The nation’s awareness and efforts in preventing any forms of bullying also inspired the Beverly Hills community to take a stance against the issue, ironically, through the use of media. The Human Relations Commissions of Beverly Hills is currently hosting an anti-bullying PSA video competition among different age groups ranging from students in fourth grade to adults, provided that they are affiliated with Beverly Hills. According to the commission, the major goal of hosting the competition is to prevent further bullying in the community. The deadline for the competition is on May 15.
Prior to the competition’s deadline, the Beverly Hills Public Library aided students in filming the videos in support of the by providing two free film workshops on March 28 and April 18. According to the teen section’s librarian Monica Zepeda, students are able to check out an iPod Touch with a parent’s signature to use for filming as well as edit their  films with laptops at the library using programs such as iMovie.
“I think that the competition is an effective way to raise anti-bullying awareness because it gives kids a chance to voice their own experiences about bullying,” Zepeda said. “Creating a video that the whole city may see lets them know that their viewpoint is important.”
The fight against bullying continues at Beverly, where Peer Counselors promote the use of the NormanAid Center to help close the wounds of the victims of bullying. An informative video was uploaded to YouTube and shared on Facebook to be seen by the rest of the school.
“The [anti-bullying video] shows different kinds of bullying and ways that [a person] can do as a bystander…to help prevent bullying in a positive and effective way,” peer counselor senior Emily Wasserman said. “Many people don’t realize the extremes of bullying that can lead to drastic effects on kids’ [lives] at school and everywhere else.”
Peer counselor junior Daphne Levy emphasized the importance of spreading awareness of and solutions for bullying through broadcasted films.
“[Bullying] is really hurtful,” Levy said. “[Peer counselors] understand the stresses that come with high school and I want to make sure people know that they are not alone, no matter what they are going through.”
The Student Body Action Committee (SBAC) also joined in the march to stamp out bullies at school. According to SBAC chairman senior Benjamin Hannani, SBAC has been pitching potential story ideas to film second semester. The process of filming and editing videos began last week and SBAC is expected to post their first of the series of anti-bullying videos soon.
“Media can definitely help raise anti-bullying awareness because we’re always going to be influenced by what surrounds us,” Hannani said. “When you see a character being bullied on your favorite show or your favorite athlete tweets about how terrible bullying is, those moments will likely resonate with you. It’s easy to daydream during an anti-bullying assembly, but we have no choice but to listen to a cause when it’s in our Facebook feed or featured in a commercial.”
Hannani noticed the significantly decreased incidents of physical violence in the last four years of his high school career, but estimated that examples of cyber-bullying have emerged recently.
“As a senior, I’ve seen significantly fewer instances of physical bullying since I was a freshman,” Hannani said. “However, cyber-bullying has evolved into a major problem. I think the way to way to put an end to cyber-bullying is not only to console victims, but also to monitor ourselves. If [cyber] bullies find their comments [online] not sparking a reaction, they will stop.”
With hopes of effectively increasing community involvement in the battle against bullies, the city plans to continue its use of media to spread anti-bullying awareness.