WAUSAU (WAOW) -- Bullying has quickly become a national focus. It takes place everywhere, and it has wide-ranging consequences.
An estimated 160,000 students miss school every day for fear of bullying. Some teens have committed suicide.
But bullying is not just happening at school. It could be taking place in your own home—without you even knowing about it.
A 12-year-old boy who attends middle school in North-Central Wisconsin sat down with Newsline 9's Daniel Woodruff to share his story. He doesn't want to reveal his identity because he's afraid the bullying he's experiencing at school will get worse.
"I don't feel, like, accepted at that school," said the boy, who says he says he gets hit, punched, and called names. "It feels bad because I keep on getting bullied."
And he says he doesn't see an end in sight. That's a feeling counselors say is common.
"Those kids are only thinking of what's happening today in their lives," said Dr. Connie O'Heron. "They can't foresee that they'll get out of school, get into regular adulthood, and not have these problems."
O'Heron works in Wausau where she counsels many children who are victims of bullying. She says bullying has been a problem for a long time, but recently more people have noticed it. High-profile incidents like teen suicides have helped thrust the issue into the national spotlight.
"I think it's a positive thing that we're addressing it, and we're addressing it seriously," said O'Heron.
Many school districts are getting on board.
The Wausau School District warns students they could be suspended or expelled for bullying.
"If we can't create that safe environment for kids to come into, the learning process is not going to be as effective as we'd like it to be," said Jeff Lindell, director of pupil services at the Wausau School District.
But bullying has taken other forms outside of school. One of them is cyber-bullying. And experts say it can be just as damaging.
"They start making negative comments about each other on the site or to each other," said O'Heron.
And parents may not even know it's happening.
"In order to help your child who's in a situation like that, is that you actually monitor their Facebook sites," said O'Heron.
Experts also recommend telling your children not to respond to cyber-bullies, blocking those bullies from Internet contact, and even calling the police if it gets too serious.
However bullying happens, experts say it leaves a mark. They say it makes victims feel less safe and less accepted, but still hoping that the bullying will end.