Study Links Bullying to Poor Student Academic Performance

Severe bully victimization was linked to worse academic performance and decreased school engagement.

A new study shows that students who reported being bullied throughout their time in school were less likely to do well academically.

The study’s authors concluded that the more often a student is victimized from bullying the greater the odds of low academic achievement, reports the Grand Forks Herald.

Students who were bullied only in earlier school years were able to improve their academic performance and their attitudes toward school after the bullying ended.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, shows several trends in bully victimization and student performance.

Researchers conducted the study by regularly surveying a group of 383 children as they moved from kindergarten through 12th grade. The researchers broke down students’ bullying experiences into five categories ranging from rarely bullied to high-chronically bullied.

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Bullying exposure peaked in kindergarten, with 21 percent of children reporting severe victimization and 38 percent reporting moderate victimization. By 12th grade, less than one percent of students reported severe victimization and less than 11 percent reported moderate bullying.

The students who were victims of high-chronic bullying were the most likely to have low school engagement, academic self-perception and academic achievement.

The students who experienced more bullying later in their academic careers also had adverse academic effects comparable to the chronically bullied group.

“Bullying and peer victimization in school-age children has become more important in recent years because we recognize the damage it can do,” lead author Gary Ladd of Arizona State University says.

The researchers pointed to the student’s academic improvements after bullying as reason to encourage anti-bullying efforts in school.

Education researcher Jonathan Nakamoto, who was not involved in the study, cited the importance of following the guidance of the California Department of Education’s Safe and Supportive Schools program. The program asks parents and teachers to educate themselves about different kinds of bullying, create “safe spaces” to talk to students and to take action when students seem isolated.

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