Over the last few years, several high profile incidents of bullying and harassment have occurred in Nebraska schools and during high school sports games. Today state education leaders stood in solidarity to eliminate that behavior in schools.
"Our student population is going to look different over the next 30-40 years, we will be a majority-minority state in our student population in that time frame. We have to be thoughtful about what we're preparing our students for, our culture for, our future for," says Matt Blomstedt, State Board of Education commissioner.
State Board of Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt, along with around a dozen education leaders, came together to sign a statement saying bullying and harassment is not a legal issue, but a human dignity issue and saying in the statement "These are basic human rights that men and women have fought and died for under our flag, and this basic tenet must also be communicated to the community as a whole."
"We live in a day and age where it seems like saying negative things about people is an okay activity and we're here to say it's not tolerated and should not be tolerated, " says Michael Delaney, executive director, Nebraska Council of School Administrators.
One place where harassment has been a big issue is on the playing field. In 2010 green cards were thrown on the field during the state title soccer game featuring predominantly Hispanic Omaha South. Schuyler administrators have also complained about their student athletes being harassed on the field.
"When it becomes about personal characteristics about race or anything else, those feel like even more difficult situations to handle, what we want to do is provide some models that would help them do that all the better," says Blomstedt.
A similar effort has already started in the metro as area schools have embraced the #bekind effort that began in Ralston schools. Blomstedt wants it to be a statewide effort.
"Those didn't come from the Department of Education down to them, it didn't come from law, it comes from the notion that it's really needed in schools that students need language to understand how to treat one another," says Blomstedt.
Blomstedt also says that in the past the state has dealt with these issues case by case, now they hoping to tackle the issue as a whole.