Bullying in the Music Classroom: What Music Teacher Educators Need to Know


Jared R. Rawlings, Stetson University



Bullying behavior is a public health problem that occurs at relatively high frequencies among adolescents with significant short-term and long-term consequences (Espelage, Holt, & Poteat, 2010). Consequently, bullying interferes with the primary academic mission of schools. Researchers investigating issues of bullying in schools work to prevent these antisocial-aggressive behaviors by promoting a positive developmental and learning environment for youth (Catalano, et al., 2003). Despite the wealth of knowledge available about bullying behaviors, little information is known about fine arts student populations (Elpus & Carter, 2013) and only two studies have investigated bullying with music populations, specifically band (Rawlings, 2014, 2015). Therefore, the purpose of this interactive session for the 2015 SMTE Symposium is to present current research about bullying behaviors, explain documented cases of and spaces for aggression in music classrooms, and model practices for implementation throughout preservice music teacher coursework. The proposed format includes presentation of the extant research related to music teacher education, demonstration of preservice teacher activities, and discussion groups.


The first part of this session defines bullying behavior as a sub-category of antisocial-aggression, presents information about the prevalence of bullying, and identifies specific behaviors documented from research in American public schools. The second part of this session explains the individual and school-level correlates associated with aggression in music classrooms. Specifically, documented cases of and spaces for aggression are selected for presentation as representative of the extant research in music education. The concluding segment of this session models preservice teacher practices including guided observation protocols for viewing video excerpts, stimulated recall exercises, school climate assessments, and identifies resources for further information regarding the behavioral intervention strategies.


The aim of this session contributes to the theme of the 2015 symposium by highlighting a voice rarely included at music education conferences. Participation in music classes during adolescence may be a risk factor to positive development and music teacher educators should be aware of the tensions that potentially exist with American public schools. Broadly conceived, this session would contribute to two ASPAs, Cultural Diversity and Social Justice and ostensibly School/University Partnerships; however, it may be plausible to also extend the purpose of this session to additional ASPAs.



Catalano, R. F. et al. (2003). Raising healthy children through enhancing social development in elementary school: Results after 1.5 years. Journal of School Psychology (41)1, 143-164.

Elpus, K., & Carter, B. A. (2013, April). Are arts students more likely to be bullied? The prevalence of bullying among arts participants. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco, CA.

Espelage, D. L., Holt, M. K., & Poteat, V. P. (2010). Individual and contextual influences on bullying. In J. L. Meece & J. S. Eccles (Eds.), Handbook of research on schools, schooling, and human development (pp. 146-159). New York: Routledge.

Rawlings, J. R. (2014). Understanding bullying from inside the band classroom. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Rawlings, J. R. (2015). The effects of middle school band participation on the relationship between perceived connectedness, self-reported bullying behaviors, and peer victimization (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.