A study of student and administrator perceptions regarding the existence of student -to -student cruelty in the independent middle school population

Lester Frederick Frawley, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study was (a) to investigate the extent of student-to-student cruelty as perceived by independent middle school students and administrators, (b) to analyze cruelty, and (c) to compare student and administrator perceptions. Most available research on student-to-student cruelty was conducted in public schools while limited data existed for independent schools. One thousand, two hundred eleven (1,211) students and five administrators provided data via questionnaires. Data were analyzed by descriptive and inferential statistical methods: frequency distribution, cross tabulation contingency tables, t-tests, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and Fisher's PLSD. Student-to-student cruelty in independent middle schools was found to be extensive using the indicators of bullying, theft, and vandalism. About two in five students reported being victims of bullying, one in three were victims of theft, and about one in four reported property vandalized. Male and female students were equally impacted by bullying. However, a higher percentage of males reported being victims of theft and vandalism. Student and administrator perceptions concerning student-to-student cruelty differed. Students reported a greater problem in all three areas. The majority of students did not believe bullies got caught nor were the majority aware of programs in their schools that addressed student-to-student cruelty. Demographics influencing findings were grade level, gender, and new versus returning student status. Seventh grade students reported more bullying behavior, followed by sixth and eighth grade students respectively. Most of the statistically significant differences at the .05 level were between eighth grade respondents compared to sixth or seventh grade respondents. Male victims reported receiving more physical bullying, while female victims experienced more verbal forms. New students reported being victims of bullying more frequently, while returning students reported more theft and vandalism. It was recommended that middle school administrators should (a) acknowledge student-to-student cruelty in their schools; (b) develop highly visible intervention and prevention programs; (c) address verbal and physical bullying in the male and female populations; (d) address new students' vulnerability to bullying; (e) intensify prevention and intervention initiatives during early middle school grades; and (f) develop student services which identify and deal with perpetrators and support victims and bystanders.

Subject Area

School administration|Behaviorial sciences|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Lester Frederick Frawley, "A study of student and administrator perceptions regarding the existence of student -to -student cruelty in the independent middle school population" (2000). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3007583.