As students age the amount of verbal and physical bullying that they receive declines, but their exposure to cyberbullying increases. This finding is contained in a recent paper, “Examination of the Change in Latent Statuses in Bullying Behaviors Across Time,” recently published in School Psychology Quarterly. This paper is based on data about bullying obtained from 1,180 fifth-grade through eighth-grade students over three semesters at schools in a mid-western U.S. city.

The study created bully and victim subgroups, labeling how frequently student either participated in bullying or were targeted by bullies. The study found that there was variability in who and how many students perpetrated or were victims of bullying. Additionally, the study found that bullying increased considerably between fifth and sixth grade. And girls were more likely to experience verbal/relational and cyber victimization as opposed to boys, while boys were more likely to be physically victimized.

The studies authors recommend that school officials focus their interventions on students in sixth and eighth grades, and that these interventions should be differentiated between boys and girls. According to the study’s author, Cinix Wang, an assistant professor at the University of Virgina, “school-based interventions need to address the differences in perpetrator and victim experiences. The key is to use individualized specific interventions for bullying, not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

As more and more studies about the causes and effects of school bullying are made available, schools will be better able to tailor their responses and interventions to the specific needs of students.