If you don't think bullying is a serious problem, consider the story of Cassidy Trevan.
Before the age of 13, Cassidy was an ordinary kid. She loved animals, hanging out with her mom, Linda, and taking goofy selfies. In seventh grade, however, everything changed. A group of girl students at Wellington Secondary College in Melbourne, Australia, had begun to bully and terrorize Cassidy.
What started out as slaps on the face and jabs on social media continued to escalate until Linda pulled her daughter out of school for a semester. Just when things started to look up for Cassidy, her classmates committed the ultimate act of betrayal.
It was at this school in Melbourne where the bullying began. A group of girls terrorized Cassidy, hitting her, following her around shops, and even leaving cruel graffiti on her family home.
She was heartbroken and terrified. Linda pulled her out of school and got her enrolled in a bullying recovery program. Eventually, she felt strong enough to return to campus two days a week.
Everything seemed to be looking up for Cassidy. She was back at school, in love with her boyfriend, Luke, and the girls who used to bully her had apologized for their actions. Cassidy was thrilled to accept their invitation to the Springvale Festival in February 2014.
The bullies, however, had been hatching a sinister plan. Instead of attending the festival, they lured Cassidy to a nearby house where three older boys were waiting. While two took turns gang raping Cassidy, the third stood watch. Cassidy was only 13 years old at the time.
Cassidy told her mother what happened, but fearing retaliation, refused to make a formal statement to police. After the incident, the bullies continued to harass her on social media and over the phone. Linda watched in horror as the daughter she'd once known began to slip away.
As Linda explained:
"She suffered flashbacks of the crime, nightmares, insomnia, separation anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, and subsequent worsening mental illness. I helplessly watched my precious child wither away before my eyes, mentally and physically, until she rarely got out of bed, until she could no longer take the pain and torment you caused her."
On December 12, 2016, Cassidy couldn't take the pain any longer. Tragically, she took her own life.
Now, Linda is speaking out on social media. She has a message for others about bullying -- and a reality check for the kids who did this to her daughter. She said:
"This was not a game, this was not just a night of fun for you. You took away my child's innocence, her trust in humanity, her dignity, her rights as a human being, her ability to live a normal life...and ultimately her life itself.
I'm not a mean, angry, or vindictive person...but what you kids did...hope you never forgive yourselves and never forget the name Cassidy Trevan. You all have blood on your hands for as long as you live.
Bullying killed my child. Bullying must be taken seriously."