TULSA - It can happen in the hallways, in the cafeteria, even in your own home.
Bullying is happening to children, maybe even your child, on a daily basis.
At Pryor Elementary, a group of 6th graders are taking a stand.
"From this day forward, I promise to respect those around me, I will not stand silent as others try to spread hatred through my community."
They are repeating a pledge taught to them by Kirk Smalley. Kirk's son, Ty, was a victim of bullying for two years before taking his own life in May, 2010. Ty, a 6th grader from Perkins, Oklahoma, was only 11-years-old.
"Ty hadn't done his homework, he hadn't done his chores, instead our baby had killed himself on our bedroom floor," said Kirk.
Kirk and his wife have made it their mission to stop bullying before it takes another innocent life. But how? That's the question facing school leaders across the country.
"It's a school-wide effort, it's a community effort," said Tenna Whitsel, Student Services Coordinator for Tulsa Public Schools.
Whitsel is in the process of implementing a new bullying policy for TPS.
In October, students began receiving bullying prevention training, steps on how to stand up for themselves and others. Staff members are also doing extensive training to better identify the problem and act on it. And by the end of the year the district hopes to have an anonymous reporting system linked to its website.
"If a child doesn't want to tattle they can put in something anonymously and we can investigate," explained Whitsel.
A great start, but according to students, they want more.
"We have a motto, if one person's not safe, we're all not safe," said 16-year-old Bianca.
A victim herself, Bianca is now part of Memorial High School's Safeteam. A group of students looking to make a difference, each with a story of their own.
"They used to call me 'Chinese Girl' and 'Chinese Eyes' and I used to cry cause I hated being called that," said Brittani, another victim of bullying.
"I didn't know them they just kept sending messages and messages," said bullying victim, Kayla.
Kayla, Bianca, and Brittani have joined other students and have started a petition to end bullying, one signature at a time; something state legislators weren't able to accomplish.
"We did not pass legislation," said State Representative Jeannie McDaniel.
Representative McDaniel co-authored House Bill 1461. It would have mandated training for school districts and provided counseling for bullies and victims.
In May, when the legislation was voted down , lawmakers said it was unfair to mandate schools to add programs with no additional funding.
"What we decided to do was let schools look for their own jurisdiction, what works best for them and leave it up to the administrators at this point," said Rep. McDaniel.
Rep. McDaniel said sometimes legislation can take two or three years to perfect and get what you want. She hasn't ruled out the idea of bringing up another bill similar to the one that failed in the coming years.
"We'll wait and see, we've had a lot of discussions about it, we've had rallies at the capitol.... I'm hoping the kids can give us insight into how to help them," said Rep. McDaniel.
In Broken Arrow, school officials have turned to a program based on compassion and respect. Named after Rachel Scott, the first student killed in the 1999 Columbine shooting, Rachel's Challenge was presented to faculty and staff in August, high school students in September, and it will be modified for elementary students later this year.
Rachel's brother Craig feels confident if the the two students who killed his sister would have sat through this program, Rachel would still be alive.
"They had no good reason for doing it, but I do feel at the same time that if they had been shown compassion it could have stopped it," said Craig Scott.
According to recent reports, one in seven students in grades Kindergarten through 12 is either a bully or has been a victim of bullying. And suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of 14.
Kirk Smalley's son is included in that statistic and hopes no other family has to go through what he and his family have.
"We need to make bullying a crime, we need to make these bully's parents accountable for their kids' actions. That one life we can change, is worth anything we have to give," said Kirk.
Smalley is booked through January with schools across the United States wanting to hear his story, Stand for the Silent .
Quite a few of our employees here at Channel 2 have admitted to being victims of bullying when they were in school. 2News Problem Solver Michelle Lowry wrote about her experience as a child and how being bullied helped shape her into the mother, daughter, and person she is today. Here is an excerpt