Well-meaning adults, Limber said, may think the bullying is a onetime occurrence and not take bullying claims as seriously.
"For some kids, bullying can leave some lasting scars," she said. "Kids who are bullied can have higher rates of depression and are at least more likely to talk about and take their own life."
In 1998, 13-year-old Jared High committed suicide after his mother said he became depressed from being assaulted and bullied in school several months earlier.
Brenda High, Jared's mother, took her son's Washington state school district to court for neglecting to discipline a known bully and eventually settled for $140,000 in damages.
"We found that teachers and administrators had absolutely no clue how to handle bullying," she said. "There was a mass of chaos and confusion when it came to bullying and how to handle it."
She successfully campaigned for the passage of the state's anti-bullying law.
High has since established Bully Police USA, an organization that advocates for states to pass legislation enforcing laws against bullying.
The Web site grades the 27 states that have anti-bullying policies and provides an example of a school anti-bullying policy.
In Kentucky, there is no statewide law that specifically targets bullying, but many school districts have policies that deal with harassment and school safety.
Still, the five girls say they hope their lawsuit helps other students who fear speaking up about bullying.
"We're not doing this for ourselves," said Charissa, who has a younger sister. "I don't want them to go through what we did."