Adult perceptions of bullying by boys and girls in middle school

JoAnne Dornfeld-Januzzi, Fordham University


Anyone who works in a school setting should be concerned about the issue of bullying that exists in our nation's schools, particularly the more covert forms that occur between girls. This study looked at 4 groups in the school setting, administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, and paraprofessional and their perceptions of bullying by both boys and girls at the middle school level. The study was designed to demonstrate the differences that exist between boys and girls and the gender typical and atypical forms of aggression they exact upon same sex peers. Data for the study were collected through a researcher designed instrument, the School Personnel's Perceptions of Bullying Survey (SPPBS). A total of 127 individuals participated in the study by completing the survey questions presented. The sample consisted of 5 administrators, 97 teachers, 6 guidance counselors, and 19 paraprofessionals at 2 suburban middle schools. Specifically, this study explored the differences in perceptions by administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, and paraprofessionals for both direct and indirect forms of aggression perpetrated by both boys and girls of middle school age. Statistical analysis included both descriptive and inferential statistics to report the results of the study. Administrators as a group believed that bullying by both boys and girls is less problematic in their schools than the other 3 groups. They had the highest rating for their belief that their schools are safe places for children. Teachers had high ratings for most items with their highest rating on their belief that boys also engage in indirect forms of aggression and that more referrals are written for boys than girls. Guidance counselors rated both boys and girls highest on the extent to which they believe both genders engage in bullying behavior. Paraprofessionals had the highest ratings for their belief that adults intervene when they observe students being bullied and the ability of adults to identify bullying behaviors among girls, compared to teachers who had the lowest ratings on these behaviors. The critical question that this research sought to examine was how schools recognize the problem of bullying, particularly among girls, and the level of intervention that is implemented to address it. Unless adults who work in the school environment do recognize and react with immediacy to bullying behavior by both boys and girls, bullies will continue to be empowered and victims left to suffer irreparable damage not only emotionally, but also physically and intellectually.

Subject Area

School administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Dornfeld-Januzzi, JoAnne, "Adult perceptions of bullying by boys and girls in middle school" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3210264.