Study Reveals Academic Effects of Bullying

CNN reports on a study published January 30th in the Journal of Educational Psychology that examined the toll that bullying takes on academic performance in bullied students.

About the Longitudinal Study on the Academic Effects of Bullying

The study was led by Gary Ladd, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University and aimed to collect data on the then-mostly-unexplored topic of bullying’s effect on academic achievement. Ladd notes that he was interested in studying the issue because most existing research only focused on psychological and health adjustment of victims.

Researchers enrolled 383 kindergarteners into their study and frequently assessed each child’s feelings of victimization, enthusiasm for school, academic esteem and performance through teacher evaluations and standardized test scores.

Children were asked about how frequently they were bullied, with answer choices ranging from “almost never” to “almost always.” The children were studied through the 12th grade.

Nearly a third of the kids experienced little or no bullying, 18% experienced mild bullying, and 24% experienced chronic levels of bullying.

Victims of chronic bullying were more likely to be boys. Chronic bullying victims had lower academic achievement, a greater dislike of school, and less confidence in their academic abilities.

The study found that both the prevalence and frequency of victimization declined through each successive grade level.

Topics for Future Research on Bullying in Schools

  • Cyber-bullying: The study wasn’t able to look into the effects of cyber-bullying, but this is an increasingly relevant topic as use of social media continues to increase.
  • Prevention: Identify what risk factors lead to a child becoming a bully and what interventions can be deployed to lower rates of bullying.
  • School policies: Research needs to examine what polices and procedures are most effective at addressing bullying in schools and communities.
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