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Tackling Idaho's bullying problem

Posted at 10:06 PM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 00:06:59-05

A new report calls Idaho one of the most bullied states in America.  

Specifically, the website, BackgroundChecks.org shows the Gem State tops the list for teens who are cyber bullied. 

The Caldwell Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council has made stopping bullying the top priority on it's agenda.

The issue is personal for many attending the meeting because they’ve been victims. 

Bianca Mora’s bullying started in middle school with a hate page about her on Facebook. Bianca says the online harassment sent her into a deep depression and she tried to commit suicide.

"I didn't feel good enough. I didn't feel good enough for anyone. Like I didn't deserve to be here." Said Bianca. "I felt like someone else could do better and the world would be a better place without me."

The teenagers attending the meeting say bullying happens more than you think, because victims of bullying are too scared of their attacker to report it.

"I didn't want people knowing I was hurt because when they find out you are hurt they make fun of you even more. The think you are weak or too sensitive and it gets worse." Said bullying victim Delphia Lloyd.

The students acknowledge social media makes bullying easier, but they say disconnecting from the internet does not solve the problem.

"Yeah, that is the solution, get off. But if they keep doing it while you are off and you know the rumors are going and continuing, that just puts a big weigh on you. You can't focus on school or be yourself."  Said bullying victim Armando Guerrero.

According to the National Education Association, bullying impacts approximately 13 million student every year and an estimated 160,000 kids stay at home from school because of bullying.

Those statistics, along with an eye opening visit to the Caldwell Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, spurred Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra to take on bullies.

"In the words of the kids it hasn't gotten down to the student level. Peers have just found big and better ways to belittle each other." Said Ybarra.

One of those ways is the controversial app called “After School.”  The app is free, anonymous and used to bully.

"When the kids shared that app with me, I was completely floored and shocked."  Said Ybarra.

Superintendent Ybarra tells 6 On Your Side her new campaign is about educating adults to be the first line of defense against bullying.  That’s something the Caldwell Mayor and his council agree must happen to stop the widespread problem.

"It's our job as parents, teachers, administrators. They want to tell you. They want your help." Said Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas.

The teens who spoke at the Youth Advisory Council meeting hope by speaking out, other bullying victims will draw strength in knowing they are not alone.

"Put down that knife, the gun. Don't take those pills. Don't hate yourself. Because if those hateful words have power, your words of love and kindness, your success have just as much even more power." Said bullying victim Delphia Lloyd.