Middle School Ages
Middle school years are often considered a difficult time for children. Middle school is also one of the most common places for bullying to occur. Studies indicate that around 30% of students experienced more than occasional involvement as a bully and/or victim of bullying. Why?
- Children are transitioning from smaller schools to a larger school.
- Expectations for their learning and taking new responsibilities shift.
- New friend groups are forming.
- The onset of puberty, for many, creates body, mood and behavior changes.
- Children often don't have the skills to manage all of these changes.
Bullying increases at the end of elementary school, peaks in middle school and slows down in high school. This makes prevention and intervention during middle school years crucial.
The picture of bullying in middle school
- Turns less physically severe, but becomes more verbally abusive.
- Indirect bullying occurs more frequently. This includes cyberbullying and social bullying.
- Reactive bullying continues to occur.
- Children engage in both bullying and victim behavior. Sometimes, this occurs when a victim begins bullying because they are bullied.
What parents should watch for if concerned about middle school bullying
- Disconnecting from home and isolating self from peers
- Sudden loss of friends or disinterest in school events
- Somatic complaints (e.g. headache, stomachache)
- Sleep and/or appetite disturbances
- Declining school grades/quality of work
- Self-destructive behaviors or thoughts
- Suicidal talk/thoughts, depression, anxiety
- Running away from home
- Explosive moodiness beyond normal pubescent behavior