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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Tatiana Kelly stood shyly next to her older sister and a friend at a peace rally Sunday.

The 13-year-old said she was bullied for about a year at a private school in Gainesville.

“It was depressing,” she said. “I don’t want other people to go through (what I did),” Kelly said, her voice fading and eyes staring at the ground.

More than 100 people and several peace organizations came together at the March & Rally for Peace at about 5 p.m. to raise awareness on bullying within the community.

The event kicked off with a downtown march starting at the Hippodrome State Theater. Musical guests performed at the event, which was hosted by the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding. Bears & Lions led the march, chanting “Peace, love, more compassion.”

The band, dressed in bear and lion costumes, was mostly popular with young participants, while Be More Heroic, Joie Kathos and Dani Shay’s music appealed to teenagers and young adults with deeper messages.

Rachel Wayne, 28, held a sign that read “Words Do Hurt Me.”

“People say, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but words do hurt, said Wayne, a UF anthropology student who was a victim of bullying and domestic abuse.

She wore clothes with words like “crazy” and “nerd” sewn on them. Wayne said her outfit represented the abusive things her ex-boyfriend and others called her. When she took the clothes off later, Wayne said it would be a symbolic way of saying they no longer define her.

While most people at the rally believed bullying is bad, Richard Welch felt differently.

“I think bullying is a good thing,” said Welch, a 19-year-old dual-enrollment engineering student at Santa Fe College, adding that he believes bullying in moderation can build character and help victims grow up more quickly.

“Some people overreact to bullying,” he said. And when it comes to cyberbullying, he said, “just turn off the computer and go outside and play.”

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[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 10/3/2014]

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