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Bullying in the Middle School

Bullying in the Middle School

Related Tags: 6-8 Middle School
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Bullying comes in many different forms, and by middle school the damage that a bully can inflict can last for a lifetime. For some kids the bullying is an extension of that which occurred in elementary school. For others, it begins in middle school, when the differences in sizes, shapes, and personalities become more evident, gaining more attention from peers and schoolyard enemies.

For middle schoolers, the internal conflict of "Who am I? Am I the same as everyone or different from everyone?" takes on an external nature and, at times, manifests itself in bullying.

But are we doing enough to combat the different forms of bullying? Does the staff at your school know what forms bullying takes, where bullying occurs (both on and off campus), and what their role in fighting bullying is?

Are students at ease in finding an adult to confide in?

Do students really know what bullying is, or do they "suck it up" and keep quiet because it's "just the way things are?"

For that matter, do teachers feel it's just the way things are, or worse, do teachers bully as well?

What happens when the formally oppressed become the tormentors? Does that change how a school reacts to a bully?

It is our duty as teachers to look at ourselves clearly and honestly to help find answers to these questions. It is our responsibility to keep these students safe in our care as well as to help them achieve. And, let's face it, a frightened student does not an achiever make.

Join in the discussion and share your thoughts, anecdotes, and solutions.

-Heather WG

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Comments (60)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture

Solving problems, not just venting about them is what VLCs are all about. And this very thread is an example of just that. It's amazing how bullying natures are everywhere in every industry. For that reason, some people believe that it's just a matter of fact and that victims need to somehow grow up and live with it.

But it's because we work in schools that makes it even more unacceptable. Teachers shouldn't bully other teachers (the elephant on the table here that nobody yet has mentioned), teachers should bully students, students shouldn't bully students, etc...

But bullying, as many of us have said already, is trickle down. If we don't get the adults on board, whether it's through training or consequences, then the kids they produce or the kids they teach will be bullies.

We've had some resources suggested, and I look forward to exploring them all. Any other suggestions anyone out there can think of?

-Heather WG

PS Incidentally, check out the discussion thread that I began last night which is a spin off of this one: What Does the Perfect Teacher Prep Program Look Like? Please throw your hat in the ring!

MDavis's picture

The worst part of the bullying is those students who commit suidcide because of it. It took two deaths to have the legistature in MA to pass an anti bullying act and have now made the principals more accountable.
Furthermore, parents in those two communities are upset, not because the kids killed themselves as much as how will other people view their communities. It should be mandatory that parents attend sessions were they can be made aware of what to look for if their child is being bullied and what to do. Unfortunately most parents are not aware of the situation till it's too late.

Joe Brown's picture

Wow, where to start.

MDavis, what Ma is facing, with the death of two young lives, is both sad and rampant. Florida has had several instances and has also passed an Anti-Bullying Law. Colombine is just one dreadful example of the violent reactions of some kids who are bullied. Those are the two extremes, those kids that think the bullies are right so they kill themselves, the other end are those kids that think the bullies are wrong and should be killed. Yet, there are thousands along the continuum waiting for the bullying to end.

Though I can't agree with the tone, I can agree that some parents need help in helping their kids. The underlying assumption in that post was that bully kids come from bully parents. Parents do need help in helping to raise self-reliant, compassionate kids. I applaud Patrick for your endeavors to this end.

At my school this coming Wednesday, we are having a parent kick-off night for the Olweus program. And our school does not have a bullying problem when compared to national number on the Olweus survey. But, as Principal, I say that even if one child does not feel like he/she belongs, then we have a problem.

We have only scratched the surface when it comes to defining the bullying problem. This topic will be the headlines for a long time. But it will take a collaborative home-school effort to overcome this problem.

Sorry for the length.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture

What you said was dead on. No apologies for such eloquence allowed here. Thanks for adding yet another resource to aid us as we all try to solve this huge problem for such a vulnerable age group.

Thanks for commenting.

-Heather WG

MDavis's picture

The indiments have come down today for the ones responsible for what happened to of the students. They are not saying much but this we do know, the parents didn't bully the ones that did it. The students came from good homes. One thing they are saying is something happened in the library in front of a teacher and other students and no one did anything.
The assumption that students who bully were probably bullied at home, I don't buy. Working in the middle school for over twenty five years, more times then not the bullying was because of boy/girl problems, someone looking different etc. Parents are in denial, think how many times a teacher calls home and the parent backs the student not the teacher. With the increase of cell phones and computers this is not going to go away I'm afraid.

Patrick McMillan's picture
Patrick McMillan
Single dad (2 boys, 12 yrs & 9 yrs) Denver, Colorado

In an earlier comment I made, I do need to clarify that I did not mean to infer that a child bullies because he is bullied at home by his parents, though I do know it occurs. There are many factors involved as to why a child, or teenager would bully others (here "bully" is meant in its broadest of terms) and bullying at home does not necessarily mean the child himself is being bullied. I am aware of a sixth grader in particular who has been in trouble for bullying, among other inappropriate behaviors many times over the past couple of years, and I also know both his parents personally who went through a vicious divorce. The bullying that boy witnessed between his two most important caregivers for several years of his young life I believe contributed greatly to his behavioral issues at school, even though he is the apple of both his parents eyes and to them both he is an angel. This is just one example of how our behavior as parents and teachers deeply influences our children's behavior, not to mention instills beliefs about how one ought to be toward others. Again, my belief is that we need to be the people we want to see in our kids.

Kind of sounds like the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi "Be the change you want to see in the world"

When I look back at my life as a kid, and I think about the role models I had as parents, I think to myself as a parent now and ask myself how do I want to be remembered by my kids? Do I want to be remembered by my own children as a great role model who inspired them to be all they can be and to be good to others? Um, YES!

I have asked many grown ups if they can recall any of their elementary, middle or high school teachers? The answers are always "yes" and very interesting as you might imagine. As a teacher you might want to ask yourself the same question, then ask yourself how do you want to be remembered by hundreds and hundreds of grown ups 20, 30 or 50 years from now?

I have the deepest respect for teachers! What an incredible profession to have such a huge impact on our future and the lives of so many people.

Thank you for doing what you do!!

susan donnelly's picture

as a teacher and a parent I m really interested in this thred about bullying Im going to the website regarding resources and tools about bullying and taking a stand as a victim I pray my skills translates well in my future classes and with my daughters thank you

Patrick McMillan's picture
Patrick McMillan
Single dad (2 boys, 12 yrs & 9 yrs) Denver, Colorado

Hi Susan, I have been researching resources and tools for quite some time and I have links to many on my website (www.kidscandoanything.com) I highly encourage you to check out Izzy Kalman's www.Bullies2buddies.com for your daughter. His material was very helpful to my middle-schooler when he found himself being the victim.
I am working on having him as a guest speaker in October for the Happier Kids Now! event. (www.happierkidsnow.com)

All the best!

Bob Sullo's picture
Bob Sullo
author, educational consultant

Bullying is such an emotionally-laden topic because its very nature is so distasteful. I developed a workshop entitled "We Don't Have Bullies Here" that helps develop a culture that diminishes bullying behavior. One important and helpful issue for me is to remember that all behavior (even irresponsible behavior) like bullying is purposeful, engaged in to satisfy basic human needs. A second issue is the notion that everyone is doing the best they can. Yes....that includes the bullies. Maintaining this mindset allows me to remain in the role of teacher rather than settling for the role of enforcer. My role is to teach children with inadequately developed skills how to meet their needs responsibly without resorting to harmful behaviors like bullying. When we create environments (school, classroom, home, community) where kids can get what they need without bullying, it virtually disappears. (If you want a bit more information about the session I offer, go to the "presentations" page of my website: www.internalmotivation.net I hope this helps...

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