A New Breed Of Bully: A WAFF 48 News Special Report

By Jim Abath- bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Bullying affects many teens in schools across the country. For Daniel Walker, it started early.

"My 6th grade year, I got a trash can dumped on my head and got gum in my hair," said Daniel.

A self-professed scrawny boy, Daniel says he was bullied all the time.

"It was kind of nightmarish," said Daniel. "Middle school was probably the worst part of my life."

In the U.S., about 30 percent of teenage boys and girls say they've either been the bully or a victim. Physical cases of bullying can often be seen in young teenagers, but there are other, far more subtle forms.

"I think in high school, it's more like verbal stuff," said Madison Rolling, a sophomore at Bob Jones High School. "Like people saying mean stuff or laughing."

"If I go to the bathroom, some of the girls, they talk about each other in there," added sophomore Nicole Thompson.

These days, far more of that gossip is read rather than heard, in texts and e-mails and on Facebook pages.

"I know some people who, if they're really mad at someone, they've gone and commented on their wall and said, like, really mean stuff," said Rolling. "I mean, you can delete it, but you still see it.

"A lot of times, people don't know stuff they say really does hurt people," said senior Colton Beavers.

David Stephens with the Trinity Counseling Center hears about it every week from college students who were bullied back in elementary school.

"I've seen adults that still feel the effect of bullying," said Stephens. "And I have some who have been bullies in the workplace because they were bullied.

Going from victim to bully is just one of the possibilities. According to the American Medical Association, bullying can lead to lots of other problems for victims - depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

[Click here for bullying information from AMA (PDF)]

So, what can you do about it? Some parents voiced concerns on WAFF 48's Facebook Page about their children being bullied. Some worried that school systems don't take it seriously enough.

School systems, though, say they take bullying very seriously. We checked with several in the Valley, and they insist they take bullying seriously.

"I would urge them to contact the local principal," said Madison City Schools superintendent Dee Fowler. "We're committed to do our best to eliminate this."

Fowler says parents should start with the teacher.

"Sometimes, it's not that easy," said Ryan Rees, a senior at Bob Jones High School. "If they're really picking on you or doing stuff you find embarrassing to yourself, why would you go tell a teacher and relive that?"

We asked middle schoolers what they would do and they said they would find a teacher or another adult they really trust.

"Somebody's going to listen," said Kendyl Waddell, an 8th grader at Discovery Middle School. "Just see who's going to listen."

Daniel Walker, now a college student, is still being bullied, but he's found that advice works.

"The best way to deal with it is to make light of it, joke about it," said Walker. "They don't have the power over me anymore if I don't give them the power to make me afraid."

Copyright 2011 WAFF. All rights reserved.