12 Investigates: Chesterfield youth fight back against bullying

12 Investigates: Young people fight back against bullying

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - It's a story that we keep hearing in the news across the country, young students taking their lives because of a bully in school.

Most recently, we saw a case in Caroline County where some speculated a teenage girl shot herself to death after being bullied relentlessly.

A Chesterfield teen is fighting back and letting other teens know there is hope.

"They would call me ugly, fat, they would use swear words names at me. They told me to kill myself," said Mackenzie Motola.

In Mackenzie's first year of high school, her mother had to pull her out of a traditional classroom after they say bullies went too far, tormenting Mackenzie.

"Some of them were just joking around, and then others were like, 'seriously, you should go kill yourself. Drink bleach,'" said Mackenzie.

It wasn't just happening at school, but also online. Mackenzie, like so many victims, couldn't escape her bullies.

"Everyday in the hallway, I was either getting pushed or shoved and people were like calling me names straight to my face and like tweeting about it and saying all sorts of things," said Mackenzie.

"To know that there's nothing you can do, and that that's your child?" said Mackenzie's mom, Tammy. "It's very painful to know that she's doing the right thing, but that there's this group of girls and they make it every day their mission to belittle and to make fun of and push other people around, who just so happen to be tender hearted."

It's a problem 5th grader Ally Latino saw in her school, too. Even that young, she knew something needed to be done to help the victims.

Her dad runs a company that looks at what causes problems and she decided to put bullying to that test.

"So how can bullying happen? There's cyber bullying, physical bullying, and verbal bullying," said Ally.

The chart breaks down the issue point by point: How does one become a bully victim? How does one become a bully? What environmental problems let that happen?

Using professional software, a 5th grader looks for the root of the problem and asks tough questions.

"Why would the person just be bullied and not tell? They are scared," said Ally.

There are a lot of answers, but there's no one root cause of bullying.

"The bully probably felt sad or had emotional issues and needed to just put it out against someone."

The list breaks down the failures in the system that lead to the real life problems, where people get hurt.

"When you look at it in a bigger context, I think it broadens the mind, and you know it's not just this one kid that's allowing this to happen," said Bob Latino, Ally's father. "There's a bigger picture."

For victims like Mackenzie, they are relatable problems.

"I was afraid of what the bullies might do if they caught wind of what I was telling people they did," said Mackenzie. "I just felt like it would get worse and worse and worse - which it did."

She has joined her mom in creating a Facebook page and website - The Bully Buzz - to start conversations about bully problems and how to stop them.

"I think that, at some point, we have to hold accountability where accountability lies," said Tammy. "We have Twitter, we have ask.fm, we have Tumblr, you have Facebook. You have all of these things that are out there. And so who do we point the finger to?"

This year, Mackenzie is back in school. There are still problems, but she has hope that things are getting better. By having a voice helping others here, she is helping herself to heal.

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