Monday, January 29th, 2018

When Students are Bullied, Achievement Suffers

Posted by Rachael Ballard Filed under: *Hot Topics*, Bullying, Courses, Student Well-Being

It is well known bullying can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, changes to sleep and eating patterns, alcohol and drug abuse, and deviant behavior – and these issues may persist into adulthood. However, much of the bullying research available today is conducted over short periods of time, and there isn’t much research on the effect bullying can have on a student’s academic achievement.

In early 2017, the Journal of Education Psychology published “Peer Victimization Trajectories From Kindergarten Through High School: Differential Pathways for Children’s School Engagement and Achievement?” by the University of Arizona. In a press release about the study from the American Psychological Association, lead researcher Gary Ladd, PhD, a psychology professor at Arizona State University, said it is the first long-term study to track students for more than a decade and analyze connections between bullying and academic achievement.

The study followed 383 kindergarteners – 190 boys and 193 girls – in Illinois public schools from kindergarten to high school. Researchers administered annual surveys to students asking them to describe their experiences with bullying. They also used teacher evaluations and standardized reading and math test scores to measure student achievement. Key findings from the study include:

  • Although boys on average appeared to experience somewhat higher levels of victimization than girls, the normative trends for both genders were nearly identical.
  • 24% of the sample experienced chronic levels of bullying during their school years. These students had lower academic achievement, a greater dislike of school and less confidence in their academic abilities.
  • 18% of students experienced moderate bullying that increased later in their school years. This group of students’ academic achievement was similar to those who were chronically bullied.
  • Students who experienced decreasing bullying through their school years (26%) had similar academic achievement to those students who experienced little or no bullying (32%). This revealed that some students could recover from bullying if it decreased.

“Some kids are able to escape victimization, and it looks like their school engagement and achievement does tend to recover,” Ladd said. “That’s a very hopeful message.

So how can you help students escape victimization?

By implementing bullying prevention programs. The PublicSchoolWORKS Student Bullying Program facilitates the implementation of the district’s bullying prevention policy to help administrators manage the reporting, investigation, and resolution of bullying. It includes:

  • Online and telephone reporting systems for student, parents, and educators, with the option to report anonymously
  • Automatic notification of new bullying reports to key administrators so they can begin investigations immediately
  • Online storage of all reports and documentation of all actions taken place during investigation and resolution – even consequences assigned to the bully – for easy future reference, if necessary
  • Resources including training courses for staff and students plus anti-bullying posters and stickers for distribution to promote awareness with staff, students, and families
  • Automated recurring reminders for principals to promote the bullying reporting systems so staff, students, and families are aware of available resources
  • 24/7 report monitoring
  • Access to national crisis hotlines

All of these pieces work together to give districts a comprehensive bullying program. In addition to ensuring bullying is investigated and resolved consistently, it creates a district culture emphasizing that bullying is not tolerated and perpetrators will be reported and face the consequences. To learn how your district can implement our Student Bullying Program, contact us today.

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