Researchers have recently confirmed that bullying behavior intensifies in middle school. Verbal, physical, and cyber bullying behavior was studied by researchers from the University of California, Riverside. The behaviors were compared between English and non English speakers. Findings were published in the School Psychology Quarterly.
1,180 students in fifth to eighth grade were analyzed by the researchers both for victim and bullying behavior over the course of three semesters in Midwestern Schools in the United States. The focus was on identifying who was the victim and who was doing the bullying as students aged. Previous studies had looked at single age groups over a period of time. Wang and her team expanded on these observations, to see what the connections were as they aged.
“School-based interventions need to address the differences in perpetrator and victim experiences,” said the study’s coauthor Cixin Wang, an assistant professor at the university’s Graduate School of Education, in a press release. “The key is to use individualized specific interventions for bullying, not a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Cyber bullying increases as students age, particularly in girls. To no surprise, they found that overall, regardless of the age group, girls were more likely to experience verbal and cyber bullying than boys, while boys were more likely to be physically bullied. The researchers also found there was no difference between a student’s main language and how often they were bullied.
Older students were more likely to engage in bullying, which is why in-school and parental intervention between these ages, before they transition into middle school, should be the focus. Adults should be taught social-emotional learning skills to approach students in a healthy and effective way. Girls need to be the focus when it comes to a verbal lashing, whether in-person or online, while the focus on boys needs to be in a physical manner before they age into a vicious cycle.