Former victim speaks out against bullying
MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) —
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There's an old playground chant often quoted by children who face bullys: "sticks and stones may break break my bones, but words can never hurt me."
But words do hurt.
And they can break a child's spirit and ability to learn at school.
Tonight, Local 15's Darwin Singleton talks with a young woman who endured those hateful words and managed to rise above them.
"It happened that quickly, my first day there."
Let's just say high school was not a pleasant experience for 18-year-old Cayce Stallworth.
"He said, "Look at that black, burnt gorilla that belongs in the zoo!" And the whole class started laughing. And THAT, that really affected me. So I grabbed all my stuff and ran out of the classroom. And I stayed out of school for almost a month."
Middle school had been kind to Cayce. But when the arrived as a freshman at Blount High School, Cayce says she was judge from the moment she walked into the building- not because of anything she did but because of how she looked.
"So they kept saying it, kept calling me names, and went into the hallway and everybody was calling me names there, they were pointing and laughing at me because my face was darker than my nose."
"And this is what they went for, just my face."
And that is what Cayce knew was waiting for her everyday when she got off the bus- a gauntlet of insults and laughter and pain.
"It took my self-esteem all the way down. I wasn't confident, I didn't go anywhere, I didn't hang out with people, I didn't want to hang out with people."
It was about to get worse.
Cayce says she was shocked to learn her closest friend tried to hang herself with a belt at the school. Cayce discovered she was being bullied, too. But at first, students thought it was Cayce.
"They said a girl tried to hang herself in the bathroom and the story got twisted and everybody through it was me."
Cayce's grade began to suffer. She felt like no one cared. Cayce even considered taking her own life, until, one day, when District Attorney Ashley Rich came to the school to talk about her office's Bully Blocker program.
Cayce reached out and connected with Ann Sirman with the DA's office.
It was the beginning of her journey out of depression. Someone DID care.
Cayce survived high school, graduated, and is now enrolled in college for a medical assistant degree, with an eye on becoming a pediatrician.
"You know how they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Yeah. I have more confidence, I have more friends, I actually want to go places and hang out with people."
Cayce credits BullyBlocker with helping her move past the hurt. Now she's helping with the program. It's part of her healing. And Cayce says she want to help others and let them know, yes, it does get better.
"No, I'm more confident. I don't care anymore."
Watch the full interview: