Johnson Hansen said he knows what it’s like to be bullied.
He even has a few friends who have been cyber-bullied.
Johnson, a 10th-grade student at Garner Magnet High, said a few of his close friends and former classmates who were cyber-bullied while in school are now being home-schooled. They received text messages, that said “Just go kill yourself,” or “You’re so ugly.”
So when he creates videos about anti-bullying, he makes sure he puts his best effort into it.
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“I feel like cyber-bullying is just in a lot of places now,” Johnson said. “And a lot of people don’t think they’re doing anything (bad), but they really are.”
Johnson and a few of his classmates won the Wake County Schools’ Bullying Prevention Video Contest for an anti-bullying video he directed.
Johnson, 16, served as the writer and director of the video.
Johnson worked with a group of seven other students who served as the actors and helped him create the film. He said it took at least 20 hours to shoot and edit the video.
In the video, a life-like computer named “Cyber-Bully 2000” walks into the school’s cafeteria and bullies each student by knocking down their lunch trays, tapping their heads and saying mean things about them. After a while a bigger computer stands up to the bully computer and shuts it down to prevent it from bullying anyone else.
The message: cyber-bullying is not cool. Pull the plug. Stand up and speak out.
Johnson said he wanted to take a lighter approach to this video as opposed to other anti-bullying videos, where the victim tends to commit suicide at the end.
“That hits strong and brings the message across but we wanted for our videos to be more upbeat, and more like “We can do this. We’re in this together, happy kind of videos,” Johnson said. “So we wanted the villain or Cyber-Bully to be mean but at the same time laughable so it was easier to inspire people to stand up to the bully instead of depress them.”
He said the reception to the video has been great. He posted the video to his social media accounts, and it was shared by many people.
“They go crazy and that’s what I love,” Johnson said of his classmates who have seen the video. “The actors trusted me as a director to tell them what to do and then when they see it, they feel proud of themselves, and we feel proud as a team together. We’re promoting a good cause. I really do it just to show: ‘Look at what we can do.’”
Johnson spent time after school each day to work on the video and received advice from his teacher Jason Boyette.
“For him to start the project on his own especially last year and this year, that just takes a lot of dedication outside of school, and teaching himself, trying and failing, experimenting and figuring whether this works or doesn’t,” Boyette said.
Cecil Coats, the senior administrator of counseling and student services, said this was the second year for the video contest. Johnson and his classmates also won last year for a video they created. Students at each school level create a video based on the district’s anti-bullying theme.
The video is based on several criteria, Coats said, including creativity, the message content and whether they support the contest’s theme.
Coats said their video won because it had each characteristic and the message was delivered.
“It was creative using a person as a computer to let students know cyber-bullying is prevalent and here are things they can do to prevent cyber-bullying in schools,” Coats said.
A winning video is recognized at the elementary, middle and high school level.
“We want students and staff to speak up against bullying and we want them to know bullying is not tolerated in our schools,” Coats said. “So we are going to do this competition every year.”
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Video contest winners
First place: Brentwood Elementary, Fuquay-Varina Middle, Garner High
Second place: Timber Drive Elementary, Holly Grove Middle, Millbrook High
Third place: Poe Magnet Elementary, East Cary Middle, Wakefield High
The winning video from Garner High