Bullying now considered a crime in Georgia

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
News 12 First at 5

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- With school starting for students we know bullying will happen and now it can send you to jail. It's now a misdemeanor in Georgia and the student can get up to 12 months in jail and be forced to pay a fine.

Reports show 1 in 7 students in grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.

"It's almost like being in a burning building and you can't get out," Chelsea Gould said.

Chelsea Gould is a victim. She was bullied -- until she reached a breaking point, just like so many other kids who end up taking their own lives. Chelsea attempted suicide, but survived. Other parents worry it'll happen to their kids.

"It's always going through my mind," Amanda Thompson said.

After being bullied as a kid herself, Amanda Thompson knows what it can do to you.

"It was to the point where I did want to kill myself," Amanda said.

Amanda doesn't want that for her two kids. She has a 12 and 13-year-old in the Columbia County school system. Amanda says they both get bullied.

"We need parents to step up, stay on the school's behinds," Amanda said.

Richmond, Columbia and Burke County schools all have a bully report form you can fill out. You can even stay anonymous on the reports. Once a report is made the school investigates, leading to punishments like suspension or alternative school.

"I went to the school and the school they really did help," Amanda said.

If the bullying goes beyond school grounds, the state is also looking out for kids with a new law.

"Basically cyber bullying, if someone try's to exploit you with a picture or video, harassing online it's a misdemeanor now," Charles Kicklighter said.

Kicklighter is the assistant special agent in charge of the GBI Cyber Crimes division. He sees this all too often. Kighlighter says the misdemeanor can get you 12 months in jail and a fine. But, if the bullying is severe enough, the bully could be facing a felony.

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