Bianca Lawson may have a successful film and TV career these days, but during her school days as a teen in Los Angeles, she was the target of cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of her peers.
"I've had guns pulled on me. Large sharp things thrown at me. Really bad things," Pretty Little Liars' Lawson, 33, told Us Weekly at Monday's Bully premiere in Los Angeles. "People can be really, really cruel. [Bullying] is sad and it takes a while to get over."
As a self-described "loner," Lawson praises her parents for getting involved and helping her take a stand against her bullies.
"I've got amazing parents [who have] always maintained an open dialogue with me, so I felt like I could talk to them. They really empathized and validated my feelings," says the actress, who adds that her family put on a united front when confronting Lawson's school principal to stop her from being bullied.
Lawson believes the just-released Weinstein documentary Bully should be required viewing for teens as young as 13.
"Thirteen-year-olds are getting bullied, seeing other kids getting bullied and killing themselves because they don't know a way out," she reasoned. "Parents or teachers [may not] understand the psychological and emotional gravity [of bullying], because a lot of the time, kids don't communicate like an adult would. They don't say, 'I'm going through this. I'm at this point in my life where I'm thinking of doing these horrible things.'"
Furthers the actress: "[Adults] think, 'they're handling it,' or 'it's kids being kids,' not realizing that it's destroying them."