Special Report: Bullied
You hear so much about bullying and the affect it has on young people growing up. But it's a problem that can stay with someone well after they get out of grade school.
For Blake Bailey, the memories are still fresh. Almost 20 years after graduating she can still remember her bully.
"It's just as important as if you had been in a car accident, or if you had suffered a house fire. It's just an important thing that can happen to a person and it's just hard to forget," said Bailey. "It began with dirty looks and that progressed to saying ugly names. That eventually progressed to threats. Don't ever let me catch you off of campus you better hope that I don't catch you away from school."
Bailey says there was at least one case where the bullying did turn physical.
"There was just that fear of having to face that person every day, day in, day out. She seemed to really enjoy making my existence miserable at school," said Bailey.
But Bailey says at a certain point she couldn't allow herself to be a victim and that helped her cope.
"I finally got to the point where I said you know, 'I don't care what she says about me or to me, I know the truth,'" said Bailey.
Dr. Cheryl Kaiser literally wrote the book on school bullying. She says it's not surprising for memories of bullying to stay with a person even after they make it out of the teens.
"I think that anyone who is bullied over the course of their life time feels very oppressed by it. Where you're talking about a fair number of people congregating, you're always going to have somebody that is going to have some power and control issues and is going to be involved in bullying so it can being something that can be very damaging for a long period of time," said Dr. Kaiser.
That's why many schools are now trying tackle bullying head one. In Dougherty County schools, they've teamed up with Phoebe to bring Rachel's Challenge into the schools.
"We've encouraged the schools to use some paper to write on the piece of paper when they've seen an act of kindness and hopefully say to the person you're a link in my chain," said school nurse Ri Lamb.
It may not sound like much, but officials are hoping that if they can encourage kindness that will stamp out bullying in.
"When you have violence and bullying it kind of fosters and atmosphere of violence and bullying, but when you have kindness and compassion and understanding, then it fosters an atmosphere of kindness and compassion," said Lamb.
Part of Rachel's Challenge is also delegating some to be student leaders, an ear other than administrators that students can talk to if they're having issues with classmates. D'Antay Williams is one of those leaders.
"I think sometimes it gets to some people and some kids ignore it, but I think it still hurts. They might act like they ignore it, but they might go home and cry the whole night," said Williams.
Blake Bailey says she thinks that support system structure is what's most needed for victims of bullying.
"It's a silent situation. So many people don't realize that the person who is being bullied is being bullied," said Bailey.