By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer
Nineteen-year-old Trenton Lewis wants to change the message hip-hop music is sending to kids across the country.
The Kokomo High School graduate envisions songs that inspire change and songs that promote safer schools instead of ones that glorify drugs and violence. He wants to push the negativity out of music.
“That’s the way it should be,” he said.
Lewis and his music group Squad Gang have joined the “Bully Basher” anti-bullying music tour.
The movement was started in March by Indianapolis deejay Oliver Jackson and MTV JAMZ artist and Kokomo man kCAne MarkCO.
The group has plans to play in schools throughout the country and in as many Indiana schools as possible. Their goal is to end bullying one song and story at a time.
“I feel like we can stop it,” Lewis said. “We can touch these people with our messages.”
He said everyone remembers a time when they were picked on in school. Everyone has a story.
MarkCO was bullied as a child. When he got sick of it, he decided to learn how to box.
He gained strength and confidence and went from victim to advocate. He stood up for other kids who were picked on like him.
He tried to resolve the issues peacefully by telling the bullies to go away. But when that didn’t work, he used his fists.
That’s how he earned the nickname “bully basher.”
Lewis said violence isn’t the answer, though.
He’s a mixed martial arts fighter, but he wants to show kids they can solve their problems in a different way.
Children need to speak out to end bullying, he said. The victims need to tell their stories and the bystanders need to tell someone about the bullying they saw, he said.
He wants to show the bullies that bullying isn’t cool anymore.
Lewis said he’s tired of hearing about kids who suffered so much at the hands of bullies that they decided suicide was the only option.
“The bullying has been getting worse,” he said. “It’s gotten to the extreme. It’s mayhem.”
MarkCO said he found out that 14 percent of bullying victims commit suicide. He couldn’t believe it, he said. Even 1 percent is too high.
“They literally take their lives because they can’t take it anymore,” he said. “How can you stand by when this is happening?”
MarkCO said their anti-bullying program is two hours of music and messages about respecting others.
The idea is that kids will be able to relate to the message because it’s delivered through the kind of music they listen to every day.
“We’re using our voices to reach them,” he said. “Music controls a lot of people.”
Lewis just hopes he grabs children’s attention long enough to get an important message across.
“I would love to help these kids stand up to bullying,” he said.
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