Bullying stories trigger tears on Capitol Hill

You could've filled a pool (or at least maybe a petri dish) with all the tearing up that occurred at a Thursday forum in Washington meant to call attention to bullying.

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), a mom of one and stepmom to three kids, teared up while speaking of children as young as seven years old who have committed suicide because of bullying.

“As a mom, it really tears my soul to think about that,” she said, her voice wavering.

Sanchez wiped away tears again as other guests at the Children Uniting Nations’ 7th annual national conference shared their tales of bullying and torment.

"Hairspray" star Nikki Blonsky recalled being picked on throughout life for her weight, and shared a story about being beaten down in elementary school by classmates who called her “every name in the book.” She also said the bullying hasn’t stopped now that she’s an actress.

“They think that my life is lollipops, candy and roses, but I still get bullied in Hollywood, and I deal with it every single day,” she said.

Blonsky was sympathetic to those who are also enduring harassment, and offered a way to reach out.

“You don’t stand alone, we’re here with you,” she said. “Follow me on Twitter and I’ll respond immediately.”

Brooke Anderson, co-host of TV show "The Insider," offered a tear-jerking story about how she was “mercilessly tormented” for years during middle and high school by a specific group of students.

“I was punched in the back and shoved to the ground in front of a lot of kids, but I never retaliated” she said as her voice began to crack.

She took a long pause and deep breath and continued. “I would wait
until I was home, and cry and cry to my mother, and she would say,
‘You are very strong…and you can and will survive this.’ And I did,
although it felt like many days I was hanging by a thread.”

Daphna Edwards Ziman, founder of Children Uniting Nations, shed tears
multiple times throughout the panel discussion.

“Now you’ve made me cry in front of the press,” she said after Sanchez
shared her statement.

Other participants of the morning panel included actor Freddie Smith, musician Colby O’Donis, former Real Housewives of New Jersey star Danielle Staub and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.).