PEOPLE's Most-Inspiring Anti-Bullying Stories
2010: I WAS BULLIED BECAUSE...
Seven teenagers from different walks of life share their stories of humiliation and abuse, proving that bullies don't discriminate. "This is not a crazy story; this happens all the time," one high school student said of being tormented for being gay.
2008: TURNING GRIEF INTO ACTION
When her son Jeff, 15, hung himself after being tormented on the Internet, Debbie Johnston channeled her grief into action, getting Florida to pass one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying laws in the country. "There's always Jeff's voice in my head, saying, 'Mom, you've got a job to do,'" she told PEOPLE.
2005: WHAT IS CYBERBULLYING?
PEOPLE investigates a new terrain of bullying that's occuring on Web sites and chat rooms, where mean kids are able to torment their victims 24/7 – and still remain anonymous in their online abuse. "It's a subversive, sneakier kind of bullying," one parent told PEOPLE.
1999: TURNING BULLIES INTO PEACEMAKERS
Peace Builders, a program created by child psychologist Dennis Embry, helps transform bullies into peaceable classroom citizens by teaching kids at nearly 400 U.S. elementary schools nonaggressive ways to deal with touchy situations. "Children need to be heroes," he told PEOPLE.
2010: THE AFTERMATH OF PHOEBE PRINCE
Fifteen-year-old Phoebe Prince ended her life in January 2009 after enduring relentless bullying at school and on Facebook. Her death was a wake-up call to teachers, administrators and parents nationwide, with anti-bullying measures being passed across the U.S. "The biggest change," said Prince's principal Daniel Smith, "is heightened awareness."
2001: SCHOOLROOM TORMENT
"We've passed bullying off as a rite of passage and created schools where violence works," said psychologist Dorothy Espelage, who shared her findings after observing bullies since 1995. "We need to change the climate of the school so there isn't any tolerance at all for this sort of behavior."
2010: A BULLY'S SIDE OF THE STORY
"I thought of myself as a playful bully: I bullied with a smile on my face," high schooler Daniel Harrison, 15, said of teasing one classmate on the bus. But, after going too far he understood the consequences of his ugly behavior – and changed for the better. "I realized who I was, and I hated it," he said. Now, "I always end up befriending the people being bullied," he said.
2001: SEEKING A SOLUTION
Two years after Columbine, violence in school makes it clear that bullying, like other adolescent ills, isn't just something to be endured. Parents, afraid to send their children to school, demand quick action from administrators and lawmakers, who struggle to shape anti-bullying legislation.
2011: A SCHOOL INTERVENES
Over a decade, a small Massachusetts school has upheld its zero-tolerance approach to bullying and hosted the yearly Day for Change. "We want kids to know the school cares," an associate principal tells PEOPLE of quickly intervening and teaching empathy to students.