By: Leah Uko
OMAHA (KPTM) – For years roller-skating has managed to stay popular amongst kids and teenagers. Before that fun began Friday night, there was a discussion about bullying—something also common in their age group.
"I don't get why they do it because no one has the right to go up and say ‘hey um you don't look like me [or] you don't have brown eyes, so you can't be over this area," Fischer said.
By the time she was 7 years old, Ava Fischer said she witnessed and experienced bullying. She recalled a time when another student in her class picked on her for choosing to wear boys' tennis shoes.
"It's not just hurting them on the outside it's hurting them on the inside."
Ava joined a group of nearly a hundred kids and teens at Skate Daze for an anti-bullying rally.
Owner, Scott Sernick figured hosting the "Erase Hate & Skate" would be best at a place where many young people hang out.
"It's a problem in the schools, the communities and we'd thought we'd do something about it since our business is in big contact with kids," he said.
Andersen Middle School students Aleaya Korn and Natalie Oliva said bullying at their school once escalated to a student causing harm to himself.
"There was this one rumor spreading around and then this kid started cutting himself in first period," Korn said. "I felt bad for him and I hope the people spreading the rumors felt bad too."
7th grader Grace Flogstad said she wants students to understand how joking with peoples' feelings is a serious matter.
"If you're getting picked on at school, you shouldn't have to feel like killing yourself is the only way to solve that. Because that's not going to help," she said.
There were times, students said, when they did make an effort to interfere and stand up for victims.
Officer Joel Strominger with the Omaha Police Department Crime Prevention Unit spoke to the group about what to do if they witness bullying.
"Walk away and tell an adult. It doesn't matter what adult we tell. If it happens at school obviously we'd like to go to our teachers, counselors or principals," he continued. "In the circumstance that you're being bullied on your phone or on the Internet at home, your parents should be the first place you'd go."
Oliva understood that advice for victims. She added her message for the people doing the bullying.
"[Don't] be a follower of bullying, but be a leader of not bullying—like maybe make your own group."
So when kids like Ava get older—the word "bullying" will be history—instead of a daunting distraction in class.
To learn how to recognize bullies and their behavior, and how to deal with conflict and bullying behavior call the Crime Prevention Unit's Speakers' Bureau at (402) 444-5772.
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