AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- October is Bullying Prevention Month and local experts are weighing in on what to do if you or someone you know needs help.

“When we can really work in that business of prevention, we’re getting a lot closer to solving the issue,” AU Director of Harris Literacy Center Betsy VanDusen said.

It’s an issue Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center says impacts one in every five students in the U.S.

“When we see something, saying something about it so that we’re visible, so that we have each other’s back, that whether it’s going into a restroom, that we have people that a student will feel safe to go to the restroom between classes,” Columbia County Schools Associate Superintendent Penny Jackson said.

NewsChannel 6 sat down with local Child Psychologist Layla Boyd to talk about the impacts bullying can have on a student or child’s mental health. 

“… talk about their experience in being very scared to go to school, scared to get involved to get into extracurricular activities, but the thing that concerns me the most that they tell me is the anxiety that develops…,” Boyd said.

And within the local school system administrators are making sure they can break down the barriers of stress in the classroom setting.

“Let’s Talk Forum, it goes along with our theme that we’ve had– for the last two years– of safety being a shared responsibility and really trying hard to get the parents involved in providing education to our students,” Jackson said.

36% of children living in Richmond County live in poverty and some I spoke with say almost anything can be a reason for bullying. That’s why organizations like the HUB do what they do.

“The term HUB really stands for hear, understand and belong, and that’s what we want to do here in this community by offering– each one of us offers unique services– but then coming together as a whole. That’s always been the synergy of the HUB and the prime focus,” VanDusen said.  

The first community forum begins Thursday evening at Grovetown High School.  The rest of those forum dates and times are as follows:

October 19, 2023, at Grovetown High School, November 16, 2023, at Evans High School, February 22, 2024, at Harlem High School, March 21, 2024, at Lakeside High School.

Each forum will include topics on School safety, bullying, and gang and drug prevention.