Nick News Special to Highlight Anti-Gay Bullying

It's a subject middle-schoolers tackle in "Sticks, Stones & Cyberslams - a Nick News Special With Linda Ellerbee" that airs Sunday.

Real-life stories of bullying and the consequences prompted Emmy-winning journalist Ellerbee to create the special.

"For me, it was one week last year in which two little boys killed themselves," said Ellerbee, who is the creator, host and executive producer of the award-winning "Nick News," a news program for children and teens in which they discuss the issues of the world.

"And I remember reading both stories and, in my mind, trying to imagine an 11-year-old child tying a rope over something, getting up in a chair, putting the rope around his neck and standing there filled with such despair that he took a step off that chair ... and then I read where both were connected to bullying."

The introduction to the special leads off with Ellerbee reporting that, in the past 18 months, at least 10 kids "that we know of have killed themselves because of being bullied."

One was 13-year-old Texan John Carmichael. He was dumped in trash cans and had his clothes taken and hidden by bullies, said his friend, Lindsay, who says good night to his photo every night.

"Last March he hanged himself," she says in the show. "No one stood up for him. They just sat there and watched it happen."

Carl Walker Hoover, 11, was also targeted. His sister Dominique tells viewers "he was being called gay slurs because he didn't dress like everyone else."

"He always tucked in his shirt, wore a belt," she says. "He was a gentleman. I know there were some situations where he would tell my mom and she would go to school and the teachers would push it aside. Or they'd say, 'They're just kids being kids.' "

Last year, 15-year-old ninth-grader Phoebe Prince, who had moved from Ireland to South Hadley, Mass., was bullied enough that she took her own life.

"You can be targeted because you're tall, beautiful, short, awkward," says Barbara Coloroso, educator and author of "Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander," in the show. "Bullying is about treating another human being as an 'it.' Carl was called fag and queer and gay. Phoebe was called an Irish slut. It didn't matter what their sexual orientation was. It was a term used to make them into an 'it.' "