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Gainesville teen has message for other victims of cyberbullying

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Devon Gainey, a rising senior at Gainesville's Eastside High, has experienced bullying for years.

“In middle school and high school I used to go to school sometimes and sit in class and they would talk about me the way I dressed and all this stuff,” Gainey said.

Insults soon turned to violence.

“In middle school were the physical strikes, I got punched in the face for no reason,” he said.

Experts say cyberbullying doesn't end just because school is out for the summer, especially since teens are attached to their devices all day long.

“We found that 50 percent of teens have experienced cyberbullying and the large majority of that didn’t tell their parents," said Karen McAllister, lead PR manager for AT&T, which is trying to combat cyberbullying.

Devon told his parents and, on their advice, didn't hit back; but as it continued his grades and confidence began to drop.

"I attempted suicide and I found that it wasn’t the way to go because I found that I had a future ahead of me,” he said.

A survey by nobullying.org says 95 percent of teens witnessed bullying on social media but didn't report it. Experts say the best way for parents to prevent it is to be open with their children.

"It was brought to my attention that i really need to pay more attention to what's going on and I’m the type of parent that always asks questions," Devon's mom, Latoya, said, "but it wasn’t until later where he came with this to us.”

Experts also suggest parents be in touch with their children's schools and seek out law enforcement if it gets worse.

Devon found happiness at a new school, Eastside, where he says the bullying has come to an end. He deleted all of his social media accounts and wrote a song to inspire others.

He has one message: "What I learned is how to overcome, no matter what people tell you. despite what they say or do, just know you have god and people can back you up and it’s not the end of the world."

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