Middle School Bullying: What You Need to Know

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To succeed in school, it is essential to feel safe. Beyond making kids feel unsafe, bullying also impacts students’ ability to learn, their physical and mental health, and can lead to more violent behavior.[1] In this post, we will take a closer look at bullying in middle schools and how educators can lead effective anti-bullying programs.

Bullying in Schools

Bullying in middle school is all too common. Physical bullying often increases in elementary school, peaks in middle school and then declines in high school.[2] Adolescence is often a time of peer pressure coupled with a need to fit in, seek acceptance, and be part of a group.[3] This can lead to bullying as students notice others that don’t look or behave like their peers – and target them for that difference through repeated intimidation or harassment. Bullying itself has a negative impact on students, but parents, teachers, and administrators may also notice an effect on academics, physical and mental health, and more.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying.org tells us that “cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly makes fun of another person online or repeatedly picks on another person through e-mail or text message or when someone posts something online about another person that they don’t like.” Cyberbullying can also include photos or messages on social media or apps where others can see them and participate in ongoing, harmful harassment. Although more and more states are recognizing this type of bullying, many do not take into account cyberbullying incidents that take place outside of school. Others may take note only when it begins to impact classroom performance.[4]

One study found that of those who were bullied online, 85% also had also been bullied at school. They also found the probability of getting bullied online was substantially higher for those who have been the victims of school bullying.[5]

Bullying Statistics

• 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.[6]

• 53% of students admitted to saying mean or hurtful things to someone online.[7]

• Approximately 160,000 students skip school every day because of bullying.[8]

• 58% of kids have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.[9]

• When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.[10]

What Do Bullies Look Like?

Anyone. There is no distinct profile of a bully or a casualty of bullying. Some who are bullied may be on the outer edges of their social circles – some bullies may also be in the same situation. Some who are bullied will in-turn bully others and are called bully-victims[11]. And it is these students who have a foot in both camps who often have the most significant risk for behavioral, mental health, and academic problems.[12]

Comprehensive research from UCLA has shown that one in five 12-year-olds are bullies or victims – or both – with bullies often being seen as the “cool” kids in class.[13] As part of this study on young adolescent bullying, perpetrators often had difficulties getting along with other students. Bullies enjoyed high social status where victims were social pariahs among their classmates. Interestingly, those who were both bullies and victims struggled the most among their peers exhibiting issues with school, friends, and behavior.[14]

Anti-bullying Programs

Research published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence suggests that “effective anti-bullying programs need to focus on the bystanders, who play a critical role and can either encourage or discourage bullying.”[15]

When parents, faculty, and staff consistently respond to bullying behavior, they make it clear that the conduct is not acceptable. By building a safe school environment, talking about bullying prevention, and creating a strategy to prevent and address bullying in the school, we can all make a difference.

Bullying solutions are not easy, but prevention research has shown that involving the entire school community can help create a “culture of respect.” This means getting everyone from students and families to administrators, faculty, and staff as well as bus drivers, nurses, cafeteria workers involved to illustrate a commitment to the cause.[16]

So, if you believe bullying is impacting your students and learning in your school, what can you do? Ask the tough questions.

Since 1980, Pride Surveys has been providing research-quality data for schools and communities to study bullying behaviors and student mental health. Our Social, Emotional and Bullying Behavior Survey collects data that assess middle school bullying perceptions and problem behaviors that affect student engagement. Using SEBBS, schools can determine the underlying causes of increased absenteeism, lower academic achievement, and increased substance abuse. The benefit of working with a survey company is that we can gather fact-based data and information through anonymous and effective survey tools. With this information, educators, parents, PTAs and coalitions are in a better position to fight bullying and secure future funding from a variety of sources to support their programs.

Please browse through the different types of student surveys we offer and find out why more than 14 million students, parents, and faculty members have responded to Pride Surveys. Questions? Please call us today at 800-279-6361 or fill out our quick online contact form.




[1] “Bullying Among Young Adolescents: The Strong, the Weak and the Troubled.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/112/6/1231

[2] “Bullying in the Early Teen Years.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at https://www.verywellfamily.com/bullying-in-early-teen-years-460485

[3] Ibid.

[4] “What is Cyberbullying?” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html

[5] “Bullying of teenagers online is common.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/bullying-of-teenagers-online-is-64265

[6] “Student Reports of Bullying and Cyber-Bullying: Results from the 2011 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013329.pdf

[7] “Cyber Bullying Statistics and Tips.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at https://www.isafe.org/outreach/media/media_cyber_bullying

[8] “11 Facts About Bullying.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-bullying

[9] Ibid.

[10] “Naturalistic Observations of Peer Bullying.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at http://bullylab.com/Portals/0/Naturalistic%20observations%20of%20peer%20interventions%20in%20bullying.pdf

[11] “When bullies get bullied by others: Understanding bully-victims” Retrieved October 2nd at https://www.parentingscience.com/bully-victims.html

[12] “Facts About Bullying.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at  https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html#ftn16

[13] “Bullying Experiences and Compromised Academic Performance Across Middle School Grades.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0272431610379415

[14] Ibid.

[15] “Can a school-wide bullying prevention program improve the plight of victims? Evidence for risk × intervention effects.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2016-03231-001

[16] “Facts About Bullying.” Retrieved 28 September 2018 at  https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html#ftn16

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