For students, bullying behaviors change and progress as they make the transition from elementary school to middle school. Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, studied the bullying behavior of students, whether it was verbal, physical, cyber, and compared them between English and non-English speakers. They published their findings in the journal School Psychology Quarterly.

"School-based interventions need to address the differences in perpetrator and victim experiences," said the study’s coauthor Cixin Wang, an assistant professor at the university's Graduate School of Education, in a press release. "The key is to use individualized specific interventions for bullying, not a one-size-fits-all approach."

Researchers analyzed the victim and bullying behavior of 1,180 students in fifth to eighth grade over the course of three semesters in Midwestern schools in the United States. They wanted to see what types of students were being bullied and who was doing the bullying as the students aged. While previous studies had looked at a single age group over a period of time, Wang and her team decided to watch a group of students as they aged.

Cyber bullying increases as students age, particularly in girls. To no surprise, they found that overall, regardless of the age group, girls were more likely to experience verbal and cyber bullying than boys, while boys were more likely to be physically bullied. The researchers also found there was no difference between a student’s main language and how often they were bullied.

Older students were more likely to engage in bullying, which is why in-school and parental intervention between these ages, before they transition into middle school, should be the focus. Adults should be taught social-emotional learning skills to approach students in a healthy and effective way. Girls need to be the focus when it comes to a verbal lashing, whether in-person or online, while the focus on boys needs to be in a physical manner before they age into a vicious cycle.

Researchers suggest parents need to intervene, and monitor a child’s online presence to make sure they aren’t engaging in any type of bullying, as well as to make sure they aren't the victims of bullying. Youth violence is believed to result in physical, emotional, social, and economic effects that tend to be harmful to the victim and bully alike. More than 700,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 sustain assaults from peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Source: Wang C, Swearer SM, and Hoon JR. Examination of the Change in Latent Statuses in Bullying Behaviors Across Time. School Psychology Quarterly. 2014.