Bullying in Middle School: What it Is, Why it Happens and How to Spot It (2023)

What is Bullying

5 Common Cat Behaviours And What Th...

5 Common Cat Behaviours And What They Mean

Bullying is a form of peer victimization displayed as intentional harassment that occurs repetitively, over a period of time. A key factor to bullying is an imbalance of power, meaning bullies pick on others who have difficulty defending themselves. Bullying can take the form of verbal abuse such as teasing or the spreading of rumors, physical assaults such as pushing, pulling hair, kicking or hitting, sexual harassment or social exclusion.

Harassment can also occur though text messaging on cell phones. Cyberbullying is another form of bullying that occurs over the Internet. A victim of cyberbullying may be teased or threatened through email or online chat. They also may have vicious rumors spread about them on social networking sites. Bullies may post embarrassing pictures of videos on the Internet or send them through picture messaging on cell phones with the intent to harass and humiliate the victim.

There is limited data on how many children are victims of bullying. A 2001 study published in “The Journal of the American Medical Association” looked at data on 15,686 children throughout the United States who had been surveyed on the subject of bullying. The data showed that 29.9 percent of school age children were involved in bullying in some way. Because children often do not report bullying to teachers or parents, it is possible that the percentage of children involved in bullying is even higher than 29.9 percent.

Why Bullying is So Prevalent in Middle School

Middle school children are at the age where they are transitioning from being a child to an adolescent. At this age, children have the strongest desire to be accepted, make friends and be part of a group. They feel pressure to act and look like their peers. With all of the attention paid to accepted appearance and behavior among their peers, middle schoolers easily spot children who are different and do not fit the so-called “norm” of their school. Bullying others also can be a way to fit into a group or the “cool” crowd.

Effects of Bullying

The harmful effects of bullying are the most severe in the victims, but bullies and witnesses to bullying are also harmed.

Victims of Bullying

Children who are bullied may experience a decrease in academic performance, decreased school attendance, health problems such as stomach-aches and headaches, difficulty sleeping, lowered self-esteem, anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicidal thoughts. Depression and low self-esteem in victims of bullying is long-lasting, often carrying over into adulthood, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Bullies are more likely to display antisocial and violent behavior in other aspects in their lives. They are more likely to do poorly in academics, skip school, drop out of school, get into physical fights, use drugs, drink alcohol, commit theft, vandalize property and carry a weapon.

Witnesses to Bullying

Children who witness bullying may feel afraid that they will become the next target. They also may feel guilty for not stepping in and helping the bullying victim. These feelings can cause the witnessing children to become distracted from schoolwork, leading to poor academic performance. They also may learn to think of school as a negative and unpleasant environment.

Why Children Bully

There are many possible causes of bullying. Some children learn to become bullies by watching bullying behavior exhibited by their family members. Insecurity is another cause of bullying. Children may bully others in an attempt to fit in with the cool crowd at school. Insecure children may compensate for their feelings of inferiority by picking on others. Children who are the victims of bullying may also become bullies themselves as an attempt to make themselves feel better. Some children bully simply because they like the way it feels to have a position of power over others.

Identifying Bullies and the Bullied

Because children often do not report bullying behavior, it is important as a teacher to identify bullies and those being bullied. Bullying sometimes happens in the classroom, but it also happens in the playground, school hallways and on the way to and from school. Because teachers don’t always witness bullying, it can be difficult to detect when there is a problem. Teachers need to observe student behavior for warning signs of a problem.

Children of all races and from all socio-economic backgrounds bully. Both boys and girls can be bullies or victims of bullying. Bullies are more commonly boys and they tend to harass both boys and girls. Girls on the other hand, tend to only harass other girls. No child is immune from bullying. However, children who look different, act different or who have physical or mental disabilities are more often the target of bullies.

Identifying Victims of Bullying

Signs that a student may be a victim of bullying include depression, withdrawing from social activities, social exclusion, frequent complaints of not feeling well, frequent crying, moody behavior, truancy, frequently claiming possessions were lost, their possessions are often getting broken, bringing weapons to school for protection, complaining about getting picked on and talking about running away from school or home.

Identifying Bullies

It can be hard to identify bullies when the harassing behavior is not done inside the classroom. There are certain traits bullies tend to exhibit that teachers can keep an eye out for in students. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identifies the following traits as commonly exhibited by bullies: impulsiveness, becoming frustrated easily, trouble following rules and a lack of empathy.

How to Stop Bullying

There are three main steps to stopping bullying: prevention, identification and action.


There are several methods teachers, school counselors, school administrators, bus drivers and other school staff can all help prevent bullying.

  • Establish school rules on bullying. Post signs in the classrooms, restrooms, hallways and playgrounds that clearly state what behaviors are unacceptable and will not be tolerated, as well as consequences that will be taken if the rules are broken.

  • Increase staff supervision in hallways, playgrounds, the cafeteria and other areas where bullying is likely to occur.

  • Devote class time each week for anti-bullying activities to teach students what bullying behavior is, why it is wrong and what to do if bullying occurs. Some anti-bullying classroom activities include reading short stories or watching movies that have a bullying theme, followed by an open classroom discussion, or have the students fill out anonymous question cards that the teacher can offer answers to for the class.


A study conducted in the year 2000 by Queens University and York University found that less than 50 percent of bullying victims reported the harassment to their teachers and approximately 19 percent of students had little confidence that their teachers would help them. The most likely reason students failed to report bullying and believed teachers wouldn’t help is the failure of the teachers to detect the bullying.

Increasing staff supervision and looking for behavior signs commonly found in bullies and bullying victims are good ways to detect bullying problems. There are other tools teachers and school staff can use as well to detect bullying in the school. Don’t underestimate parent teacher conferences as a tool to detect harassment. Students often tell parents about bullying, rather than teachers. Parents may also mention home behaviors that may identify bullying.

Another important tool for teachers is talking with students. When signs of bullying behavior are present in a student, teachers should pull the child aside for a calm discussion. Examples of good questions to ask are, “Who do you sit with at lunchtime?” or “How does it make you feel when somebody calls you names?”


Intervention is one of the most important tools to stop bullying. Failure to take action against bullying does two things, besides allowing the harassment to continue. One, students are more likely to fail to report bullying if they think that school staff won’t help them. Two, bullies are likely to continue bullying activity when they see that there are no consequences. Always take action when bullying behavior is exhibited, even less-serious offenses. The mindset that a little name calling is just fun play among children, is wrong. What seems like harmless play to outsiders can have devastating emotional consequences to the children affected.

Bullying by Teachers and Other Adults

There has been little research on the subject of teachers and adults bullying students. With the little research that has been conducted, it is clear that some teachers and other adults do bully students. A survey conducted by Wittenberg University in 2005 showed that it may indeed be common for teachers to bully students. Students who are bullied by teachers often feel trapped and helpless. The authority figure that is supposed to protect them is the one that is victimizing them. Not knowing where to turn, students may not tell anyone. It is important for teachers and other school staff to be observant of other educator’s behavior and to report offenses.


  • The Journal of the American Medical Association; Bullying Behavior Among US Youth - Prevalence and Association With Psychosocial Adustment; Tonja R. Nansel, PhD et. al; 2001
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; All About Bullying; http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adults/why-should-adults-care.aspx
  • SAMSHA; Bullying Affects All Middle School Kids; http://www.samhsa.gov/scienceandservice/mhp2008.aspx
  • Teachers Who Bully Students: Patterns and Policy Implications [9520]; Allen McEvoy, Wittenberg University, Ohio
  • American Psychological Association; APA Resolution on Bullying Among Children and Youth; 2004
  • School Psychology International; Observations of Bullying in the Playground and the Classroom; Wendy M. Craig, Debra Pepler, Rona Atlas; Queens University, York University; 2000


What is the 6 step on the spot intervention? ›

Step 6: Take steps to make sure the student who was bullied will be protected from future bullying. Plan a follow-up meeting with the stu- dent who was bullied and his or her parents (as appropriate).

What are the causes and effects of bullying essay? ›

In conclusion, there are several causes of bullying such as rage, increased anger, revenge, jealousy and the urge to be in control. On the other hand, bullying has several severe effects such as self-destruction behaviors, development of nervous habits, and the risk of developing anxiety or depression or both.

What are the 6 R's of bullying prevention? ›

The 6Rs of bullying prevention: Rules, Recognize, Report, Respond, Refuse, and Replace, are not a program, but a comprehensive process for reducing bullying from the inside out, involving the entire school community.

What are the three R's of bullying prevention? ›

The 3 R's To Bullying Prevention for Students with Special Educational Needs: Recognize, Respond, and Report.

What are the 5 intervention strategies? ›

Let's take a look at the most commonly used intervention strategies:
  • Behavioural Interventions. ...
  • Collaborative Interventions. ...
  • One-to-One Interventions. ...
  • Classroom-Based Interventions. ...
  • Social, Emotional and Wellbeing Interventions. ...
  • Peer Tutoring. ...
  • Metacognition and Self-Regulation. ...
  • Homework.
Jul 9, 2021

What are the 5 steps to intervention in order? ›

Successful intervention begins with identifying users and appropriate interventions based upon the patient's willingness to quit. The five major steps to intervention are the "5 A's": Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange.

What interventions stop bullying? ›

Target interventions typically include teaching social skills such as friendship, assertiveness and anger management skills. Interventions for targets may be done one-on-one or in a support group. Targets should not be re-victimized by bring the target and perpetrator together to try to resolve the situation.

What is the 6 Rs example? ›

6Rs: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair

These are all useful terms to explore reducing the impact of technology on people and the environment.

What is anti-bullying movement? ›

The anti-bullying movement is an organized effort to combat bullying. A timeline of the history of the anti-bullying movement began after the Columbine Massacre of 1999.

What are the 3 R's taught in school? ›

Like many of you, I presume, I grew up hearing and learning about the all important "3 R's" of education—Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

What are the 3 Rs that we can use to respond to student behavior? ›

We refer to these processes as the 3R's of Early Learning: Relationships, Repetition, Routines ™. These processes are important because they focus on how children learn in addition to what they learn.

What are examples of anti bullying policies? ›

Statement of Intent

As a school we take bullying and its impact seriously. Bullying of any form is not tolerated in our school, whether carried out by a child or an adult. Staff, children and parents or carers will be made aware of the school's position on bullying. Bullying behaviour is unacceptable in any form.

Is bullying a factor for depression? ›

In fact, one study finds that the consequences of childhood bullying, including depression, can persist even 40 years after the bullying occurred. Depression that results from bullying can cause a wide range of symptoms, and in extreme circumstances, bullying-induced depression can lead to suicide.

How effective is bullying prevention? ›

Research shows that both students and educators benefit from bullying prevention efforts. Results from a comprehensive and systematic review of research on the effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying show that they effectively reduce bullying by 20 to 23 percent and victimization by 17 to 20 percent.

What is the importance of bullying prevention? ›

A focus on preventing bullying is important, as is promoting positive actions such as kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. Bullying can be a factor leading to school violence and self-harm. Bullying affects witnesses as well as targets.

What are Tier 1 behaviors? ›

Tier I behavior supports are behavioral strategies that all students have access to. These interventions set the foundation for behavior in the classroom. Without them, teachers will not be prepared to incentivize positive behavior or respond to negative behavior.

What are the 12 principles of intervention? ›

The principles can be applied to techniques. These 12 principles include respect, rapport, joining, compassion, cooperation, flexibility, utilization principle, safety principle, generative change, metaphoric principle, goal orientation, and multi-level communication principle.

What are the most successful methods for intervention? ›

To help run a successful intervention:
  • Don't hold an intervention on the spur of the moment. ...
  • Plan the time of the intervention. ...
  • Do your homework. ...
  • Appoint a single person to act as a liaison. ...
  • Share information. ...
  • Stage a rehearsal intervention. ...
  • Anticipate your loved one's objections. ...
  • Avoid confrontation.

What are the five D's? ›

5Ds: Direct, Delegate, Delay, Distract and Document.

What are 4 types of intervention options? ›

2. Types of intervention
  • Vaccines. ...
  • Nutritional interventions. ...
  • Maternal and neonatal interventions. ...
  • Education and behaviour change. ...
  • Environmental alterations. ...
  • Vector and intermediate host control. ...
  • Drugs for the prevention of disease. ...
  • Injury prevention.

What are the 4 Rs of behavior intervention? ›

A good behavior plan will outline four primary components. The best way to think about and remember behavior intervention is through the 4 Rs: Reduce, Replace, Reinforce and Respond!

Are schools effective in stopping bullying? ›

According to research, they don't have much of an impact at all. In fact, bullying and anti-bullying efforts have almost synonymous results because both have negative effects on people's futures. As bullied children grow older, their social and emotional lives tend to be less content than people who were not bullied.

How can unity stop bullying? ›

Examples of how students can do this are:
  1. Support others who have been hurt or harmed.
  2. Treat others with kindness.
  3. Be more accepting of people's differences.
  4. Help include those who are left out.

What is the general objective of the study bullying? ›

Objective: Recognize and identify incidences of bullying and identify its various types, styles and forms. Contents: Strategies for Identifying Bully Behavior at School.

What are 5 R's examples? ›

The FIVE Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Rot, Recycle

And, really, the list goes on: refuse, repaint, repurpose, refurbish, reclaim...

What does 6rs mean? ›

Refuse to buy products that cannot be recycled or reused. Reduce - Cut down on the amount of products and services you use. Re-use - Take a product / item and repurpose it for a different item. Repair - Fix, don't replace your products. Recycle - Recycle what you cannot reduce, re-use or repair.

What are the example of 5rs techniques? ›

  • Give unwanted toys and books to hospitals or schools.
  • Put unwanted clothes in used clothing bins.
  • Use plastic containers for freezing or storing food items.
  • Save wrapping paper and boxes to use again.
  • Use old jars for storage.
  • Take old magazines to your local doctor's or dentist's surgery.

Why is pink anti-bullying? ›

Pink Shirt Day began in 2007 when a student in Nova Scotia was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. It has since been recognized annually worldwide as a day to stand against bullying. Pink Shirt Day encourages Albertans to be inclusive, welcoming and supportive with colleagues, clients, friends and family.

What act shall be known as the Anti-Bullying Act? ›

Republic Act No. 10627 or the "Anti-Bullying Act of 2013" is a relatively new law which seeks to address hostile environment at school that disrupts the education process which, in turn, is not conducive to the total development of a child at school.

What is the theme for anti-bullying? ›

What is the theme for Anti-Bullying Week 2023? The theme for Anti-Bullying Week 2023 is 'Reach Out'. Teachers and children wanted a theme that empowered them to do something positive to counter the harm and hurt that bullying causes. The theme of Reach Out aims to encourage children to speak out about bullying.

What are the steps in intervention design? ›

How do you develop an intervention?
  • Decide what needs to happen. ...
  • Use a measurement system to gather information about the level of the problem. ...
  • Decide who the intervention should help. ...
  • Involve potential clients or end users of the intervention. ...
  • Identify the issues or problems you will attempt to solve together.

What are the steps of components of an intervention? ›

Key Steps of an Intervention
  • 1: Formulate The Plan. If you or a family member propose an intervention you will first want to form a planning group. ...
  • 2: Collect Information. ...
  • 3: Decide What To Communicate. ...
  • 4: Hold The Family Intervention.
Aug 2, 2022

How many steps are there for intervention? ›

The five-step system describes our internal thought patterns when deciding whether or not to intervene.

What is an intervention checklist? ›

The intervention checklist is a guide for preparing an intervention to get a person into appropriate treatment. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the book Love First or a professional interventionist. Don't plan an intervention using the checklist alone.

What are the four major interventions? ›

As stated above, there are four main groups of OD interventions: human process interventions, techno-structural interventions, human resource management interventions, and strategic change interventions. Let's dive into examples of organizational development interventions from each of the groups.

What are the 5 components of a behavior intervention plan? ›

The essential components of a BIP are as follows: • a detailed description of the behavior; • summary statement describing the function of the behavior; • interventions used and their results; • behavioral goals; • plan for teaching and supporting the new behavior, including a crisis intervention plan (if needed); • ...

What is the very first step in behavior intervention? ›

The first step in the development of a behavior intervention plan is the creation of an objective and concrete definition of the behavior. This is necessary so that everyone understands exactly what the behavior looks like when it occurs.

What is an example of a behavioral intervention plan? ›

For example: seating child near teacher with back to classroom when doing seat work; picture sequence chart on desk that outlines class schedule to help with transitions; allow for oppor- tunities to move around; nonverbal cues and signals. Targeted Positive Behaviors to Increase.

What is basic intervention? ›

A variety of basic actions can be used to prevent and control infections. WHO's guidelines on core components of infection prevention and control programmes promote the implementation of standard precautions such as[17]: Hand hygiene.

What are the three types of interventions? ›

3 Common Types of Intervention Techniques
  • Intervention Technique #1: The Johnson Model.
  • Intervention Technique #2: Invitational Intervention Technique.
  • Intervention Technique #3: Family Systemic Intervention.
  • Find the Best Intervention Techniques with Bridge The Gap.
Sep 3, 2021

What are the three areas of intervention? ›

As shown in the figure below, three levels of intervention (primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) are available to support students. These levels reflect the same organizational framework applied in public health and community psychology intervention planning.

How long should students be in intervention? ›

The exact amount of time will vary based on student age and needs, but it's wise to plan for intervention to occur 4-5 days/week for 20-40 minutes. Trained instructors are also key; struggling readers need knowledgeable teachers!

What is an example of an intervention? ›

Examples include tutoring, facilitator-led classes or workshops, one-on-one coaching, case management, electronic or telephone communication with participants, and sustaining the capacity of the organization implementing it.


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