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Aired November 24, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go now.
It may be a crime. Yes, the crime is back (ph) from the 21st century. It is bullying, children humiliated and harassed into desperate positions. Their abusers dehumanize these victims as if they aren`t real people.
We will visit a school with the strictest anti-bullying standards in America. And Jenny McCarthy tells us how she was tormented as a teen.
Let`s put an end to bullying right here, right now. Let`s get started.
Good evening. We are back in Los Angeles and we are live.
Thank you for being with us for a very important hour.
Tonight, vicious comments posted online, verbal abuse, sometimes even physical violence. It`s hard to believe what our kids are going through at school these days and at home, places where they`re supposed to be safe. If you think bullying doesn`t affect your kids, you`re wrong.
This isn`t harmless teasing. This is an epidemic that is ending in some kids taking their own lives.
We`re going to explore that tonight.
October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. I want to help figure out why this is happening so much and perhaps what we can do about it and who some of the victims have been. I think you`ll be surprised.
Now, I sat down with a group of high schoolers who talked about bullying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bullying is when someone is trying to lower someone else`s self-esteem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bullying, to me, it means when someone is, like, being mean to somebody else for no reason but their own pleasure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of kids are being bullied because if they`re not into the latest styles or if they`re hanging out with the right crew, then they`re just automatically put to like, oh, then they have to get bullied.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt kind of like a victim, and I was scared to say certain things, which isn`t a very good feeling to have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The majority of people that I ever see bullied are, like, people that dress a different way or that look a different way or act a different way. Even just based on their sexuality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re making fun of me, calling me stuff like "anorexic," "skeleton."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of my friends, he was getting bullied a lot because he had really long hair. And then he got into drugs and all that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These days, bullying is affected by every way that you live your life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can be bullied anywhere, and all the time. You can be bullied online, with your cell phone. You can be bullied at school, at home, anywhere. It`s just gone overboard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: When the kids speak up about it, you really see what a huge problem this is. And we were in New York last week. And that was a school in New Jersey. Right there, they are implementing what might be the most stringent anti-bullying laws in the nation.
I had the opportunity to speak with two students and the assistant superintendent of school, Steven Engravalle.
Listen to this now.
PINSKY: Was there a big problem that you were responding to, or was it something you`ve been trying to sort of address for quite some time?
STEVEN ENGRAVALLE, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, FORT LEE SCHOOL DISTRICT: You know, actually, we`ve been always addressing bullying, and we`ve always addressing bullying in a proper manner. However, maybe sometimes there were some things that fell through the cracks. And that`s why we`re one of the few school districts that supports this bill. As some look at it as an unfunded mandate, et cetera, it was absolutely necessary.
PINSKY: Are you seeing an effect?
ENGRAVALLE: Absolutely seeing an effect.
ENGRAVALLE: We`ve actually seen an increase in the amount of situations that are reported, where a lot of times before, when people didn`t understand what needed to be reported versus what you could kind of say -- well, yes, when I was a kid, somebody picked on me, too -- as a teacher or staff member or other member of the school community, now they actually make the reports and we take action.
PINSKY: So, very much like harassment in the workplace or domestic violence, it`s raising the bar of awareness and getting people to really take these things seriously and report them.
ENGRAVALLE: Doctor, it`s all about education. That`s really what it was, where folks -- we always had these policies and procedures in place, but I don`t think folks really understood what they meant, why they are important, and that everything needs to be taken seriously.
PINSKY: Got it.
So Megan and Andrew, thank you guys for joining me.
What does bullying mean to you guys?
MEGAN GIMSON, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: Well, for me, bullying, like, means that someone else is trying to make someone else feel inferior, and usually when they don`t have enough respect for themselves or self-esteem.
PINSKY: So the bullied person doesn`t have self-esteem or the bully?
GIMSON: The bully.
PINSKY: The bully has low self-esteem.
PINSKY: So they`re making themselves feel better by picking on someone else.
PINSKY: Do they confront the bullies, or do they come to the rescue of the kids that are being bullied?
GIMSON: I think it`s more likely for them to come to the rescue if they know them and if they`re friends with them. I think the trouble is when there are the kids who don`t have many friends to come up to their aid and to help them.
PINSKY: Andrew, have you ever been bullied yourself?
ANDREW FUENTES, HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: Yes, I have in middle school, throughout the whole three years of middle school in Florida.
PINSKY: That must have been tough.
FUENTES: It was hard. I mean, some kids, they were just bullying me because I would lack the styles or I wouldn`t hang out with certain types of people.
PINSKY: Did you speak up about it? Did you tell teacher? Did you tell your parents?
FUENTES: First, I actually told my friends, because I thought that maybe if I told my mom or my dad, then they would go and tell the school faculty and probably make the matter a little bit worse than what I thought it would be.
PINSKY: So, not only were you fearful of more retribution from the bullies, were you frightened of being sort of demeaned by all your peers if you spoke up about it?
FUENTES: Yes, I actually did.
PINSKY: Megan, do you know what he`s talking about?
GIMSON: I know when I`ve seen it, like, you want to tell your friends first because they`re the closest to you and they know how you feel because they`re also probably in situations like that. And when you go to your parents, they freak out because you`re they`re kids, you know, so they want to do everything in their power to protect you, and sometimes it`s just too much.
PINSKY: And then you have the -- you`re sort of humiliated when parents jump in with both feet.
GIMSON: Yes. I think all kids are embarrassed of their parents, so it kind of makes it a little worse.
PINSKY: How dare you?
GIMSON: A little bit. A little bit.
PINSKY: Fair enough. I was embarrassed of mine. It`s all right.
Do you feel now more comfortable going to teachers and administrators now that these anti-bullying policies are in place?
GIMSON: I think that kids should feel -- definitely feel like it`s easier to go to teachers because they know -- now the teachers know how important it is.
PINSKY: I`m going to ask you a tough question. Have you ever done anything that you regret in retrospect that might have been bullying, where you might have bullied somebody? Ever done that? Do you think so?
PINSKY: Yes, it`s real common. It`s very common.
Megan, 6th grade a little bit?
PINSKY: It`s sort of a common year for everyone to bully.
GIMSON: Yes. I think I was more the person insecure of being bullied than the one being the bullier.
PINSKY: And Andrew, you say you did bully.
PINSKY: Can you tell me about it?
FUENTES: There were these certain people that would come up to me, and they would say, "If you hang out with them, then you`re not going to be with us." I was like, oh, great, I want to fit in, but I don`t want to treat other people how I have been treated the last three years. So it was kind of hard and it was kind of like a peer pressure kind of thing, and it`s hard.
How do you guys see the problem of bullying, and how do you think it should be solved? Do you think this kind of action from the administration is what it`s going to take, or do you think we need to change young people`s culture? Or both?
GIMSON: I think there`s always going to be some form of bullying.
PINSKY: My daughter told me the same thing when I talked about how happy I was these actions would be taken, and she sort of shook her head and went, "There`s always going to be something." And I thought that doesn`t feel good.
What do you mean by that?
GIMSON: Because I feel like other people, they always want to make themselves feel better, I guess. There`s always going to be insecurities, and from insecurities, you kind of take it out on other people.
PINSKY: Isn`t there a proactive way to help people that are feeling insecure before they start bullying?
GIMSON: Yes. I mean, I feel like bullying stems from other bullying. It`s like they feel insecure because someone else has made them feel insecure. So it`s kind of like a vicious cycle, I almost feel.
PINSKY: Andrew, you have some thoughts?
FUENTES: The same thing. I mean, it`s really bad how some kids are being bullied in school, but then they don`t know what to do about it because they don`t know who to come to first. But I would say there`s really trustworthy teachers in the school that would either help me through it or they would talk to the kids. Like, they wouldn`t straight on yell at them, but they would go and talk to them saying hey, just lay off him for a little while, he is going through some hard times.
PINSKY: Well, the same way what Megan is saying, that the bullies, too, need help. It`s not just the people who are being bullied, the bullies themselves often have real liabilities that need to be addressed. Don`t they?
FUENTES: Like, some bullies, I think they either have something going on at home, because a lot of kids, they can have a lot of problems at home with their siblings, their parents, and they don`t know how to express that anger, so they put it out on other people.
PINSKY: I think that is exactly right.
And Superintendent, is part of this training addressing that issue?
ENGRAVALLE: Absolutely. The key is education and calling attention to that it really exists.
Again, students go home, and then they say something to someone as a parent or a friend, and they say, again, I dealt with that as well. We can`t ignore the problem. And the bigger issue today is with the fact that these children are experiencing things that we never had to experience.
PINSKY: These kids are just great. And we`re going to have a little more with them later, talking about the whole cyber situation and what happens when you get home, and how you can`t escape this bullying.
Now, if you or someone you know is a victim, tell parents, teachers, or a trusted adult. And join our sister station, Cartoon Network, and help us spread the word about bullying awareness and prevention. Go to stopbullyingspeakup.com.
Now, next, bringing bullying home these days. The teasing doesn`t stop when the final bell rings, it`s constant. As I said, it`s on the cell phones, on the Internet. How do we stop it?
Plus, get ready for this. She is beautiful, she is funny, and she is talented. And yes, she was bullied when she was a teen. Jenny McCarthy joins us after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DYLAN, STUDENT IN ANOKA-HENNAPIN SCHOOL DISTRICT: Kids made me feel like I was the grossest person in the world, and they would just go against walls and say, "Here comes the he-she," or "Here comes the trash." And they just made me feel gross, and I didn`t feel safe at school, so I just left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That was a clip from "Bullying: It Stops Here," a town hall hosted by AC 360`s Anderson Cooper airing on CNN.
Adolescents targeted by bullies of course come in all shapes and sizes. Jenny McCarthy is a successful actress, author, and comedienne. But her childhood encounters with bullies was not funny.
Jenny shares her experience as a bullied youngster in her book, "Love, Lust, and Faking It." There it is. It`s funny, I bet.
Jenny, people are surprised I bet to learn that you were bullied. And by the way, welcome. And thank you for being here.
JENNY MCCARTHY, ACTRESS, COMEDIENNE & AUTHOR: Yes. Thank you. Love you.
PINSKY: I would hug you, but for the sake of full disclosure, I have a ridiculous cold.
MCCARTHY: I don`t want your cooties.
PINSKY: You don`t want my cooties.
PINSKY: And I can virtually guarantee you I`m going to sneeze tonight on the air.
Bill McCale (ph), are you watching? I`m going to send you the tape if that`s what happens.
MCCARTHY: Yes, I was bullied. I was a victim of it for about five years. And, you know, I think it`s proof that bullies or victims come in all shapes, sizes, social status.
PINSKY: How old were you when that was happening?
MCCARTHY: It started in 8th grade. And I was flirting with a boy in a park, which I loved to do back in 8th grade. And I walked back home, and I had no idea that the boy who was from public school -- I was in a Catholic school -- had this posse of, like, ex-girlfriends that saw me talking and followed me the whole way home, and kicked me in the back, pushed me, called me names, spit on me.
And that was my first encounter being bullied. I ran inside my home. They were screaming at my parents, calling me all these names.
PINSKY: Did your parents -- were they home?
MCCARTHY: Yes. They came outside, and they were yelling back and saying, "What`s wrong with you?"
And they started to confront my dad. My dad pushed them down the stairs, said, "I`m going to call the police."
I mean, these girls -- I came from a really tough neighborhood, too, though, on the south side of Chicago.
MCCARTHY: So, then, a few months after that, the next encounter which was awful, the girls I had heard were going to be waiting for me after school with pipes to beat me up. Yes.
PINSKY: How did you hear this?
MCCARTHY: Like, through the grapevine. These girls went to a different school, but friends of a friend said, oh, these girls are coming to school.
PINSKY: What did you do?
MCCARTHY: I asked the teacher if I could stay after school to clean the classroom.
PINSKY: Did you say --
PINSKY: They didn`t think that was a bizarre request?
MCCARTHY: No. They thought I was trying to be like a --
PINSKY: Teacher`s pet?
MCCARTHY: Yes, exactly. So I thought that this would go away. But cut to day five, and I look out the window, and those girls were still waiting for me.
And I`m like, I can`t keep cleaning the classroom. So I didn`t want to approach the teachers. I had that fear like a bunch of kids do that are victims of -- don`t want to feel, first of all, ashamed, or feel like a loser. And plus, what could they do? These girls were from a different school.
PINSKY: You couldn`t imagine how they could help?
MCCARTHY: I couldn`t imagine, and I kind of felt stupid. I wanted people to look at me like, wow, that girl has her stuff together.
MCCARTHY: You know what I mean? I had my own ego that I was trying to build. You know?
And so I decided on the sixth time I saw the girls standing out there holding the pipes, waiting for me, that I had to tell my mom to pick me up from school from now on. So she started --
PINSKY: Did you tell her why?
MCCARTHY: Yes, I did, and she went crazy, and said, "I can`t believe this."
PINSKY: Did that humiliate you further, the fact that the parents -- some of these kids were saying in that last segment that the parents overreact, they jump in, they humiliate us, that`s why we hold back.
MCCARTHY: It`s true. The only reason I did tell her was, obviously, I was scared for my life. But also, I knew that she didn`t know who these girls were.
I couldn`t be called out. It`s not like everyone in school couldn`t really make fun of me, so I thought there was a little bit of a safe window that I could tell my mom and not be embarrassed.
So my mom took action. She told me, "I`m not letting you go to this high school where these girls are going to go." So she changed where I was going to go, and I had to go to this prestigious all girl Catholic school on the south side of Chicago. So, thinking that this new school would be better, it was awful.
PINSKY: Now, why do you think you were an object? You know what I mean?
MCCARTHY: I think there`s a lot of people. If you saw a picture of my hair back in the day, we`ll see why maybe I was a perfect target for being bullied.
PINSKY: Oh, there you go.
MCCARTHY: I mean, come on.
PINSKY: I`m not sure I would bully that, but I would certainly react.
MCCARTHY: You know, I went to all girls school.
PINSKY: Well, there you are toned down there at cheerleading.
MCCARTHY: Yes. Well, I had my hair in a ponytail. But anyway, the girls were vicious in all girl catholic school.
PINSKY: So any attractive young woman who was using her beauty in any way, or was sort of accentuating it in any way, was an object of bullying.
MCCARTHY: From day one.
PINSKY: So one of the things I think people forget is that girls are brutal, too.
MCCARTHY: I mean, vicious. I mean, besides being verbally abusive, in my neighborhood they also beat up. My hair was lit on fire.
MCCARTHY: Yes. I was beat up numerous times. I had pies thrown in my face, my hair pulled, punched, kicked.
PINSKY: It`s hard to imagine that. You understand? It`s hard to imagine that you couldn`t enlist --
MCCARTHY: As I go back to little Jenny, it wasn`t hard to imagine. It was just, I saw other girls getting bullied. I put into myself as the victim role and stayed there. I didn`t want to tell any teachers. I was too embarrassed.
PINSKY: So let`s talk about that victim role for a second, because kids that are good victims -- for instance, when you look at them -- I want to describe this directly to the viewers, because it`s something that`s important.
If kids do not feel they can come to their own defense, if they`ve abandoned, neglected, or abused at home, anything like that, they`re particularly prone to this. And what see is those are the kids that orbit around -- say, in kindergarten -- that orbit around the teacher, around the teacher. They`ll hang out until they hit their head and they have a genuine need, and then they go hide in the corner.
That`s sort of a typical victim. When they have a real need, that`s when they withdraw. You notice how you were able to tell the teacher, I can be your pet, I can orbit around you, I can clean the classroom, but my real needs, I have to hide those.
MCCARTHY: Yes. Maybe it has something to do with Catholicism, too.
But it was very scary. And all I can say is, looking at the bullies now, I think it`s projected by identification, whether it`s a broken home, or like a lot of the kids today that are talking, it`s low self-esteem.
PINSKY: Well, that`s what we heard from the other kids. And the other thing is that the kids that are bullied sometimes become bullies. That`s a common thing. Did you ever bully?
MCCARTHY: It is. When I look back on it, I had probably about a one-month stint of calling a girl "Vern" whose name was Veronica. That was the extent of my going back, but I remember feeling good about this girl.
PINSKY: You know what`s funny when you say that? You know, I think all of us -- I think many people are prone to having gone through a little phase that --
MCCARTHY: Yes. And I actually think about that. I`m like, God, I want to apologize to Veronica for calling her "Vern."
PINSKY: And I remember -- I just this second remember being bullied, and I had not remembered it.
I was new at a school in fourth grade, and this guy -- another prestigious school -- a guy called me "Trotsky."
MCCARTHY: That kind of fits.
PINSKY: I know. I was a fourth grader. But "Trotsky," that`s what I -- in retrospect -- but anyway, he was trying to bully me. And he and I became good friends later, which is also a weird part of this.
PINSKY: Once kids grow up, they can heal these things. But in the throes of it, it can end up being very, very dangerous.
MCCARTHY: It does, but then I also think, like, what people should do now is, being a victim, I wish that there was an anonymous box that I could drop a letter in. That way, you know, no one knows it is coming from me, but at least the teachers can be informed that there is a bully in this class. And instead of maybe pulling out the bully, really talking to a group, so then it`s not so obvious.
PINSKY: It`s actually a great idea, because this is the day of the Internet, when a lot of this stuff is going on.
You know, my daughter, in fact, told me something. I was talking to her about bullying. And she said she thinks it`s a very hard thing to really stop because kids kind of do this.
But awareness will help, as we were saying here today. But she told me she received a nasty text in fifth grade. And really, like, oh, fifth grade, they were texting nasty things? Because I asked her if she was bullied, and she said just this one time. A nasty text when she`s 10 is awful.
MCCARTHY: There needs to be like a "21 Jump Street" -- I`m not kidding -- inside schools for bullies.
PINSKY: We`ll name it after you.
PINSKY: Next, are you or is someone you love tormented by a bully? Jenny and I are going to answer your questions when we come back.
PINSKY: Welcome back.
Jenny McCarthy is one of Hollywood`s most beautiful and busiest women. But as an adolescent, she was targeted and tormented by bullies.
Now, we have been receiving many questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages. So she and I are going to get to them right now.
We`re going to first go to Deanna, who writes, "Jenny, did bullying make it difficult for you to learn or achieve in school?"
What an interesting question, huh?
MCCARTHY: Yes, without a doubt, because in the morning, I wasn`t waking up thinking, I`m so excited to learn something today. It was, who is going to beat me up? How do I dodge the pie that I know is coming during third period every --
PINSKY: How do you concentrate? I`m just thinking about "Glee." "Glee" is sort of glamorizing bullying a little bit.
MCCARTHY: I did it. I mean, that`s why I probably cheated a lot in school. I was horrified to go to class.
I missed so much school -- and this is true -- my mom is watching -- that we got a call saying if she doesn`t come one more day, she`s not going to get her --
PINSKY: The jokes on them now.
Sarah on Facebook writes, "Jenny, did you ever want to retaliate to the bullies?"
Did you ever gather other peers together? You said you had -- it sounds like you got angry later and picked on some kid.
MCCARTHY: Yes. But, you know, I didn`t.
I felt so alone in this school, I probably had one really good girlfriend. One that I did try to confide in and say I`m really scared did wind up turning on me for their own social status.
PINSKY: Oh. Did you move around in a lot of schools?
MCCARTHY: No. I wish I would have, because it was really -- I mean, really, looking back, all of the autism things I have gone through, high school was the worst time of my life. I definitely felt like I was trapped inside a box. I didn`t see a door, I didn`t see a way out, and it was really scary.
PINSKY: Do you have a message? I guess we`ll get back into this later in the show, too, but do you have messages for kids out there who might be going through this?
MCCARTHY: Yes, which is you have to speak up. And really, if you want to be clever about it, do the anonymous letter.
PINSKY: Sure. Why not? Or send an e-mail or something.
PINSKY: I guess you can`t do that anonymously. I don`t know. Internet.
MCCARTHY: Slip a note under the door.
PINSKY: Briana tweeted, "Don`t you think it should be made mandatory for teachers and students to report bullying to school officials?"
You know, what I hate about this whole thing is that we`re now asking big brother to step in and require us to be civil and kind.
MCCARTHY: I know.
PINSKY: I hate that.
MCCARTHY: I know. But in this case, I almost think it`s OK.
Like, I am thinking about spying on Evan`s Twitter someday, because social media, you really get a sense of what teenagers are thinking. I started following some teenagers just to hear their thoughts, and it`s amazing.
PINSKY: You have to do that. You need to do that.
MCCARTHY: You have to.
PINSKY: I`m telling you, for the parents out there, too, the Internet should not be a scary place, it should be your friend. Your kids should -- you can visit their sites and go downstream and see what other kids are saying --
PINSKY: -- and doing, and get a lot of information that way.
Kim writes, "It seems like a majority of bullying is towards kids that are perceived as gay. Until this underlying issue of homophobia is addressed by parents and schools, the bullying and suicides will continue."
Certainly the headline -- and we`re going to talk about that in the next half hour -- are about kids that have sexual identity -- who are identified as gay and then are bullied, which is really one of the saddest pieces of this story.
MCCARTHY: It really is. And we`re probably going to see a lot more, too, with autism diagnosis bullying. I mean, I`m the president of Generation Rescue, and we gets numerous calls from parents who have children with Asperger`s --
PINSKY: Yes. Asperger`s kids get bullied.
MCCARTHY: -- because those kids, they get bullied a lot. And we have to try to help them out. And the only way that we can tell them to do is kind of go in and educate the class.
PINSKY: Jenny is back with me later for more of her story.
But first, from taunting to typing, from punching to posting, there`s no escape from online bullying in the digital age.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): October is Bullying Awareness Month. Forget that old saying sticks and stones. Words have always hurt. In the digital age, that hurt never sleeps. It rages 24/7 online, on Twitter, Facebook, and cell phones.
And later, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer killed himself last month after being relentlessly bullied. His parents join us to say, once and for all, no more. Not one more punched-pose or put down. Not one more child suffering so much abuse that they feel there is no way out.
Plus, Jenny McCarthy is here helping us find answers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of my friends was being made fun of just from the way she looked. She looked kind of dark. So, everybody would call her, you know, gothic or emo or something like that. And it went to the point where she would start cutting herself or believe in committing suicide to the point where I had to help her make it better a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Jenny will be rejoining me shortly, and we are continuing our conversation tonight about bullying. And interesting in that last little bit of video before that child, there was a hate kill sign. It`s something to think about. Now, it`s not just happening in the school hallways any more, it`s in your home.
Kids are terrorizing each other on Facebook, by texting, e-mails, even YouTube. Now, many of us when kids, the home was kind of the refuge. It was the safe place. You heard Jenny how she ran home from those pretty brutal kids. Now, there`s no escape. Tragically, some teens have been driven to suicide. Listen to this from my conversation with the New Jersey high schoolers.
PINSKY: You were beginning to talk about electronic media, internet and its effect on bullying, because of all the access and all the social networking, you really can`t escape the bullying once it starts, can you?
MEGAN GIMSON, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: No.
PINSKY: What`s that like?
ANDREW FUENTES, HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: It`s hard because the thing is with Facebook, Twitter and all of those social networks is that a lot of kids, they think that oh, if I go on, it will be a fun thing, but I think my mom is right. My mom and dad are correct. They`re 100 percent right. By just having those things, they`re just another way to get yourself into more trouble.
I think that a lot more kids, they think they`re stronger behind a computer because they think oh, no one is going to say anything back to me. I`m just going to be reading a screen. And, it`s harder for the person, for the victim, because when they read it, they can read it a lot more times than just the one time.
PINSKY: Not only that, they`re helpless to respond, aren`t they?
PINSKY: Megan, it cuts right through you, doesn`t it?
PINSKY: You ever had that? Somebody say something nasty?
GIMSON: I`ve seen it. I`ve seen it over Facebook, not to me personally but to people I know, my peers, because everyone on my Facebook with are high school students --
PINSKY: But it`s sad when it happens, isn`t it?
GIMSON: It`s sad, because you feel bad because you know them personally, and maybe, you struggle with some of the things, same things, they do it to make fun of it, so it`s really hard.
PINSKY: Of course. Let me ask you a tough question. Have you ever known anybody that got bullied to the point that they thought about hurting themselves?
FUENTES: Not per se, but I know somebody who had thought about moving away.
PINSKY: Chasing them out of their school. That`s awful. Megan, you looked uncomfortable with that question.
GIMSON: For me, bullying, I don`t see it as much personally around me. I see more of like the teasing aspects.
PINSKY: Teasing is bullying, right?
GIMSON: Yes. I see it not as -- like the more things people think are superficial on the outside, like the football player, you know, bumping a kid, like that kind of stuff, not really the really intense bullying.
PINSKY: Superintendent, that`s part of the problem, isn`t it? That gradation, the small, little bumps are actually -- they accumulate.
STEVEN ENGRAVALLE, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, FORT LEE SCHOOL DISTRICT: Well, that`s the issue. So, if I get bumped every day, three times a day, you know, only see it -- only happens every once in a while. It only happens every Tuesday, but again, it builds up over time.
PINSKY: And by the way, every once in a while, that`s not OK either.
GIMSON: Yes, no.
PINSKY: Which is not OK.
PINSKY: It`s disrespectful, not respecting body boundaries, not respecting the person. And we hope the young people build those things, certainly in high school and junior high school.
Do you feel that`s being emphasized enough to you or has been emphasized enough that you can support one another to assert yourself and not allow somebody that`s maybe bigger and stronger and seems to have steam behind them, because it`s stand up to them or get your friends to help you? Andrew, you`re smiling.
FUENTES: The thing is, like, a lot of the kids in school, they feel overpowered because they have such a big -- they think they have such a big ego or reputation. The thing is, it`s nothing really. They`re just -- they think -- you see them as big on the outside, but on the inside, they just might be just like everybody else.
PINSKY: Of course. And you know, just the thought of you two being bullied, I don`t know if you can appreciate it. You can imagine what I`m about to say. It`s heartbreaking. I can`t imagine anybody bullying either of you, or for that matter, imagine the kids you hang out with, it`s hard to even, for us an adult, even imagine why somebody would bully delightful young people.
It`s hard to understand. Are there things we, as adults, need to know or do to have really have insight to help you guys?
GIMSON: I think that they`re like having, like, the kids nowadays trying to have like the power to stand up to bullies. I don`t feel like it`s been helped like that much. There`s always those kids who don`t feel like they have a voice, you know, who don`t feel like they can stand up to the bigger bullies or the older people.
PINSKY: Is the growing awareness motivating you and your peers to come and support these kids that don`t have a voice or feel helpless or are they still alone?
GIMSON: Well, I`m in a group called Post, which is a peer outreach service team. And so, whenever I see it happening, I always feel like I`m entitled to do something about it, because I`ve been given that position like in the group.
PINSKY: And you do it.
GIMSON: If I see it.
PINSKY: And do you think you, as an example, help motivate other kids to do the same?
GIMSON: I think, maybe, my peers, the people who don`t know me or who don`t know the personal me, they probably look at me as just another kid.
PINSKY: I know, superintendent. I think role models like this are exactly the answer.
ENGRAVALLE: And I want you to know that the post program came out of our team (ph) which was required by law. So, this is something that a great thing that happened, and that`s exactly what we want. That`s the education.
PINSKY: Yes. Having a relatable source --
PINSKY: It`s infectious. So, let me go one more time around on the internet. Are there things we need to know as parents or we should be doing to help you guys protect you? I imagine it`s tough for you guys to monitor that. That`s us back at home now, right?
ENGRAVALLE: Absolutely. It`s communication. The fact that they need to tell their parents what`s going on or have their parents understanding what`s happening in their lives is terrific if they can make it happen. It`s difficult. And if not, they need to find another adult they can kind of help guide them towards us, as well.
PINSKY: Teacher, administrator.
ENGRAVALLE: If we don`t know about it, we can`t help you.
PINSKY: So, if I`m getting this correct, the fundamental, the two sort of fundamental loud take away from this program, one is kids need to speak up. Not feel like they`re alone. Speak up not just to their peers but speak up to at least an adult. I would advocate, I mean, as the parents being the ones that they speak to, but I know it`s tough.
ENGRAVALLE: If you see something, say something.
PINSKY: You see something, say something and then become a role model.
PINSKY: Because you will start a movement. You`ll infect other kids. You`re proud of that, right?
PINSKY: You should be.
FUENTES: I hope.
PINSKY: There`s another program? Tell us about that.
ENGRAVALLE: The cares for --
ENGRAVALLE: Oh, absolutely. They`re creating an atmosphere of respect and environment for success. And again, that kind of ties right into post. That`s all encompassing program that we`re doing in our district to, again, breed this culture. It`s all about culture, Dr. Drew. It`s all about culture. And we`re fixing that culture. And because of the importance of the law, that helps us kick start it.
PINSKY: The law. It makes me sad when we have to have a law, because, really, the culture should come from the home. And again, call out to parents to really start creating that cultural change in your own home. Give your kids a voice, listen to them, and never say -- my advice to parents, see if you agree with me on this, never say not my kid, because it could be your kid. And if it is, you need to ask for help, too.
PINSKY: Speak up as well.
ENGRAVALLE: We`re here to help them as well as school officials.
PINSKY: Guys, any last words from either of you? I want to congratulate you for working this program and being so articulate and honest and helping your peers. It`s a good thing.
FUENTES: Thank you. Well, for more parents like to get involved like what`s wrong with them because a lot kids won`t tell their parents what`s going on at school or on the internet, but I think a lot of parents should be getting involved in like what`s going on online because --
PINSKY: How can they do that? Just monitor what the kids are doing?
FUENTES: Not monitor, but also, I mean, I told my mom what`s my Facebook password, my e-mail, everything.
PINSKY: That`s monitoring.
FUENTES: And she knows that.
FUENTES: But, I mean, because I know that I`ll trust her not to be --
PINSKY: We friend all my kids` Facebook friends. We embarrass the hell out of our kids. That`s how we embarrass our kids (ph).
PINSKY: I know it`s a lot. Don`t worry.
FUENTES: But I told my mom, like occasionally, she can come on, check it out to see if anything is going on with other kids or anything.
FUENTES: But it`s not also what the bully is doing to the victim, but it`s also what the victim is saying back to the bully.
PINSKY: That`s very good point, Andrew. The other thing I always tell parents is go ahead and go downstream and see what other kids are saying about that kid and your kid and other kids. You can learn a lot. The internet is not a dangerous place for parents. It can be your friend.
ENGRAVALLE: It`s correct.
PINSKY: Great place to really get information. So, again, thank you for joining us. Appreciate you coming in.
PINSKY: So, it bears repeating. How do we stop bullying? We can do it by just speaking up, whether we`re kids or parents. Join Cartoon Network and help us spread the word about bullying awareness and prevention with stopbullyingspeakup. There it is right there.
Now, next, the parents of a boy, this is very touching, who was bullied to death. They are here with his message of tolerance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bullying has to stop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words destroy my soul. Words hurt. Words kill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And of course, we`re talking about young people and the bullying. But Jenny came back to join me tonight and reminded me that the internet is a bullying environment for adults, too.
JENNY MCCARTHY, WAS BULLIED AS A TEEN: Yes, after that last segment, I checked my Twitter, and I received a tweet from an old high school girl.
PINSKY: Just abusive.
MCCARTHY: Yes. Saying you`re a liar, and you`ll never be a mighty mack --
PINSKY: You know, what is it about the internet that gives people the sort of freedom to be horrible?
MCCARTHY: I don`t know.
PINSKY: It`s ridiculous.
MCCARTHY: It is. It`s weird. Maybe because it`s so easy to do and you`re not in front of the person.
PINSKY: I was going to say, if she said it to your face, that`d be one thing.
MCCARTHY: No. If I saw her in the mall, she asks me for my autograph. But on Twitter, she`s calling me a jerk and calling me a liar.
PINSKY: All of us. Again, before we have this -- again, before Big Brother has to create laws and stuff, all of us, let`s treat each other just a little bit right.
PINSKY: That`s all I`m saying. All right. Now, we`re going to get to a very difficult story. This is about a young boy from Buffalo, New York, who was mercilessly bullied in junior high school. He identified as gay, but 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer told his parents said things were finally getting better when high school started. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMEY RODEMEYER, TRACY AND TIM RODEMEYER`S SON: It gets better. Look at me. I`m doing fine. I went to the (INAUDIBLE), and now, I`m liberated. So, it gets better. Just love yourself and be set.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Last month, sadly, Jamey took his own life. He was found hanged in the front yard of his home. He told his family that life was getting better, but he had a secret blog that told a very different story.
Of course, Jenny McCarthy is back with me. And now, joining us are Jamey`s parents, Tracy and Tim Rodemeyer. Tracy, Tim, thank you so much for joining us. I mean, our condolences go out to you. Let me ask you to start out with this. Why do you think Jamey`s story touched so many people? It touched the world really.
TRACY RODEMEYER, SON, JAMEY, COMMITTED SUICIDE: I believe it`s because across the whole United States, and again, probably across the whole world, this is happening all over the place. And, it`s just shocking to see such a, you know, young, bright kid to have to be wasted for something that is just so stupid that could have been prevented, and it`s just something that`s always been there, and bullying is probably always going to be out there in one way, shape or form.
PINSKY: And you guys, I mean, I know your passion now is to make sure other parents don`t have to suffer as you have. And Jenny, you`re having a little technical stuff. I don`t know if you can hear them, but feel free to ask them questions.
MCCARTHY: Well, I`m definitely interested. And you know, I was talking to Drew before about kind of, you know, spying on your kids. Did you look into Jamey`s stuff previously to see what was going on on the internet? What he was saying?
TRACY RODEMEYER: Oh, yes. Yes. For quite the last couple of years, we had the agreement with our children, you know, we needed to know like if you were going to be on Facebook, we needed to know the friends that you were putting on there. We had to be their friend so we can see what was going on. We needed all of their passwords.
And at one point, we did have that. Jamey had a habit of changing his password here and there to probably keep us out, but we also had his computer under surveillance with computer software that would capture screenshots.
PINSKY: Right. It certainly wasn`t for lack of trying on your part. He seems like such a sweet kid. This is such a sad, sad story. And Tracy and Tim, your son`s hero was Lady Gaga. Listen to what he said about the pop star.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMEY RODEMEYER: I look up to one of the most supporting people of the gay community that I think of that I know, Lady Gaga. She makes me feel happy. And she let`s me know that I was born this way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Now, Jamey also tweeted to Gaga before he died. He wrote, "Bye, Mother Monster. Thank you for all you`ve done. Paws up forever." Tracy have you heard from Lady Gaga. My understanding is she had actually spoken out about Jamey`s story, and she was even going to talk to the president about this bullying. Do you have any news for us?
TRACY RODEMEYER: We don`t have any update, but we did talk to her manager like a week or so ago.
PINSKY: OK. Let me emphasize something here. I want to share some disturbing statistics about teen suicide. For young people age 10 to 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.
And here`s something I want to call out to everybody, and this is, you know, obviously Jamey`s parents did everything possible, but you need to also keep in mind if a child or anyone, adult for that matter is thinking about suicide, and particularly, they`re making a plan, that is a psychiatric medical emergency.
You don`t fool around with that. Even if kids have repeatedly threatened, you always go and take it as an emergency. So, let me give you a little more data here. Teens in grades 9 through 12, 15 percent of students say they are considering it. This is depression, guys. Eleven percent created a suicide plan that is very serious.
Now, the reported suicide in the 10 to 24 age group, 84 percent were males, 16 percent were females. Of course, the males are just more likely to complete it. They tend to take more violent means.
And to both of you guys, you know, he had this separate blog you didn`t know about where he identified himself and said -- he left troubling messages like I`m always bullied but no one listens. What do I have to do so that people will listen to me? You tried everything. What is your advice to parents? We`ve got about a minute and a half left.
TIM RODEMEYER, SON, JAMEY, COMMITTED SUICIDE: My advice is just keep talking to your kids and try to get it out of them. We talk to Jamey constantly about being bullied and asked him relentlessly. Are you being bullied? Are you OK? And he would say, you know, everything is fine. The last two weeks, he was one of the happiest kids I`ve seen, but just don`t give up.
Don`t think if your kid has been bullied before and it was a problem, don`t give up asking if everything is OK. You just got to keep on it. Go to his friends maybe, go to teachers, but keep up and be relentless and find out what`s going on with your child.
PINSKY: Thank you, guys. You`re, I believe, going to stay with me.
Now, coming up, what can parents do to protect their teens. We`re going to go break. Check out Lady Gaga`s YouTube tribute to Jamey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LADY GAGA, MUSICIAN: I don`t know if any of you know this, but we lost a little monster this week. And I wanted to dedicate this song to him tonight because he was really young. If you look up on the screen for a moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And welcome back. The tragic suicide of high school student, Jamey Rodemeyer, has given a human face to cyber bullying. Jamey was bullied throughout junior high school and high school, yet, he still posted video blogs giving hope to others being bullied, saying confidently, it gets better.
Last month, Jamey took his own life. Now, Jenny, you were a victim of bullying, and you have a child -- two child or one.
PINSKY: One child. And this has to be something top of mind for you.
MCCARTHY: It is. It is, you know?
PINSKY: Do you have a question for the Rodemeyer?
MCCARTHY: I do. You know, at any point, did you guys think we should pull him out of this school and put him in a different one?
TRACY RODEMEYER: We actually gave Jamey that option. Again, 8th grade went wonderful for him. And the last first two weeks of the school year, it looked like everything was going great, but I told him if things ever got so bad, there are two other schools within a few miles that we can switch him to at any time.
PINSKY: You know, guys, Jamey has left a great spirit and a great message. I see you two there, my heart just goes out to you. Are you guys getting adequate support? Are you making sense of all of this? Is it about going out and giving Jamey`s message? Are you OK? Is there anything other parents need to know or do? I feel so bad, I want to reach out and help you through the screen here.
TRACY RODEMEYER: Well, I think both of us could say, I mean, the reason we`re here is to get the word out. And again, just never give up on your children. Always listen to them. Don`t think, all of a sudden, the bullying has gone away, and that`s how Jamey made it seem.
And it seemed like as soon as he got bigger, you know, maybe he was getting stronger, but again, words are so powerful. It doesn`t matter if you`re 5`2" or 6`4", it`s still going to get to you.
PINSKY: Has the school where he was taken action? Are the kids expressing guilt and remorse at what they`ve contributed to here?
TIM RODEMEYER: No. There`s no guilt or remorse. There is actually the incident -- there was actually n incident at the homecoming dance which was the day of Jamey`s wake where my daughter went and we wanted her to have fun with her friends.
They started playing a Lady Gaga song, and they all started chanting Jamey, Jamey, and then, a few of the bullies started chanting I`m glad he`s dead.
PINSKY: Oh, you guys. That is -- I`m so sorry.
MCCARTHY: Are you guys hearing support from the bullies` families, from parents? Are parents in the community coming to you and offering help?
TIM RODEMEYER: No.
TRACY RODEMEYER: Oh, definitely all the families in the community, other than the bullies, you know, the bullies` families themselves, but there is so much support in the school and all around our area, and I mean, we`re getting support around the country, so --
PINSKY: Well, you guys, thanks for joining us. The people that are bullying to that extent have got to be living in their own kind of hell. Jenny, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.
MCCARTHY: Thank you.
PINSKY: I appreciate it.
So, how do you stop bullying for starters? Let`s call it what it is. It`s violence against other humans. It`s potentially criminal. And thanks to internet, it`s 24/7. It is abuse. It`s not respecting the other person as a person. It needs to stop. All of us, we must speak up. Kids, speak up. If someone you know is a victim, tell someone by letting other people know about it.
We can make a difference. If we remain silent, we ensure that nothing will change. Our sister channel, Cartoon Network, is helping us spread the word about bullying awareness and prevention. Go to stopbullyingspeakup.com.
Jenny, again, I think your story kind of has vividly explained and really shown us that it cuts across all types.
MCCARTHY: Thanks, Drew.
PINSKY: Thank you, guys. Thank you to Rodemeyers. Thank you for watching. We`ll see you next time.