Sixth-grade physical education: An acculturation of bullying and fear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Although bullying is recognized as a serious problem among adolescents, more information is needed regarding bullying within the context of physical education. Grounded in a social-ecological framework, the purpose of this investigation was to discover the perceptions students and teachers have about bullying in physical education and about peer and adult support. Method: Data collection included formal and informal interviews with 24 students and 4 teachers and 20 observations of 6th-grade physical education classes in 1 Midwestern school. Data were analyzed using a constant-comparative process. Results: The results indicate that adults acculturate students to support a bullying climate by providing mixed information regarding social interactions, ignoring nonphysical instances of bullying, and promoting inappropriate curricular selections. Participants also report that perceived differences such as appearance, body size, physical ability, and personal attire ignite most episodes of harassment in physical education. Further, students perceive that fear prevents many from (a) reporting instances of bullying to those in authority, (b) assisting bullied friends, and (c) feeling safe in certain physical education locations. Finally, students and teachers report that bullying impacts students' desire to participate in physical education. Conclusions: Overall, evidence from this investigation suggests that an efficacious support system does not exist for addressing the magnitude of the bullying problem. Although this study provided an initial step toward understanding the social-ecological factors affecting peer harassment in physical education, additional research is warranted. © 2014

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-408
Number of pages11
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • middle school
  • peer harassment
  • physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nephrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sixth-grade physical education: An acculturation of bullying and fear'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this