The Impact of Bullying

For Middle Childhood

What is Bullying?

  • Bullying happens when a child is repeatedly exposed to purposeful negative actions by one or more other students over time (Fekkes, Pijpers, Verloove-Vanhorick 2005). There are typically 2 types of bullying committed, which are: direct and indirect, or physical/verbal.
  • Direct/physical is typically seen in young boys and includes a wide variety of actions including: spitting, kicking, hitting, punching, pushing, and anything else meant to cause deliberate physical damage to another child.
  • Indirect/verbal bullying is seen more in females and includes actions like name calling, making threats, spreading rumors, and exclusion from a social group.

New Age

Cyber Bullying is brand new compared to other types of bullying that are seen. With the rapid expansion of technology and the availability of technology like social media for children, the risk of bullying is at an all time high. Bullies may now take their efforts away from school to continue torment on their victims. Cyber bullying consists of text messaging, phone calls, emailing, contact through Facebook and other social media. Cyber bullying can cause just as many, if not more, adverse effects on a child as bullying in person.

Prevalence of Bullying

  • Studies from around several different countries indicate that the prevalence of bullying is between 08-46% for regularly bullied children, and 5-30% for active bullies.
  • In a study by Fekkes in 2005 children reported that in the past 4 weeks 31% had received name-calling, 25% for spreading rumors, 17% for being ignored or excluded from activities, and 14.5% were kicked, pushed or hit in some way.
  • Children who had indicated that bullying was an everyday problem for them reported percentages more than twice the amount of others.

Why Should Parents Care?


  • During middle childhood the self-esteem of a person starts to develop into 4 main categories: academic, social, and physical/athletic competence, and physical appearance (Berk, 2010).
  • Bullying can consequently have a direct negative impact on all four of these categories, depending on the type of bullying exhibited.
  • Children make many social comparisons at this stage of life and if a child is bullied frequently they may suffer from learned helplessness, which is concluding that any success experienced must be for another reason besides themselves.

Physical/Mental Health

  • Many studies on bullying have concluded that victims of such a crime are much more likely to suffer from health problems, namely mental health problems.
  • Bed-wetting, stomach aches, headaches, sleeping problems and obvious physical injuries such as bruises or broken bones are just a few physical problems associated.
  • Mental problems include stress, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and even suicidal thoughts.
  • "Because bullying has a negative influence on children's mental and physical health, it is important that health care workers and teachers have a good understanding of bullying behavior and take measures to prevent or top such behavior (Fekkes).

Intervention Works

  • In Fekkes study of bullying, when attempts were made to intervene and stop the actions teachers were successful 49% of the time, parents were successful 46% of the time, and brave classmates that stepped in to help were successful 41% of the time.
  • Victims of the bullying only reported it to the teacher in about half of the cases, with the 49% success rate of teachers stopping the bullies, children need to feel more comfortable in reporting the abuse they are receiving.

Types of Intervention

  • Most cases of bullying take place in the classroom and on the playground. The classroom is where the majority of time is spent so this is natural to see. The amount of bullying on the playground suggests that more/closer supervision may be required to intervene.
  • Schools that have a higher density of teachers to students ratio report less instances of bullying, the more teachers the less of a problem.
  • Openly discussing bullying in the classroom and then laying down a strict set of rules pertaining to bullying at the of the start of classes will help reduce the actions.
  • Along with classroom rules each school should have a strict school-wide policy that is often talked about and enforced to stop bullying.
  • Parents should encourage their children to speak up when they are bullied, half of the victims never tell a teacher so the problem cannot be dealt with in the school environment.
  • Open communication between parents and teachers is also strongly needed so that all parties of the problem are aware and working together for a solution.
  • Parents should also talk with their children about the problems bullying causes and let their child know that they too can help others when they see a friend or peer being victimized. Intervention by peers is almost as effective as intervention by parents alone.
  • Bullies themselves report not being spoken to by either parent (67%) or teacher (43% about their bullying behavior (Fekkes). Confronting the actually bully may be the most important strategy in reducing the behavior they are exhibiting.
  • With a school policy, classroom policy, and plenty of open discussion between parents, teachers, victims, and bullies the prevalence of bullying will drop drastically.


Bullying is a problem among children in middle childhood, and being a time when self-esteem and peer acceptance are crucial to social interactions, bullying can cause some major drawbacks to mental and physical development. Parents must realize the severity of the bullying problem and begin to have open discussions with their children about bullying and how negative it can be. Open, full-circle, communication from students to teachers and teachers to parents, is the easiest way to shed light on the problem if one exists and once the problem is known it can be dissolved by a number of strategies.

Cody White

Crothers, Laura. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities And Social

Sciences Volume: 62 Issue: 1-A (2001-07-01) ISSN: 0419-4209

Berk, Laura. E. (2009) Development Through the Lifespan, 5th Edition. Old Tappan, New

Jersey: Allyn & Bacon