School bullying is a significant health concern for youth worldwide. The struggle to combat bullying in schools is an ongoing issue. There is no universally accepted definition for bullying, though there is widespread agreement. The voice and understanding of those that experience bullying the most has not been considered in defining and describing bullying in the literature. This phenomenological study aimed to understand the lived experience of rural middle school students who had been bullied. Participants were rural middle school students, in grades 6-8, who had filed a bullying report in the past two years. Findings suggested four main themes with one subtheme that indicated rural middle school students had a deeper description of bullying than the accepted definition in the literature. Their descriptions were thick with feelings and emotions demonstrating that bullying is a very personal experience, deep seeded in challenging emotions. Themes also indicated that students had a resilient spirit that gave them great strength to cope. With the voice of students being heard, the experience of bullying for rural middle school students today can be better understood and the work done to prevent harmful long-term consequences can be more effective. Specific areas of future research and suggestions for future interventions are identified.


Helena Stevens

Committee Member

Rick Auger

Committee Member

Diane Coursol

Committee Member

Ann Miller

Date of Degree




Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)

Program of Study

Counselor Education and Supervision


Counseling and Student Personnel





Rights Statement

In Copyright