New Approach To Combating Bullies

An Oregon school bus camera captured bullies in action, each blow a direct hit to the victim's self-esteem.

A Connecticut seventh grader was mercilessly tormented at school. He hung himself in a closet.

And, as CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports, a baby-faced high schooler, also the victim of bullying, retaliated with a deadly shooting rampage at his San Diego area high school.

"If there's a shooting, we respond afterward," says Ron Astor, a school violence expert at the University of Southern California. "There's an event like this, they respond afterwards.

"We need to really start to move into a prevention mode."

Fed up with statistics that show 30 percent of middle and high school students are either bullies or bullied, Chula Vista schools have partnered with police in an effort to stop bullying where it starts - in elementary school.

They've started using an anti-bullying training system called Olweus, named after its creator - a Norwegian professor. In the European schools that use it, the program has cut bullying 30 to 70 percent.

At Harborside Elementary in Chula Vista, the Olweus program began with a massive survey of parents, teachers and students.

"The goal of the bully is to try to make the other person sad and make the bully win," says student Monique Raymond.

"The more the person cries, the more the bully wants to keep hitting them or bullying them," says another student, Nykolos Hernandez.

Parents couldn't believe the survey findings: 45 percent of their own kids admitted to bullying.

And, as Melanie Ostberg, of the Chula Vista Police Department, tells parents, "18 percent of your children said they were bullied at least once a week."

Parents and kids are learning exactly what behavior is unacceptable.

Kids are taught to always tell an adult. The new environment creates peer pressure against bullies.

"Nykolos stopped a fight and he got an award for that,'' said student Natalia Mercado.

"I stopped two bullies from hurting one kid,'' says Nykolos. "I told them to stop. And afterwards, I asked the boy if he was okay."

Now every single infraction is reported and tracked.

"Which will tell us there's been a problem, an ongoing problem between these two children, and we can go and intervene,'' said principal Olga West.

Intervention for prevention -- before bullying does permanent or deadly damage in another American classroom.