Learning to manage bullies, one school at a time

The boy who allegedly shot his classmates in Ohio on Monday says he'd been bullied by some of those who were victims. Bullying is the motive behind most school shooting. CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano found a woman who is trying to stop bullying one school at a time.

About 300 times a year, Jodee Blanco pleads with students to think about the consequences of their words and actions.

"Never giving someone a chance, to never try and get to know someone, that is bullying!" Blanco said at a middle school in Jackson, Ohio. "It's not just joking around, bullying damages you for life."

Blanco was a Hollywood publicist, but she became an anti-bullying activist after the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. That tragedy got her thinking about her own experiences as a bullied student, and the day she wanted to end it all.

"My weapon of choice wasn't a gun. It was a kitchen knife," Blanco said.

Her crusade is now in its 13th year.

"Bullying is about kids needing compassion and my perspective is the bully and the victim are the flipside of the same coin. They both need compassion," Blanco said. "Bullying isn't just the mean things you do, it's all the nice things you never do."

She relives the pain of her school years, even playing the role of her bullies. The reaction is raw.

"You look around and you see people in tears you know it;s your friends and they are in tears and you're like, 'Why aren't I helping them?'" Blanco asks.

Eighth grader Kate Exline says she now feels empowered to end the cycle of harassment.

"I think one of the most important things is taking steps to try and get rid of it or decrease it because this is a ginormous problem," Exline said.

Blanco said she tries to manage her expectations when tackling the bullying problem.

"I don't think it can be solved, only because it's about the desperate need to fit in, run amok. If you are in a hole, I am the guy who will crawl down there with you and get you out, because I lived in that hole my entire adolescence, and I know what it feels like and I do know how to get you out," Blanco said.

Blanco's determined to prove that compassion is the best defense against cruelty, one school a time.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.