Bullying peaks during the middle school years. It’s a time of dramatic physical, emotional, intellectual, and social change. Teens are struggling to live up to their potential and establish a unique identity while navigating the uncharted waters of an ever-shifting social environment. You can help students chart their course by joining together to understand what bullying is—and isn’t—and developing prevention strategies to stand strong against it.
Discussion Group Questions: Bullying in Middle and High School
Experts agree that bullying conduct has three key characteristics: power, intent, and repetition. The bully has more power than his or her target. The bully decides to hurt the target through his or her words or actions. The bullying conduct happens more than once, or there is the threat it will happen again. If one of these characteristics is missing, the conduct is not bullying.
To open up the lines of communication, try these conversation starters:
- Which is worse: cyberbullying or bullying face-to-face?
- What is the difference between bullying and being mean?
- Is a person who sees bullying happen and does not speak up guilty of bullying?
- What would you change about your school’s procedure for reporting bullying?
- How would you expect a [parent, teacher, principal, etc.] to respond to a bullying report?
Tips & Tricks
Bullying has a negative impact on everyone it touches.
- Is your student a target? Be aware of changes in their emotions, actions, and habits. Physical injuries, loss of personal belongings, depression, or fear of school or other students may indicate a teen is being bullied. Let them know you support him or her 100%.
- Are your students a bystanders? Witnesses to bullying often exhibit similar changes as the targets themselves. Reassure them that it is okay to speak up.
- Is your student a bully? If they are exhibiting bullying tendencies, such as acting aggressively, speaking ill of other students, or intentionally excluding others, talk to him or her about the situation.
Plan & Practice
Help teens build confidence and develop assertive communication skills by discussing past, present, or potential bullying scenarios. Ask them to decide what they would do as the target, bully, or a bystander.
Think of a time when you or someone known to one of you:
- Had an embarrassing nickname
- Became afraid to go to school
- Avoided certain areas of school (stairwell, hallway, etc.)
- Became the subject of gossip
- Succumbed to pressure to shun a peer
- Supported someone who was bullying another person
- Ignored an opportunity to help a target of bullying
Review the following anti-bullying tactics with your students:
- Remain calm.
- Be assertive and ask the person who is bullying to stop.
- If the bullying does not stop, walk away and tell an adult in person or anonymously.
- If a person is being physically hurt, report it to an adult as quickly as possible.
More Anti-Bullying Activities and Ideas
If you’re looking for more ways to highlight the importance of creating a safe learning environment, be sure to stop by the Bullying Prevention & Intervention tag page. You’ll find lesson plans and tips for encouraging positive social interactions with students of all grade levels.
Read More: Bullying Prevention & Intervention
Stopbullying.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services– An overview of bullying, including definition, prevention strategies, and information on anti-bullying laws and policies in your state.