Middle School

6th To 8th Grade

What is Bullying?

Did you know that according to research middle school is the most common age when bullying occurs? Bullying in Middle school can take many forms including:

  • Physical: tripping, hitting, hair pulling, biting, pinching, shoving
  • Verbal: name calling, spreading rumors or gossip, teasing, cut downs
  • social isolation: purposefully leaving someone out, ignoring them, giving them the silent treatment
  • cyber: bullying that takes place online
  • sexual: sexually touching someone, forcing them to have sex, telling lies about having sex with someone, or attacking a person's sexual identify, like call them "gay".

The difference between bullying and what is not bullying is that the bully uses power to intentionally cause harm to another person, and sometimes it happens over and over again. California ACLU created two documents about My school and My school rights as it relates to bullying, one in English (pdf) and one in Spanish (pdf). Stopbullying.gov is a great resource for information about bullying.

Bullying Facts:

  • Boys and Girls bully differently
  • Boys are more likely to get bullied physically, while girls are more likely to get bullied through rumors or exclusion.
  • Girls are more likely to bully in groups.
  • Boys are mostly bullied by boys, but girls are bullied by both boys and girls.
  • Cyberbullying is when bullying happens online, so not all bullying happens in person.
  • The Illinois Youth Survey (pdf) results for 2018 8th grade youth who responded indicated that in the past 12 month:
    • 44% been bullied at least once,
    • 34% had been called names,
    • 19% had received a threat to be hurt,
    • 12% had been physically bullied, and
    • 23% had been harassed, rumors, internet, or text messages.
    • 23% had been bullied based on appearance or a disability 1-2 time, 7% 3-5 times, and 12% 6 or more times.

Why do some kids bully?

There are many reasons why someone becomes a bully, it's never ok and there are things that can help the person change. Here are just a few:

  • Sometimes bullies don't understand that their behavior is wrong, they may lack empathy, kindness, compassion or respect.
  • Some kids bully as a way to protect themselves and feel like they are in control. They may be unhappy, fell they need to defend themselves, may have been abused or neglected.
  • TeensHealth indicates bullies may be: outgoing and aggressive, quiet and sneaky, or friendly and fake.

What do I do if I see someone being bullied?

The message is the same across age groups. Don't be a bystander, this doesn't mean you engage the bully in a physical way, no fighting. Use your words either by telling the bully to stop, they are being rude, or by telling a trusting adult. Use your feet and walk away. Sometimes we ask how do bullies pick their victim?

TeensHealth provides resources about this topic. The are available in English and Spanish.

What do I do if I'm being bullied?

There are many ways to get away from a bully and they don't change based on your age. Here is a resource to help you avoid being bullied.

  • Stop: ignore the bully, tell the bully to stop what they are doing is hurting your feelings.
  • Talk: tell a trusted adult this could be a parent, teacher, coach, or other adult with authority.
  • Walk: this might be the hardest, just walk away. While you are walking away hold your head up high and use your body language to send a message that you are strong and what they said didn't hurt you. Don't let on that you are vulnerable. There are ways to practice confidence (Confidence Spanish link) and to help you feel good about yourself.

What if I'm a bully myself? (What if I'm a bully myself? Spanish Link)

Sometimes we cause harm to others without meaning to it doesn't mean you are a bad person. You might be struggling with how to fit in because of peer pressure. Here are two quick quiz to help you discover if you are bullying others....

Being a bully is a problem, but there are ways to get help. Stomp out bullying is just one resource that can help. It's not easy to change behaviors, the first step is to recognize you have a problem and then take steps to get help.