Cipta is a 15-year-old girl with remarkable powers. A talented artist, she has a knack for bringing her creations to life, literally – turning her drawings into objects she uses to help fight bullying.
The character was the winning entry in a UNICEF competition that challenged young people around the world to create a superhero to raise awareness of bullying and violence in schools.
Rizka Raisa Fatimah Ramli, an 18-year-old artist from Makassar, Indonesia, beat thousands of other young people to win the School Superhero Comic Contest, garnering 23,000 votes in the process.
Her prize was to work with a professional team to produce her comic book, receiving mentoring from world-famous Brazilian comic artist Gabriel Picolo.
Rizka’s comic has now been published and presented to world leaders at the UN. It will be distributed to 100,000 schools worldwide.
A global issue
Bullying is a problem in classrooms around the world. Half of all students between the ages of 13 and 15 have experienced it, according to UNICEF.
Other dangers that schoolchildren can face include pressure to join gangs, sexual harassment and even armed violence. And 720 million school-age children live in countries where corporal punishment is still allowed in schools.
The importance of protecting children from bullying and violence and the resulting mental harm is underlined by a UK government report that says three-quarters of adult mental health problems begin before the age of 18.
And a US government study found evidence that children exposed to frequent, persistent bullying have higher rates of psychiatric disorders. Exposure to bullying is also associated with higher rates of anxiety, depression and self-harm in adulthood.
Have you read?
The School Superhero Comic Contest was part of a UNICEF campaign to end violence in schools. Education is key to building peaceful societies, the charity says. But for many children around the world, school isn’t safe.
The campaign is calling for action through changes to legislation and better investment in solutions. It also wants to unite young people to speak out about the problem.
“Based on my own experience and what I know and hear from my friends, violence in schools in my community is a serious problem,” Rizka says.
“School is supposed to be a place where violence doesn’t exist. My hope for the future of our world is that everyone becomes more tolerant of each other.”