NUTLEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A startling new study Monday showed that students who have been bullied are taking extreme measures to stay safe.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the study showed students who are victims of bullying are more likely to bring a weapon to school – especially if they are threatened or injured.

“People used to label her and picture her – they painted as a girl that she’s not,” one mother said of her daughter.

It was painful for the mother, who did not want her name used, to talk about how her daughter was tormented in school.

“She had to leave the district because she was bullied,” the mother said.

The study said as a result of such victimization, an estimated 200,000 U.S. high school students brought weapons to school to protect themselves.

Staela Keegan is a social worker who counsels kids who are bullied.

“I think children are afraid, and if the family ties are not there, and if they don’t have someone that they can talk to about these worries, they do feel like they need to protect themselves,” Keegan said.

The study was released at a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies. It said 20 percent of students reported being bullied.

The one thing the victims have in common is that they are more likely to be girls and in lower grades.

Nutley, N.J. Health Commissioner and former school board member Steven Rogers, who helped craft anti-bullying policies in his district, said the key to preventing bullying in the first place is accountability.

“Bullies are not really held accountable until it’s really too late, and I’ve advocated for many years that parents should be held responsible for the behavior of their children,” Rogers said. “I am talking about repetitive behavior; habitual behavior”

The study was based on 15,000 interviews nationally. In New Jersey, some parents said they feel safer these days, after the state instituted one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the country.

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