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Bikers support bullied Omaha 5th grader; Parents say cafeteria worker cursed at son, withheld lunch

Cohen Crawford has alopecia, which causes his body to attack his hair follicles
Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 01, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Bikers joined Casey Crawford to show support to Crawford's son, Cohen, as he left Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School on Monday afternoon.

Christina Bellavia helped organize a show of support from motorcyclists from the metro area. They gave a clear message: "Bullying is not tolerated."

Cohen is bald; he has a condition that makes his body fight off hair follicles on his scalp. Cohen told 3 News Now he's always been bullied because of it.

"We just want to show him some love," Bellavia said, "and show the community that the biker community is a great community."

After Cohen walked out of the school in his "free hugs" T-shirt, he talked with the bikers, at one point revving the engine of one bike.

"It was surprising how many people were here and it made me feel happy," said the 5th grader.

Bellavia's attention came from a private Facebook post from Cohen's mom.

In it, she says, bullying hasn't only come from students. The parents say a cafeteria worker cursed at him.

"The person that mocked him told him that the reason he has no hair is that he got too much hot sauce," said Casey, Cohen's father.

He also says the cafeteria worker withheld lunch.

"We've prepared him to deal with kids," Casey said. "He's got a pretty good way with that with humor, to keep the kids at bay and to keep things on a steady course. But he's not necessarily equipped to deal with adults who treat him unfairly."

They also say as Cohen attempted to tell a counselor about the cafeteria worker and that counselor brushed him off.

But the Crawfords want to make clear: this is about more than Cohen.

After making the Facebook post, they say many in the community responded. They said they had their own issues with the school: with bullying, students berating teachers without punishment, and with problems with teachers and administration.

"What we want is a reaffirmation of how the school handles these types of situations," Casey said. They want "proactive" communication with parents and training of staff.

Casey said he spoke with Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Cheryl Logan on Tuesday afternoon. He said Logan told him they'd perform a "cultural audit" at the school.

OPS did not confirm a "cultural audit," but said they are working to respond to all concerns.

"Though we are limited in what we can share due to privacy concerns, we care deeply about our students," the district said in a statement. "Providing a supportive, caring environment for the young people we serve is always our priority."

Cohen is optimistic bullying could become a thing of the past.

That could happen if "people actually come together and realizing that it's better when we're sticking together and not going out and hurting people's feelings," Cohen said.

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