HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A 10-year-old girl in New Jersey is giving a whole new meaning to the term “whistleblower.”

She’s using whistles to turn the tables on bullies, and her idea is catching on.

“It was really scary. I was saying to myself ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry,'” Giada Oates said.

Frightened yet defiant, the 10-year-old is talking about the most terrifying moment of her young life. It was back in December, when she says a seventh grade boy — a bully — at Hackensack Middle School placed her in a tight chokehold and made a threat she’ll never forget.

“What exactly did he say to you?” asked CBS2’s Scott Rapoport.

“He said ‘You will die a silent death,'” Giada said. “He was holding on so tight I think he actually meant you will die.”

“My heart sank. I burst into tears. And then I became angry,” said Toni Imperiale, Giada’s mother.

But now Giada has decided to defend herself in a most unusual way: Taking her fight against bullies to a whole different level — a different decibel level.

Giada said she’s now started taking a whistle with her to school every day as protection for when she feels threatened or bullied.

“It made me feel like I had more power over the bully, and it made me feel empowered,” Giada said.

In the wake of all this, she says some of her classmates, mostly girls, started asking to wear a whistle as well. Since then, Giada’s mom and dad have purchased 90 whistles for their daughter, who has handed them out to classmates who asked for them.

“They told me, actually some of my friends told me, that without the whistle they would be lost, and they feel more safe with the whistle,” Giada said.

Rapoport tried to talk to the school district about Giada’s claims, but the superintendent of schools declined to do an on-camera interview.

Instead, it sent a statement reading in part “While the Hackensack Board of Education cannot speak on this matter due to student confidentially, student safety and security is an ongoing critical priority.”

While Giada said she’s still scared to go to school sometimes, and still crosses path with her alleged bully, she has found a way to protect herself.

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