North Carolina students attend workshop to curb bullying, school violence

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- It's National Youth Violence Prevention Week, and a summit organized by a Raleigh-based advocacy group brought dozens of students to North Carolina State's McKimmon Center for some important life lessons Saturday.

The National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) brought together young people from eight states, including North Carolina, to discuss ways of fostering safer schools.

Among the students was Rhiannon Potwin, a high school senior from Fayetteville who was bullied in middle school.

"When you're bullied, go to a teacher. But then when you go to a teacher you're called a snitch. And there's the saying 'snitches get stitches.'"

Still, she spoke with a trusted adult.

"I went to our assistant principal who was in charge of eighth grade, and the kids were saying, 'you're snitching, you're trying to get these people in trouble,'" Rhiannon said. "And I said 'no, I'm trying to defend myself!'"

That's important for students and parents to understand, according to organizers.

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Former Durham police officer BJ Council participated in a vital workshop for the teens.

"Cyberbullying, it's so easy now, with social internet, that you can bully individuals and not be in front of them," Council said. "Back when I was young, the bully was standing in front of me. Now, they're doing it through Twitter and social media."

Sometimes, allegations of bullying lead to violent confrontations like the one caught on camera inside Wake Forest High School.

That student told authorities he was reacting to verbal abuse from another student.

READ MORE: Wake Forest student says he couldn't take it anymore

But before a situation turns that ugly, a guidance counselor has advice for her students and others.

"As a school counselor I tell my students, 'let me be your advocate,"' said guidance counselor Ashley Wilson. "If you let me know, I'll take whatever steps I need."

She said it's important to confide in a trusted adult.

"Someone who they know respects them, appreciates them, is not judgmental of them, who they know that they can rely on," Wilson said.

Anytime a bully threatens physical harm, experts said, don't be afraid to let people who are sworn to protect you know.

"Officers are there to help them and so hopefully, they'll be able to understand their problem," said Council. "No matter what they've seen across the country, officers are there to help them."

There will be more activities for young people during National Youth Violence Prevention Week:

Monday, April 3: Promote Respect and Tolerance
Tuesday, April 4: Manage Your Anger, Don't Let It Manage You
Wednesday, April 5: Resolve Conflicts Peacefully
Thursday, April 6: Support Safety
Friday, April 7: Unite in Action

For more information about these events visit SAVE's website.

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