Columbus, Ga (WRBL) – The new school year can be exciting for students, but school isn’t always a friendly and kind place for some kids. According to the website, 20% of students reported being bullied at school. From those victims, 24% females reported being bullied while it was just 17% male students.

For students targeted by bullies, 41% believed they would be bullied again. However, just 46% of students reported any incident of bullying to an adult. This kind of abuse can be done in many ways. Dr. Albert Eaton, from Piedmont Columbus Regional, described the main goal of a bully.

“Bullying is about trying to change your perception of you or them or something. And you don’t have to believe it. Just because it comes out of their mouth it doesn’t mean it’s real. You don’t have to live up to their expectations. It’s a good time to step back and set your own expectation about what you want to be, how you want to live your life, and begin asking those big questions that you’re probably going to ask the rest of your life,” said Dr. Eaton.

Again, the statistic that could cause concern for parents is that less than half of students will tell any adult about bullying at school. Dr. Eaton shares some tips on what parents or adults can look for in a trouble student.

“Listen to the kids. Pay attention to the kids. Look for changes. So, if your child is really talkative then suddenly becomes quiet, pay attention. If they’re always quiet and they suddenly become talkative about things you don’t know about, pay attention. If they [have a] change in appetite, change in sleep, change in all those things, start talking to them. Ask them about what’s going on and be persistent,” said Dr. Eaton.

Even if the adult continues to ask questions, a child may continue down a dangerous path. If these warning signs continue, or even get worse, Dr. Eaton believes it could be time to get professional help.

“If you start seeing real problems, so they start really kind of withdrawing. They don’t talk. They start acting out, so they become irritable and angry. I would say get some help. Go to a professional and find out what’s really going on. You may start with the school counselor and work your way up to your family doctor and work your way up even to a psychologist or a psychiatrist,” said Dr. Eaton.