"I think a lot of that has to do with talking about it, getting information out, and letting kids know that's something were not going to allow here," she said.
The school staff has developed new procedures for reporting incidents, and created a brochure for parents with tips on how to support their children. Givens said the school is also working to dispel myths about what bullying really is, and what it is not.
Bullying isn't just physical force. It often involves name calling, spreading rumors, threats or intimidation, and property damage.
"Most of the research that we've seen shows it's a major issue in middle schools," she said, adding that East Middle's numbers are in line with national trends. "To see a decrease I'm really pleased."
West Jessamine Middle School hopes to have similar luck next year when they start the same anti-bullying instruction, said guidance counselor Jed Keys.
Keys said West Middle is in the preliminary phase of the program this year, and has started with stricter enforcement in common areas, such as hallways, bathrooms and the cafeteria.
"To do that and to do that well can take some time, so that is what we have focused on this year," he said.
West Middle has seen a drop in bullying-related referrals too. Keys said most of the incidents went on in the hallways between classes, and teachers now stand outside their rooms during that time.
West Middle has very few physical fights, Keys said.
"The things that we see are really worse in a lot of ways, because it's harder to catch and it's harder to prove," he said.
Girls typically bully by excluding others from groups or activities, or spreading rumors; boys often threaten use of physical force, he said. To counter the more elusive forms of bullying, West Middle is focusing on changing attitudes.
"We have to teach them what we want, how to do that, and what it looks like," Keys said. "The harder thing, but the better thing, is to teach people how we can prevent this or minimize this, and make this a culture in the school."
According to the National Association of School Psychologists:
Between 15 and 30 percent of students are bullies or victims
An estimated 3.7 million youths engage in bullying each year
More than 3.2 million youths are victims of moderate or serious bullying each year
Physical bullying peaks in middle school
Bullies and victims are associated with school drop out, poor psychological adjustment, criminal activity and other negative consequences
More than two-thirds of students believe schools respond poorly to bullying