TODAY | October 18, 2012
>>> heard many stories from victims of bullying and the profound effect it can have on the lives of kids. well, this morning, marlowe thomas is here with a unique perspective on this terrible problem, one we don't often get to see. good morning to you.
>> good morning. we're going to take you inside an incident of bullying and look at it from all sides. the victim, the bullies and their parents. but the kids doing the tormenting and the choices they make. they may surprise you.
>> reporter: in the small town of central ohio, it's not surprising that the lives of these two young people crossed paths. for elizabeth and scott , they live just a dozen miles apart.
>> we started hanging out and talking.
>> we had a good time.
>> reporter: but elizabeth who also goes by eliza didn't expect was for scott 's close-knit group of friends to viciously attack her.
>> they automatically hated eliza , they were jealous i was with her.
>> including his best friend tyler gregory.
>> we judged her by her pictures without even knowing who she was.
>> the taunting began online. via text and on phone calls .
>> they started telling me that i'm very ugly and i look like a troll and i felt like all my self-confidence was ripped out.
>> her feelings weren't on our minds at all.
>> tyler 's mom melanie gregory discovered some of his facebook postings and told him to stop.
>> i was devastated because i'm like, what am i doing wrong? why is he doing this?
>> then the harassment took a shocking turn. during a call, another friend of scott and tyler 's got on the line.
>> that girl got on the phone and told me that i should kill myself. i wanted to give up. i thought everything was gone.
>> it's hard to hear because she's my child and i think she's absolutely gorgeous.
>> she said she never wanted to speak to me again.
>> reporter: like many victims, elizabeth rarely stood face-to-face with those who tormented her. a new survey shows 70% of students witnessed bullying online . the awareness of the issue is on the rise. this video was created by two students hoping to get teens to stop victimizing their peers. its producers, scott and tyler .
>> this was four or five months after having spoken to eliza . we were listening to the radio and they were talking about the suicide of a boy named jamie.
>> reporter: the 14-year-old's suicide in 2011 came after excessive online bullying.
>> his death really touched me because it really could be anyone. and the eliza situation clicked when i heard that.
>> reporter: last spring, scott and tyler were asked to be spokespeople for an anti-bullying campaign. they accepted but initially kept their history with elizabeth a secret.
>> i was ashamed of my past. but then i realized that this could be a positive experience for others who might be bullying somebody. and if something were to happen, you would have to live with that guilt for the rest of your life.
>> reporter: last month, scott and tyler apologized to elizabeth .
>> i want to believe in my heart they've changed and they're not going to do this to anyone else .
>> it's wrong how you're putting other people down to lift yourself up. we found that lifting people up lifts us up even more than putting people down.
>> reporter: elizabeth has put the incident behind her. and was recently nominated to her school's junior homecoming court.
>> my dad tried to be there for me telling me you're going to get through this. that is just a mountain that i've climbed and on the top of the world . nothing can bring me down now.
>> of course, we want to applaud the kids for being honest and shows that even quote unquote good kids get involved in something like this. why did you want to bring attention to it?
>> because it all feels so helpless. you read about this epidemic, and kids being brutalized, kids killing themselves, and now there is really something we can do. today we're launching a campaign called be more than a bystander. and a whole wonderful group of people, the department of education , the ad council , aol, facebook, our foundation have all gotten together to launch this campaign to say to kids, you know, kids are seeing 80% of children are seeing a bullying incident at least once a week.
>> and what are kids supposed to do?
>> they don't know what to do. the parents should start telling them, this what you can do. you can try to remove the child that's being bullied from the situation. find a parent or parent or teacher and find them what's going on. and when you see a child bullying at school, include them, smile at them, be kind to them. and being isolated is what's really so tortuous for them. don't give the bully an audience. the problem is that parents aren't really talking to their children. they're kind of waiting for their children to come to them.
>> i was going to ask you about parents. we saw that mom in the piece and our hearts go out to her. she's horrified her son could be involved.
>> she had no idea her child was a bully and found out about it and took it seriously. you have to take it seriously as a family issue. and if your child is being bullied, they don't want to tell. they're embarrassed. the best thing we can do now is get to the bystander. that's really the focus of this campaign and say you can do something about it. because most kids aren't either the bully or being bullied, they're the bystander.
>> and wouldn't want them to be passive bystanders.
>> that's right.
>> and i should mention a quick congratulations is in order. you were just honored with the freedom award from the national civil rights museum .
>> thank you.
>> congratulations to you. well-deserved and