LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - Most schools in South Georgia will open next week, and one community is gathering together now to discuss a problem that not only distracts children from learning but can create long-lasting problems.
The annual Back to School Bash is tonight at the Lee County High School. This year, officers with the Leesburg Police Department invited a bullying expert to educate parents on just what bullying is, and what it isn't. Police told us they have seen a problem with parents and students not understanding what constitutes bullying.
DeKalb County's Safe Schools Coordinator Dr. Quentin Fretwell, who speaks on this topic across the Southeast, was invited to educate parents and said research and experience shows the problem of bullying often starts at home.
"Bullying is a learned behavior, it's not something that kids are born with. They don't come out of the womb going, ahhh, I'm going to bully. You learn it, so learning is a societal issue, not so much just a school issue," said Fretwell. "Bullying is an intentional act to hurt someone. It is a power issue. It is the intent to hurt you emotionally, physically, verbally, over time."
Dr. Fretwell is in South Georgia tonight to shed light on a subject he says has gotten confused. "It is to bring people to an understanding of what bullying is and what bullying isn't. It actually has become the term of the day."
A catch-phrase that can mistakenly become a catch-all. "Bullying is not two kids who have a mutual conflict against each other, it's not two kids having a problem with each other, maybe even getting into a fight and one gets bested by the other."
Bullying is more than calling someone a name. It's to isolate, take control, and bullying happens over time. "My goal is to make me feel more powerful by making you fell less powerful."
Dr. Fretwell says the power lies in adults having an appropriate response to bullying, not telling kids to just blow it off, but addressing the problem each and every time. "I think the key thing is schools, all schools, take it seriously."
Fretwell said adults have the responsibility to be role-models to children for behavior, and it's something that must be taken seriously.