KPLC Special Series: The trauma of bullying - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

KPLC special series: The trauma of bullying

Bullying is a hot topic in schools nationwide today, including here in our own backyard.

Through the month of November, KPLC's Holly Carter will take an in depth look at bullying in Calcasieu Parish.

She's only 13, but she's dreaming big.

"I like to dance," said Sydney LeBoeuf. "I like to do ballet."

But the confidence she shows in her pointe shoes didn't always come across in other places, like the classroom. Sydney said kids started bullying her in November of last year, after she tripped one day in class.

"Everyone was like of you broke the floor with your face," said Sydney.

As a new student, she thought they did it to all the new kids on the block.

"I would like walk away, or I would like tell them to be quiet, or I would like turn my back and not pay attention," said Sydney.

She thought the terror would go away.

"It stopped for like maybe for two days, maybe," said Sydney. "But then it would like pick right back up again."

Sad feelings and unhappiness set in, but she still didn't report it, until last spring when depression took over.

"It was going on for so long, and I was just tired of it," said Sydney. "I just like broke down. I don't know, just the thought of, I just wanted it to stop."

Her mother Carla LeBoeuf, a former teacher, was blind-sided.

"I was floored, absolutely floored, because the things that I would've seen in any one of my students when I was a teacher, I didn't see when it was under my nose," said Carla.

A hospital stay came next.

"She was all for it," said Carla. "I think she knew she needed to be there. For me, I really felt like a failure. How did I not see it? How did I rationalize, I just thought it was teenage girl stuff."

Seven days. That's how long Sydney stayed in the hospital. Away from her family, her friends, and the bullies. There she recovered, rehabilitated and became a new person.

"I feel that I'm at a point that I'm so much stronger that I'll never go back there," said Sydney.

"She was happier, because she knew we were all on her side," said Carla. "She made mention of that several times that she didn't know that she had that much support."

Sydney said she's now good friends with one of the bullies.

"The girl who would call me names, I think she personally changed, because she heard what happened to me," said Sydney. "And she changed."

But Sydney and her mother know this ordeal taught everyone involved a lesson.

"I've learned she's a person who feels things very deeply, more so than she shows, and internalizes a lot more than she lets on," said Carla. "But she didn't let the bullies get the better of her and that she's stronger than that."

Now, Sydney is encouraging other victims to stand up and speak up before it's too late, even saying she wishes she'd said something sooner.

"Before it gets too bad, talk to someone so it doesn't get worse," said Sydney. "If you don't want to talk to a parent or a teacher, you can talk to a friend."

Sydney's mother is working on legislation to make bullying in a school environment a criminal offense.

Next week, we'll meet another victim, who, just like Sydney, ended up in the hospital after being bullied.

For a look behind the scenes of the investigation, click here.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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