Special Report: Bullying

Angela Dawson is a psychiatrist with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital / Ashley Knight

60% of middle school students nationwide say they are being bullied and the problem is getting so serious that therapists and school counselors want to get the word out in hopes that it will put an end to this dilemma.

At first glance, Willie Adams appears to be a very successful man--a two-term mayor of Albany, Georgia. But you would never guess that he was bullied as a child.

"As I reflect back now, the people we had trouble with throughout our lives, we became friends. It was not a life or death situation as it appears to be now," said Adams.

Mayor Willie Adams, who is also a doctor at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, says that while bullying today is nothing like it was years ago, children still need a strong adult figure to turn to.

"But now it's gotten to the point that kids are missing school because of bullying, they get to the point kids are committing suicide and certainly we cannot approve of that."

Barbara Turner with student support services in the Dougherty County School System says children feel there is a stigma if they tell an adult they are being bullied.

"Sometimes they feel that if they speak up, they will be labeled and children are concerned about what they are called because many times they will have to live with these labels forever," said Turner.

Sometimes knowing where the bullying is coming from may help guard against it.

"Bullying is all about inflicting pain. If I'm not feeling well, if I'm in pain, then there's a tendency to create pain for someone else," said Turner.

Psychiatrist Angela Dawson says parents can sometimes fly off the handle when they hear the news that their son or daughter has become a victim.

"When their emotions are involved, they become extremely upset, that can result in either not being able to handle other authority figures such as school personnel or officers of the law," said Dawson.

And unfortunately, parents don't have many resources to go to or instructions in how to react.

"There aren't really a lot of classes or opportunities for either adults or children to learn this and there are no gateway avenues, what do you do when your child is bullied? We don't have that in place."

First and foremost--children need to tell adults, and more than one.

"It needs to be more than one. There needs to be both parents and wherever it occurs, if it's occurring at school, then yes, the school needs to be active and involved," said Dawson.

And they stress a calm attitude when listening to your child.

"But let the child know that we can handle this, because you don't want that child failing to go to school because of fear," said Turner.

"If they come across as too strong or too upset, the kids' gonna wish they hadn't said anything," said Dawson.

Authorities say there's no quick fix for this problem, just talk to your child calmly, ask questions, and talk with school officials.

Be sure to tune in next Wednesday when fox 31 will have another special report that ties into this same subject.