In a black-and-white photograph, a small girl sits alone, knees and head drawn into her chest.
“Bullying can happen at any age,” explained Veronica Gonzalez, 16. “Bullying can affect people in different ways. It can hurt some people deeply.”
The picture was part of an assignment in Brian Reedy’s photography class at Carson High School to draw attention to bullying.
Aubrey Alotta, 15, took a different a approach.
She posed her 10-year-old niece with her hands to the camera. Written on her palms it said, “Speak out.”
“I decided empowerment was a better thing to show rather than sadness or vulnerability,” she said. “People who are bullied need empowerment. They know what vulnerability and sadness look like. They need encouragement to stand up and speak out and get help.”
Reedy began the assignment weeks ago, presenting documentaries and news programs exposing different forms of bullying.
“I think it is a very important subject,” Reedy said. “It was a big revelation to them. They didn’t really understand that a lot of what they see, or maybe even do, is bullying.”
He then turned them loose with their cameras to capture images of bullying.
Cindie Escalante, 15, said she’d become accustomed to seeing friends exchange hateful text messages or vitriolic posts on social media sites. After watching the films, she said, she realized those things cross the line.
She photographed a phone displaying an angry text.
“A lot of teenagers are into social media and texting and technology,” she said. “It’s modern. It speaks to what’s happening today. People aren’t strong enough to say it face-to-face so they say it through texts and Facebook and those sorts of things.”
Elias Rubio challenged common beliefs.
Across his self-portrait he wrote, “They told me to be myself and ended up judging me in the end.”
Students will present their projects in class next week, then they will go on display in the high school’s library. Reedy said he wants to share them with Carson City middle and elementary schools as well.
“A lot of the students have a greater understanding of what bullying is, that words matter,” Reedy said. “That was a great teaching moment. I’m excited to see where this goes.”