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Bullies’ Taunts Get A 2nd Airing
by Natalie Villacorta | Aug 2, 2012 2:04 pm
Posted to: Media
In middle school, Yasani Spencer wanted a hug from a boy she had a crush on.
“I’m not giving that fat hippopotamus a hug,” he responded.
Spencer had been bullied since kindergarten about her weight and the hair on her body. She was called “lasagna face” and “sasquatch.” Her mother had always told her to ignore the bullies and that she was beautiful no matter what.
But as she got older, “it really hit me home,” said Spencer, now a high school senior.
She started to wear bigger clothes to hide her body. She shaved all that hair off her arms, legs, and back.
She didn’t want to be the person who was picked on. So she started throwing up after meals, counting calories, and exercising three times a day.
“I still feel like that fatty little kid that was picked on,” she said. But she is moving past her bulimia.
“It gets better” is the message she and several other high school students wanted to send in “Misunderstood With Nowhere To Turn,” a new video they’ve produced during Youth Rights Media‘s six-week Summer Institute.
A crowd gathered in the Dixwell-Yale Community Learning Center Wednesday night to watch Spencer’s videos and three others dealing with issues facing young people in New Haven. The teens also led discussions about the subjects raised by their videos.
Youth Rights aims to teach youth how to use media “to effect change within themselves and in their communities,” said Janis Astor del Valle, the group’s executive director.
The 25 students from high schools across New Haven tackled the absence of fathers, the acceptance of the LBGTQ community, and teenage pregnancy in addition to bullying in their four-to-five-minute videos.
In the video on bullying, students, including Spencer, held up signs to the camera with the names they had been called by bullies. “Blackey,” “anorexic,” and “oreo” were among the taunts.
The film ended with the message: “Bullying hurts, don’t be a bystander.” Spencer and her peers said that not enough is done to stop bullying in area schools. She said administrators at her school would see her be bullied and do nothing.
The adults in the bullying discussion asked what they can do to help the students spread their message. An audience member suggested that efforts should not just focus on the victims and ignore the bullies themselves.
“There’s something that’s causing the bully to be so cruel,” Spencer said.
In another conversation, teens and adults discussed absent fathers after watching the video “Be A Baby’s Father, Not A Baby Daddy.” In the film, several teens discussed their personal experiences of growing up with an absent father.
Harry Kelly, a junior at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, was raised by his mother. He said in the film that he missed that “special something” a child gets from having an adult male figure in his life. He hopes that the men in the audience were inspired to give their kids a call to say, “I miss you.”